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What to say when you’ve been fired


Okay, so you were fired from your last job. That means it’s time to beat the pavement and find a new one. Surprisingly, you feel pretty comfortable, confident even, in answering all the questions the interviewers are asking-except those related to your last job.

The question is, what should you do when those questions come up? {{more}}

  • First and foremost, do not lie. This is not the time to make up a good-sounding reason as to why you are no longer with that employer. A lie will always catch up with you, no matter how creative you get about twisting the truth. Think about what you are going to say in advance, rehearse it, then simply let the interviewer know you were asked to leave the company or you were let go.
  • Skip the details. If the interviewer asks you why you were fired, you must give an answer; but again, be strategic in what you say and how you say it. You have no obligation or need to go into the sordid details of your firing. If you are launching a complaint against your former employer because you feel your termination was unjust, do not mention it in the interview-such an action will often be viewed as the act of a troublemaker.
  • Speak well of your former employer. This one may take some self control. Getting fired can be quite an emotional experience, even if better opportunities lay ahead, and the need to vent a little frustration and defend yourself can start out as part of a very simple, very innocent conversation. But, no matter what you do, never berate or speak negatively about your former company, boss, or workers. First, doing so is a reflection of your lack of maturity and professionalism. Second, since we live in a global economy, it is quite possible that a potential employer might have ties to someone at your old job or at least a “means” of getting inside information. So, if you can’t say anything nice or neutral, at least avoid going down the negative slippery slope.
  • Clean up the mess, and look to the future. Regardless of the reason you were fired, you need to build a case that you have learned from the experience and reveal that you are a stronger, more stable, more mature candidate now, one who is ready for new challenges in spite of the fact they were asked to leave a previous job.

Firings are not all bad, sometimes they are rooted in creative differences, sometimes people just outgrow positions, and sometimes it was simply the wrong job to begin with. Of course, there are cases when people make wrong decisions or violate company policy. Whatever the reason, do not belabor the point – examine what happened, have a strong response to the questions, and prepare to move on.

Karen Hinds President/CEO – Workplace Success Group
Toll Free: 1-877-902-2775;

Tel: 1-203-757-4103
[email protected]
Creator of The Workplace Success Program (TM)