Fired From Your Job? How to Explain That in a Job Interview

John Krautzel
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You're sailing through the job interview, playing up your strengths, discussing your skills and touting your accomplishments. You're feeling confident, sitting up straight in your chair and maintaining eye contact with the hiring manager. Then, he asks why you left your previous position, and your positive attitude grounds to a halt. If you've been fired from your last job, don't panic. Consider these five tips.

1. Practice Before the Interview

Before attending a job interview, take the time to practice answers to possible interview questions about your previous position. Examine what went wrong and put a lot of thought into your response. Recite your response until you're comfortable and it sounds natural. Practice in front of a mirror to monitor your body language and facial expressions as you speak.

2. Be Honest About the Situation

Don't get caught in a web of lies, since hiring managers often call references and conduct research on highly qualified applicants. It's always best to be 100 percent honest during a job interview. If the topic of your firing comes up, tell the truth, and be prepared to explain exactly what happened. If you were at fault, take full responsibility and own your mistakes.

3. Maintain a Professional Attitude

When explaining why you're no longer employed, it's essential to keep your emotions in check. Don't cry as you're telling the story, and don't display any bitterness you may feel toward your past employer. Refrain from talking negatively about the company, your ex-boss or any former colleagues. Even if you're still angry about the firing, don't let it show during the job interview, as this is an instant red flag for the hiring manager.

4. Tell What You've Learned

Use the job interview as an opportunity to talk about the lessons you learned from the experience. Tell how you used the time since your firing to brush up on your skills and knowledge. Discuss how you plan to conduct yourself in your next position to keep from repeating the same mistakes.

5. Differentiate a Layoff

In many cases, being laid off is different than being fired. If you were let go from a previous employer because they were cutting costs and eliminating positions, make this known. Without bashing the organization, explain that management was under pressure to make personnel changes. If you received a severance package, make note of it. If you left on good terms, offer a few references to vouch for your work ethic.

Nobody likes to admit that they've been fired, but just remember that getting fired is common. When the question comes up during a job interview, follow these five tips to help you respond to the inquiry with confidence. Can you think of any other tips for handling this topic during an interview?

Photo courtesy of beatrizblogbelleza at


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