Getting fired is awful, but once you have a plan in place, things start looking up again. Then you’re hit with a realization: you’re going to have to talk about it with prospective employers.
Yes, this is awkward. But it’s a common issue that comes up for many people at least once in their lifetime. You don’t have to be nervous about being asked, “Why did you leave your last job?” Here are 7 tips to help you get through it.
1. Know the Policy
Before you begin interviewing, you need to know what you can and can’t say. Check with your former employer (the HR department) to see how they will categorize your leaving. Whatever you say has to match what they say. They might not have any restrictions you must follow, but it’s good to be prepared.
2. Prepare Your Answers in Advance
The more prepared you are, the better the impression on the interviewer. They are not only looking to learn about why you left your previous employer. They’re also looking for an example of how you handle adverse conditions and whether you take responsibility for your actions.
3. Honesty Is the Best Policy
It cannot be stressed enough: Be. Honest. The interviewer will undoubtedly follow up with your previous employer on the circumstances of your departure. If you’re caught in a lie, you’re automatically ineligible for the position.
That said, you can choose to be tactful with how you present the truth. Instead of using the term “fired”—which is rather harsh and has an even worse connotation—you can use a phrase like “let go.”
4. Keep It Simple—and Brief
There’s no need to get into all the gritty details about what happened. Acknowledge the situation, provide some unbiased context, and move on.
5. Don’t Point Fingers
You want to paint yourself in the best light, right? Remaining professional when discussing your former employer will definitely make you look better. Don’t badmouth them! Take responsibility for your part of the circumstances and discuss the things you would do differently in the future.
6. Emphasize Why You’re a Good Fit For the Position
After your brief explanation, pivot to your skills and abilities and why you’re the best fit for the job. Like any interview, make sure to tie your skills to the qualifications in the job description.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
To help prepare, write out your answers and practice in front of a mirror. Then practice with a friend or family member conducting a mock interview. The more often you discuss the circumstances, the more you can reduce them to facts and avoid becoming emotional. Your comfort level with the discussion will mirror onto the interviewer.
Remember, people get fired all the time. Maybe even the person interviewing you was fired at some point! Unless you were fired for a serious breach of conduct, prospective employers will understand that it happens. Follow these tips with confidence!