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What to say in a job interview if you’re fired?

Interviews can be tricky. You always want to put your best foot forward. So of course you prepare examples of your key skills, prepare some case studies to talk through, plan a nice outfit and be always punctual. But sometimes a simple question can get things out of the way completely.

Often that question is, “Why did you leave your last job?”

Of course, there are plenty of reasons why you might be looking for a new career. Maybe you moved, decided to change roles, or just wanted a new challenge. However, if you were fired from your previous job, be honest.

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Getting fired is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s more common than ever. According to a report by Market overview

Rising costs, rising interest rates and inflation are driving many companies’ decisions to cut costs and improve their bottom line. It’s also not uncommon for entire project teams to be let go if a company rationalizes and decides that a particular business goal is no longer viable.

With a looming recession on the horizon, many of us will have to face these tough conversations with potential employers. But don’t worry, we’ve got the tips you need to take a chance from a potentially tricky road to nowhere.

Treat your emotions first

Getting fired is a daunting and often stressful situation. It can take its toll on you both financially and mentally. Before applying for jobs and attending job interviews, deal with your emotions first. Things like writing down how you feel, or talking to a trusted friend or mentor can really help.

As soon as you start to feel good about yourself again, you make a much better impression on your conversation partner.

Less is more

Before you go to your interview, think about how you’re going to talk about your latest role. It helps if you can write maybe two or three sentences to explain why you were let go.

For example: “Changing business priorities caused my department to shrink. Unfortunately, this meant my role was cancelled.” When people are in job interviews, they tend to have doubts. If you’ve prepared a clear answer, don’t go out of your way when you’re nervous, or stand completely still.

Keep it PG

We know this can be tricky, especially if you left your previous employment on a bad note. However, it is very important to stay calm and positive when talking about your latest role. After all, the hiring manager is trying to figure out if you’re a team player. They also evaluate your resilience. So be honest, keep your body language neutral and don’t raise your voice no matter what you do.

Give it a spin

The best way to describe a termination is to divert the conversation from why it happened and focus instead on what it taught you and how you coped with the disappointment.

For example: “After I was fired, I realized I needed to develop my x-area skills to move up the career ladder. I signed up for an online course and spent a lot of time on personal development.” Focus on what you’ve learned and accept responsibility for any mistakes you’ve made.

Do not lie

There is a big difference between covering up a bad situation and telling a lie. If you were fired for misconduct at work, don’t say you quit on your own terms. Remember that your potential employer can contact your references or previous managers for more information, so don’t hide anything.

End on a climax

To make sure your meeting ends on a positive note, take a moment at the end of the chat to summarize what you think you can bring to the organization. List your key skills and attributes, focus on your development, and discuss how you can help them achieve their goals.

Getting fired is something that happens to millions of people around the world every year. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it could make you a much better, more resilient worker in the long run.

Start your search for your next position on the House of Talent job board today


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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