How to Respond To the Question "Have You Ever Been Fired?"

Find postive aspects in your past job to mention during the interview.

Find postive aspects in your past job to mention during the interview.

Getting fired is usually a stressful and painful experience that doesn't just end with you out of a job. When you're trying to find a new job, questions about why you left your old job may rear their ugly heads in an interview with a possible new employer. Prepare yourself to answer questions about your termination in an interview beforehand so you don't talk yourself out of a new job.

Stay Cool

Being asked point-blank about losing your job is bound to throw you for a loop. You may feel nervous about answering and even feel some of the lingering negative emotions you have over been fired. Take a deep breath before you answer to get your emotions under control. You don't want to come across as angry or still emotional about the firing. If you do, you'll likely put the interviewer off and take the focus away from your accomplishments, skills and other positive aspects.

Tell The Abbreviated Truth

Don't lie about being fired. There's always a chance the prospective employer will find out you were fired later. You've probably blown your chances if the truth comes out before you land the new job, and your professional reputation will take a hit if pops up after you're hired. You don't have to go into detail or try to defend your termination, however. Briefly state the reason, such as "I wasn't meeting the employer's expectations," and take responsibility for it. Shifting blame to other people sends the wrong signals. Blaming your job loss on vindictive co-workers, however true it may be, won't score you any points in an interview.

Focus on the Positive

Once you've given the interviewer your simple answer, follow it up with what you've learned from the experience. For example, tell the interviewer about how you took classes to correct a skill deficit if you were fired because you didn't have the right skill set. By highlighting what you've done to improve yourself after being fired, you're showing the interviewer you're a serious worker who can acknowledge past mistakes, learn from them and grow professionally as a result.

Sticky Scenarios

If you've been a victim of an illegal or unfair employment decision regarding your firing, such as being fired because of your gender, an interview is not the right place to mention it. While you may feel the need to point out that your termination was not just, your information may make the prospective employer nervous about hiring you. If you were fired for doing something illegal, such as taking drugs, you may have to disclose this to a prospective employer, especially if you have a criminal record.

 

About the Author

Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.

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