Handling being fired

Published: 05th January 2009
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Getting fired can happen to the best of us. And it can happen even when it's not your fault. If you've ever been fired, this question is probably the one interview question you dread the most. There's no good way to sugarcoat being fired, so the best course of action for you is to honestly tell the interviewer, as objectively and candidly as possible, your view of what happened. You cannot display any anger or bitterness. Feeling bitter or angry after being fired is pretty normal, and you may be a little extra sensitive because of being fired. However, if you want to be successful, you need to leave that anger at home and not bring it to the interview with you.
There is no point in trying to cover up being fired, because your future employer will check out references and probably find out and you may end up being fired again! So, you need to be able to convince the interviewer that, regardless of what happened in the past; you are a strong candidate for the position and can do the job. Staying positive and focusing primarily on your skills and experience will help sell you to the employer and will help you get the job. In addition, honesty and humility are perhaps the greatest qualities that can help you navigate through this very difficult question in the interview.

First of all, acknowledge the problem in terms that put you in as positive a light as possible. Be careful not to criticize your former employer, make excuses or sound whiney. Your answer should demonstrate strength and self-confidence, so do don't hesitate or over explain. Finally, take responsibility for the way things turned out: "I was fired after a major reorganization. The merging of different cultures had a profound effect on the way things were done at the office. The new boss had his own philosophies on how certain responsibilities should be carried out which I disagreed with, and eventually, I was asked to resign (fired). I take full responsibility for my part in the way things turned out."

End by stating one or two important things you learned from the experience, and emphasize that the past is behind you: "I have learned to be more adaptable and flexible, and in retrospect I would have handled it differently. But, that is behind me now, and I am ready to move on with a new perspective." Whatever you do, be sure to emphasize that you are ready for a new challenge and to be a team player. You could even go further by highlighting why you think the experience would be a good fit in the new position. The key here is to assure the interviewers that you are going to be an asset, not a problem despite the fact that you may have been fired from a previous position.

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