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How to Explain Being Fired to Your Interviewer
Monday, January 28, 2013

Losing a job is tough. Getting fired from one, though, can feel like a death sentence. This is just one of those things in life that are hard to control. That doesn't mean it's impossible to recover from, however. One of the biggest obstacles of overcoming this career mishap is when you have to explain the your termination to a potential employer.

Interviewers will inevitably ask for details which makes it all the more important to have a well-scripted answer. With strategic wording, you can minimize the damage and give yourself a fighting chance. The following tips will help you handle the situation and talk yourself out of an unfavorable circumstance:

Plan and prepare.
Getting yourself ready for, not only this interview, but this particular question is the key to successfully pulling off a good interview. You shouldn't wait for the interviewer to ask you the question hoping that they might forget to ask and then think about your answer in that case. Think the incident through and verbally practice your explanation. Listening to your answer repeatedly beforehand gives you time to modify it until perfect.

Be on the same page as your references.
Finding references can be especially difficult after being fired. Reach out to those you know will positively vouch for you and get an idea for what they plan on saying about you. Ask them what they have in mind when the interviewer contacts them and be sure to have them focus on your qualifications, performance, and overall character. If you can muster up the will to do so, reach out to your previous manager and try to come to copacetic terms with them. As difficult as it may be, it can help prevent past employers from costing you future jobs.

Be straight-forward and transparent.
Lying about or attempting to cover up areas of the truth will only backfire. If possible, steer clear of the incident itself and instead direct the attention to where you've gotten to since. Give them examples for what that experience taught you and how it helped you grow. You want to emphasize that you were able to turn a negative into a positive. The interviewer needs to see that you appreciate their willingness to hear your side of the story by maintaining your integrity. A little honestly will go a long way.

Write it down and memorize it.
As you put your answer together, continue going over it until it's time for the interview. Frequently editing it will let you catch things that you think could use improving. You want to prepare yourself enough so that by the time you walk in through the office doors, you'll have the confidence to manage this question without a hiccup. Be sure that nothing you say will reflect any bitterness, anger, or hard feelings. Showing the interviewer that you were able to pick yourself up from such a fall will let them see you as a resilient person and a strong team player.