Perhaps it wasn’t a question of personal abilities, you didn’t do anything wrong, heck – maybe you didn’t even deserve it. But, you got fired from your last job.
You’re over it now, time to move on. But as you’re suiting up for the big interview, your mind begins to consider that inevitable question. Eventually, your prospective employer will look up, staring into your eyes:
“So, why did you leave your last job?”
PANIC, YOU GOT FIRED FROM YOUR LAST JOB.
Don’t panic, layoffs are a part of business and they happen daily. The best thing you can do is to be prepared. If you are asked a question that may expose something negative, find balance between these principles:
- Keep it short and simple
- Don’t phrase things in a negative way
- Don’t give away too much information
- Be truthful
If asked, don’t deny the fact that you were let go, but you don’t need to disclose details or provide any rationale for your departure either. Keep it concise, and respond with confidence – these things happen. Try something like this:
- The company had a reduction of workforce
- The organization restructured my department
- The company downsized
These explanations acknowledge the fact that you were impacted by a change, but they don’t admit guilt, confess performance issues, or divulge the specific reason for your departure.
Keeping that in mind, avoid the following at all cost:
- “I made the decision to leave in order to pursue other opportunities” – Yeah, right. Nobody leaves a good job. Pursing other opportunities while you are employed, sure, but you wouldn’t quit voluntarily before you secured something better.
- “My boss and I didn’t get on well” – Red flag to your interviewer: you’re difficult to work with, you’re combative, and you’re not a team player.
- “I was bored and unchallenged” – An all-star employee makes the best of any situation. Additionally, shaming your past employer will get you nowhere.
Discussing your termination will be a touchy and uncomfortable topic for you, but your interviewer does not need to know that. Show confidence, preparedness, and sensibility. Spend time preparing for how you will handle this question well in advance and you’ll find that most prospective employers will be favorably impressed with you.