How to Avoid Telling an Employer in an Interview You Were Terminated at Your Last Job

Always remain positive, even when you're dealing with tricky questions.

Always remain positive, even when you're dealing with tricky questions.

Getting fired can be a traumatic experience. And not least among your worries may be how your termination will affect your job search. But rest assured -- lots of people get rehired after a firing, and so will you if you handle it correctly. Think ahead about how you're going to discuss this at an interview.

Previous Company

Before you begin applying for new jobs, remember that any prospective new employer is going to be contacting your old company for a reference. What they say needs to agree with how you're going to describe your situation. Contact the human resources manager at the company you were fired from and ask about his policy on references. It's possible to get him to agree merely to confirm the dates you worked at the company and leave it at that -- without referencing your termination.

Don't Bring it Up

You want to be ready for the "why did you leave your last job" question, but don't bring it up yourself; after all, it's just possible that it won't be asked. So don't willingly raise the subject yourself. Above all, don't speak bitterly about your former employer or place blame on anyone else for your situation -- that will raise red flags for the interviewer.

Don't Lie

It's not a good idea to be too direct about being fired, but it's equally unwise to flat-out lie. This is a situation where it's all in the presentation. Don't deny you were terminated; instead, talk about how your previous company was not a good match for your skill set, or that you and your previous boss mutually agreed you would be more productive in a different setting. If it's applicable, you can also talk about how a new boss wanted to bring in his own team. Think of a creative yet truthful way to couch your particular situation, while avoiding speaking ill of anyone at your previous company.

Turn the Subject

Use your answer as a pivot to a more forward-looking topic. You can talk about how you believe your skills are a much better fit for this company, or how you are eager to apply the hard lessons of your last position, after mature reflection on what you learned. Say you're excited to tackle new challenges, and bring the benefits of your professional growth to this new situation.

 

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