The interview is going great—you ace every question, have a great rapport with the interviewer, and are pretty much perfect for the job. But then, your prospective employer asks about your last position and why you weren’t there very long. Memories of a company shakeup and a newly minted (but hardly qualified) boss showing you the door flash through your mind. Yeah, you were fired. But does the interviewer really need to know that?
The answer is yes. If you lie, it’s going to come up eventually. They might ask for a reference. Or that lie could lead to six or seven more. And that’s not how you want to start a new job.
Now that you know you have to tell your interviewer you were fired, how do you go about doing that?
Accept That You Were Fired
You were fired. It happens. The first step of telling any future interviewer you were fired is accepting it yourself. Being able to view that event objectively, not subjectively. Realize that, in all likelihood, nobody was out to get you. Whether it was a mismatch of personalities that led to a less than stellar workplace environment or the simple fact that you didn’t yet have the skills for the job.
Regardless of reason, the important thing is that you’re okay with it. You don’t want to go into interviews complaining about how terrible your boss was or how nobody liked you. That makes you look like a drama-prone employee. Plus, if you complain about your last boss, how does your interviewer know you won’t end up whining about them in the future? Settle your emotions so that you can talk calmly about your firing without all of that emotional baggage.
Focus on What You Learned
Most interviewers don’t want to hear complaints about your previous boss. They want to hear about how the firing affected you as an employee. Which means you should focus on what you learned from the event. Make sure to portray yourself in a positive light. If you were fired for your workplace behavior, you should have made changes. Maybe you learned that the company culture wasn’t for you, or you weren’t right for the night shift. Just make sure that you learned something, and that you’re a stronger job candidate because of it. Turn your firing into a good thing, something that highlights newfound strengths.
Just Tell Them
Be confident and honest. Those are qualities most everyone can agree are great to have in a candidate. Interviewers know acknowledging you were fired isn’t easy. But doing so demonstrates your character. So just tell them. Let them know what you learned, how you’re a better employee, and avoid mentioning anything negative about your previous boss. The thing is, the person who’s sitting in front of the interviewer now isn’t the same you who was fired from your previous job. You’re different. You’ve learned things. Show your potential employer that.