At some point in your job search, you might need to answer the question, “Why did you leave your last job?” If you’re changing careers or simply looking to start fresh with a different company, this answer should be relatively straightforward. However, if you were terminated from your last job, answering this question can be a bit challenging without the proper preparation. No one enjoys talking about getting fired from a job, but the only way to truly get over such an episode, is to own up to it as best as you can.
While there can be a variety of reasons for getting fired from a job from corporate downsizing, poor performance, merger and acquisition, it doesn’t make answering this question feel any less daunting. Regardless of the reason, be sure to follow these four easy steps to know how to better prepare for it:
- Come to terms with getting fired
It can be tough to bounce back after you’ve been fired from a job, however, the best way to make sure it won’t happen again is to first be honest about the situation. Take a few days or weeks to think critically (and objectively) about why you were fired and be sure that you first acknowledge how you have played a role in the end result. Without accepting what has happened, you run the risk of your emotions getting the best of you during interviews. To avoid this, think about what you could have done differently to prevent that situation from happening.
- Don’t lie
It can be tempting to bend the truth in order to come off as a better candidate, however, this always has a way of catching up with you. If an employer is truly considering hiring you, they will run a background check (including your professional references), to ensure everything you’ve detailed during your interviews add up. When prompted to answer, “Why did you leave your last job,” be as honest and succinct as possible in your response. Long-winded responses tend to raise red flags for a hiring manager as it may indicate you have something to hide or you aren’t telling the truth.
- What have you learned
After every great defeat, you should be able to pinpoint something that you learned as a result of going through that experience. In the case of getting fired from a job, that lesson could come in a number of ways depending on why you were fired. Whether you’ve changed certain processes to catch last-minute errors, or figured out the best way to deal with difficult employees or managers, hiring managers want to be convinced that you won’t make the same mistakes again. As a result, don’t settle for simply explaining the problem to your interviewer; instead, provide them with a thorough solution of how you will apply the improvements you’ve made to your new role.
- Don’t bad mouth your previous employer
While it can be easy to place the blame on your employer, an interview for another role is not the appropriate time to vent about it. Once you begin to bad mouth a former employer/employee, most of your credibility will go out of the window. Therefore, try your best to turn a negative into a positive by holding yourself accountable for anything that could have been done differently on your behalf.