Why were
you fired?

If you've been let go from a position in the past, and you're interviewing for a new job, it's almost a guarantee that the interviewer is going to ask why you were fired. And this is where we come in. we'll help you get prepared for this question, take some of the fear out of it and make sure you still get across your best self.

Why it helps to be honest and open about it

Never try to hide anything from an interviewer. If it comes out at a later date that you've been deceitful, the harm to your reputation will be far more damaging than if you were just honest up front. Most employers understand there are a whole host of reasons someone might be let go and will be willing to give you a fair hearing.

Focus on what you've learned and how it made you a better professional

Whether or not you feel your firing was your employers fault, or your own fault, always make sure you stick to the lessons learned from it. How did it make you a better person? What specific lessons did you learn and can apply to your new company? Never complain or moan about your situation.

How often does this question come up in interviews

This might come up if you have some very short term employment records on your CV. For example, if you only worked for a couple of months at an organization, or if your previous employer has mentioned you were let go. Otherwise the interviewer might stick to the more common, "Why did you decide to leave your current role"

How hard is this question to answer

This might seem difficult to answer, but as long as you're open, honest, and list the lessons you learned, it's far easier to answer than you might think.

Why would an interviewer ask this question

They want to know if you have any behaviors they should watch out for. Are you bringing those negative behaviors to this new workplace? They also want to find out if you've learned anything from your experience and what value you can add to them.

Example of very good answer

Let's have a look at an imaginary example. Our candidate with 15 years industry experience has just been asked, "Why were you fired?". Let's see their answer:

"I had some irreconcilable differences with the way my boss managed the team. We both tried to manage the relationship for several years before my dismissal, but we were unable to see eye to eye. We realized the true cause was that after 15 years I had just outgrown the role and was no longer suitable for that position. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise really as it has allowed me to assess my skill set and look for a job where I can put those skills to use."

Here, our candidate was honest about the relationship with their boss. And, they could evidence they had worked to try and fix the problem before finally realizing there was a lesson to be learned at the end of it.

Be honest

Never try to trick an interviewer as the consequences will always come back to bite you

Show what you've learned

List some specific lessons you've learned as a result of your dismissal

Put the interviewer's mind at ease

Let them know your dismissal wasn't for any egregious behavior like stealing. Show them how you tried to learn.

Get good references

Find people at your former company willing to stick up for you, this will help in the transition to a new job.

Say positive things about your former employer

Show there are no hard feelings and that you still learned from them despite being fired.

Don't assign blame

Don't rant about your former boss or blame anyone. Being let go is simply an event that happened. Don't hold grudges.

Need more advice?
If you found this advice useful, why not head on over to UPChapter.com/interview-questions for more useful articles like this one? You'll find how-to guides, career tools and much more to help you land the career you're looking for.
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Why were
you fired?