Fired? How To Handle A Previous
Termination Or Job Loss During Interviews
Nimish Thakkar, MS, MBA,
CCMC, CPRW, SaiCareers.com,
January 05, 2006
fired!" the infamous line made popular by Donald Trump through his TV
show "The Apprentice" (2004), remains a major fear factor for most of
the employed workforce. Almost no one (masochists excluded) wants to
face the axe (get fired). The undesirable happens, though, and you, a
valued employee, are suddenly presented with a pink slip
(fired). (Check with your attorney if you were wrongfully terminated.)
The agony of job searching all over again is further aggravated by the
fear of facing interview questions about the sudden termination.
Relax. The right preparation and attitude can help you handle the
toughest interview questions. We outline, here, a few tips for
handling the situation.
Stop playing the blame game; accept the situation and get on
first thing you need to do is to stop blaming yourself and others. The
job loss may have nothing to do with you or your abilities; often
corporations, under extreme pressure from stakeholders and investors,
resort to mass layoffs as an easy way to improve bottom line
performance. Why should you take blame for that? You will perform much
better at interviews -- and otherwise -- if you just accept the
situation and make attempts to move further.
Under the prevailing economic environment, mass layoffs are not
uncommon. Most employers are aware of this and would understand your
Establish your value
The employer would be very reluctant to let you
pass if you have done a great job at establishing your value --
resume, cover letter, examples of previous results and
interview responses, etc. -- and at demonstrating the
potential benefits of hiring you. After all, why would an employer
want to let go of a potentially valuable employee?
Neutralize the situation; start with a positive response First, donít
volunteer information unless asked. If asked about the job loss or
termination, though, be concise and try to use language that tactfully
neutralizes the issue without compromising integrity (never lie).
In response to a question about the termination, you could attempt to
start your answer on a positive note: ďThe previous month, I was a
recipient of XYZ award for performing at XYZ% over benchmarks ÖĒ Then
slowly introduce the job loss without hurting yourself.
If you are able to deliver smoothly, you could also describe how you
have improved since your last termination (if you were singled out and
fired). When unsure about your response, do not hesitate to seek
Since companies can always check with your previous
employers, it is very important to be honest. You could neutralize or
minimize the impact of the situation but never lie.
Avoid vandalizing your former supervisor or employer
As much as you
would like to vent your true feelings and anger, an interview is not
the appropriate environment for such behavior. Speaking ill about your
previous employer may backfire on you, so be careful. Be as positive
as you possibly can.
A job loss can be very stressful, causing candidates to
deliver contradictory responses. Some interviewers are very tactful
and ask the same questions (worded differently) at different times
during the interview. Be consistent.
Practice your answers
If possible, practice your interview responses
with a professional or [knowledgeable] friend (who is qualified enough
to provide constructive feedback). Donít confuse practice with
memorizing; some candidates try to memorize answers to common
questions. You could rehearse your responses a few times, but try not
Donít burn the bridges
Try to leave your previous employer on a
positive note. Circumstances often change, causing employers to
re-hire previously laid-off employees. If you leave on a positive
note, the previous employer may also help you with networking
contacts, job search assistance, strong
references (if you left on
positive terms, they might say great things about you), etc.
Build strong references
references who would say positive
things about you is very important, but that wouldnít necessarily
limit a potential employer to only those
references. If you need to
know what your references would say about you, there are professional
firms who specialize in checking your references.
Most important: donít be discouraged; you are not alone in all this. If you have established your
value, written a great resume, networked well, and launched an
aggressive job search campaign, there will be plenty of opportunities
to move ahead.
Sample Interview Questions
Free Job Interview Tips
How To Improve Your Interviewing Skills
We hope you enjoyed
the following article: "Fired? How To Handle A Previous
Termination Or Job Loss During Interviews."