July 17, 2019
Even though it feels awful to be fired, it’s actually more common than you may think. Most employees will be fired or laid off at least once during their careers. The key is to keep moving forward toward your future, despite the temporary setback.
How to handle this in an interview
You may be asked why you left a previous job—either on the application or in your interview. Don’t panic! It’s best to tackle this situation head-on, and you can do this with the following four tips:
Find out your former employer’s policy. You can contact the Human Resources department of your former place of employment to find out what you can and can’t disclose about why you were fired. Most potential employers will contact your previous ones, so it’s important to keep your story straight and know how a past employer might represent the situation if asked.
Be honest, but positive. The best way to handle this is to be up front about why you were let go, but then give it a positive spin to explain what you learned and how it made you ultimately stronger. Let’s say you were fired because of excessive tardiness. You could explain that because of that, you’ve taken steps to wake up and get ready earlier, plan your commute more carefully and improve your punctuality.
Never “mudsling.” Even if you left you previous job on bad terms, don’t ever get gossipy about the situation. Keep your explanation honest but simple, and never paint your previous employer in a bad light. It’s simply not professional.
Keep the focus on why you’re a great candidate! You’re qualified and have the skills that make you right for the job. After you’ve answered why you were let go from your previous job, you could add a statement similar to, “Even though it didn’t work out for me at my other job, I’m excited to be interviewing for this one because I feel [XYZ skills] make me a great fit!”
Another way to handle the situation is to be up front about it, even if you aren’t asked during your interview. When a potential employer checks your references, they may uncover this information and you don’t want them to think you’re hiding anything. Honesty is always the best policy, and highly admirable.