There are many difficult questions in an interview. Figuring out the best way to answer questions is a thought process you should go through before an interview rather than trying to come up with an answer on the spot. One of the more difficult questions is how to respond when the interviewer asks you about your past work history. If this history includes being fired from a previous job, the response can be even more difficult.
Keep in mind that a termination does not automatically exclude you from being considered, as long as the reason for the termination is not related to the job you are applying for. In other words, being fired from your job as a courier should not affect your application for a job as a bank teller. Being fired for embezzlement, however, can have a catastrophic effect on an application to work in a bank.
If you are using a resume, you have a Temporary reprieve from responding to this question. Many companies, however, also use an online job application which asks this question right up front. Find a balance in your application response. Do not make the answer vague as if you want the hiring manager to guess the real reason. They do not have time to try to figure out what you mean. They will quickly move on to the next application. Don’t go into too much detail on the application. They are not asking for your life story. Make the answer on the application short and concise.
If your application screens through, you will need to respond to the question again in the interview – this time in front of the hiring manager and possibly an interview panel. Remember the time to think of the response is before you sit in the interview – this gives you the opportunity to find the right words to use.
Blaming your former (or current) boss, co-workers, the market, is not the way to go. The best answer includes a short explanation of why you were fired, followed by what you learned from the experience. For example, let’s say you were terminated for excessive tardiness. It’s possible you were late because the trip was forty minutes and you gave yourself exactly forty minutes to get to work. You did not take into consideration traffic, parking the car, walking to the building and getting to your desk. What you learned was that you needed to give yourself extra time in the morning to account for the unknowns.
Whatever the reason for being fired, keep your answers honest and brief. Talking too much or too little may get you into unnecessary trouble. Keep your attitude positive. Being fired is traumatic, reliving the moment can be difficult – keep positive, share and move on.