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You’ve been fired: How to explain it in a job interview

You might think explaining why you were fired from your last job could mean you’ll never find work again, but it’s not so. Here’s how to handle this issue in job interviews.

Woman on a job interview

As if getting the pink slip isn’t tough enough, now you’re faced with how to explain in job interviews why you’re no longer at your former job. Don’t fret; people are let go and manage to find employment all the time. Here’s how to handle the question when you’re hunting for a job and meeting with interviewers.

Don’t lie about being fired

A potential employer can easily discover the truth, so it doesn’t help your case to lie about being let go. What you can do, though, is focus on what you did well in your last job. If it makes sense to, discuss briefly what went wrong but how you’ve learned and grown since it happened. Cover succinctly how this experience has taught you to handle the job task expertly and, if possible, relate it to how it adds to your qualifications of the job you’re interviewing for.

Rehearse your reply

If you’re nervous about the interviewer asking about your dismissal, practice your reply to this question. Enlist a friend to conduct mock interviews with you so you can answer the question with ease. You don’t want to tense up and appear uncomfortable. Your goal is to present a confident attitude. Make sure you don’t ramble on. Aim to be concise, and then naturally lead the conversation to the job you are interviewing for.

Don’t rant about your former employer

Even if you feel bitterness or anger toward your former employer, don’t let this show in your interview. Present a calm attitude that demonstrates you’ve accepted what happened and how you’ve learned from your mistake. You don’t have to pretend to be happy about being dismissed (that would appear insincere), but if you show a neutral, practical outlook, it will make you appear mature and competent.

Talk about your successes in other positions

Draw attention away from this one pink slip, and play up what you’ve acheived in other jobs and even the one you were fired from (assuming there were good aspects to your performance at your last job). Highlighting these points will play down this one bump in the road of your otherwise admirable career.

More on job interviews

Prep for those hard job interview questions
How to dress for a job interview
Smart questions to ask at a job interview

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