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Fired From Your Last Job? How to Talk About It During an Interview

Hallie Crawford

Fired. That five-letter word raises a red flag for any hiring manager. They know that most organizations won't fire an employee without good reason. It can make a prospective employer question your loyalty, your work ethic, even your personality. Whether you like it or not, if you have been let go, this is an issue you will have to address and pass with flying colors to get to the next level in your job interview.

In this article, we will address some possible reasons for which you could have been fired and how to talk about them in an interview. First, there are a few things you will want to avoid.

-- Don't play the victim card when you talk about being fired.

-- Don't speak bitterly about the organization you previously worked for.

-- Don't lie. It is important to be honest. It will be worse for you if the hiring manager finds out that you lied to them.

[See: 25 Best Business Jobs for 2017.]

Your previous department was liquidated. This is easy to address because it most likely didn't have to do with you on a personal level but on a department level. You can take the initiative and bring this up yourself instead of waiting for the hiring manager to ask about being fired. Try something like:

"I worked for my previous employer for X years. Unfortunately, my department and I were let go due to a liquidation. I will always be grateful to (employer name) for helping me grow (mention two areas), but I am excited for new opportunities."

This type of answer is brief and to the point. By including words like your whole department and liquidation it is made clear you weren't fired for a personal issue. By mentioning how your previous employer helped you, you show gratitude and loyalty. And by mentioning you are excited for new opportunities shows that you aren't bitter, but moving forward.

You were fired for habitual tardiness. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 41 percent of employers have fired someone for being late to work. Whether you agree with the reason you were fired or not, you want to avoid becoming defensive or bashing your former manager in your job interview.

Instead, take responsibility for your actions and be objective. Make sure to explain what you have learned from your experience. Try something like:

"I am sorry to say that I got too comfortable in my previous position and I failed to see how being late to work was affecting others. I have a renewed appreciation for the meaning of teamwork and I am determined to fulfill my next employer's expectations."

This kind of answer shows that you have recognized you were part of the problem and how the experience will help you in the future.

[See: 10 Reasons to Quit Your Job Already.]

You violated company policy. This could be a range of issues from a social media policy to a code of conduct. However, if you were fired, the hiring manager will assume it was not just a small offense.

To prepare yourself, contact your former employer and find out how much of what happened will be disclosed. Again, you won't want to lie or spin the story to tell the hiring manager, but knowing what the hiring manager knows about your situation will help you know what to say.

You will also want to make sure that you have solid references at your previous place of employment who will speak to your character.

Try saying something like:

"I made a mistake at my previous place of employment and I have taken responsibility for that. However, I am determined to prove what my references will tell you about me (mention two qualities you have that speak to the position you want)."

The hiring manager will most likely have follow-up questions for you. Be straightforward when answering, but don't feel the need to rehash the story with all the gory details.

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You lied on your last job application. If this is why you were fired from your last position, then you understand the importance of being truthful moving forward. Make sure that you haven't put false information on your resume or padded any details that make it seem you have qualifications that you don't have.

Then, in your interview try something like:

"When I applied for my previous position, I was inexperienced and didn't appreciate that padding my resume is a serious offense. I have grown as a professional and I believe that it is important to be honest in all professional relationships. You have my word that everything on this resume that I have given you is true and can be backed up by my references."

Whether or not you advance in the hiring process will be up to the hiring manager. But if you lay all your cards out on the table during your interview and can show that you are honest and trustworthy, you have a better chance of getting hired.



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