Explaining You Were Fired In An Interview

Losing your job is a hard pill to swallow. But explaining you were fired to prospective employers can be downright nauseating. Nine out of 10 times interviewers will ask why you left your last job. So it pays to prepare and rehearse how you’re going to answer this question when it pops up.

Firstly, it’s okay to admit you were fired. It happens. Companies go through rough patches, downsize, restructure. Being let go won’t instantly put a nail in the coffin of your application, but how you communicate it to the interviewer might.

So, when you are asked “why did you leave you last job?” keep one key thing in mind – BE POSITIVE.

You want to give a short honest answer but with a positive spin that turns the direction of questioning. Here are a few example responses, depending on your situation.

If other people were laid off as well:

“Actually, I was laid off, as was the Controller, Financial Analyst and Accountant, during the company restructuring – but I really enjoyed working for them.”

If you were the only person laid off:

“Unfortunately my position was restructured but I learnt so much from X company and really enjoyed my time there.”

If you didn’t get along with your boss or coworkers, focus on the job:

“I loved the position I worked for, these were the x, y, z things that were great about the role. That being said, for me cultural fit is really important and unfortunately it wasn’t quite the right fit.”

For this last situation, you can give a small example if probed but nothing that’s too negative or points to you as the issue and implies you didn’t get along with your coworkers/boss.

Most interviewers won’t want the full minute details, but they are watching for any warning signs that you are too negative or overly defensive. It’s important to be honest but never complain about your past employers and focus on any positives and learning experiences you took from it

In your interview, don’t forget..

This is also the time to pay some attention to your references. You need to know if your references will align with what you have discussed with the interviewer. If you’re not sure if a direct reference will paint a positive picture, choose another hiring manager who has something valuable to say about you.