Answering “Why Were You Fired?”

why you were firedThis question is probably one of the hardest one’s to answer. Here’s some advice to steer your answer in the right direction. The only sure fire way to get this answer right is if you prepare and practice it until you sound confident and comfortable in  your answer. The words should come from your mouth steady with confidence, not hesitation.

Being honest is also very crucial. You don’t want to say one thing and then your past employer say another so make sure you both are on the same page. You can do this by calling them and see if you can work with them on this topic. Most WNY employers do not want to to be sued or deal with any future problems so they will most likely work with you. This is a litigious society with people suing left and right so a lot of HR departments only say the dates you were employed, how much you made, and your title–and that’s it. Therefore, it’s important to get in contact with your past employer and just work with them.

In addition, once you are fully prepared, you will no longer go into the interview defensively or in a way that makes you end up turning the interview into a therapy session. Whether you left on good terms or not, go into every interview positive and with a respectful demeanor. Respect is a very important trait to have in the business world. Therefore, you should never bad mouth anyone such as saying your last manager was a jerk.

Also, job seekers like to use general answers that end up hurting them more than helping. For example, if you use the line, “I wasn’t a good fit there because of the managers style or the company’s culture,” that may sound good, but then the recruiter will ask what was the style and culture and why you didn’t mesh. This puts you in a corner and if the cultures of the two companies are similar, you won’t be hired. A better answer would be one that prevents the recruiter from asking following-up questions.

Lastly, just be honest and reasonable with your recruiter. They understand that people get let go all the time for minor or major reasons, but life goes on so it’s only what happens in the future that really matters. Listed below are some answers to this question. They are all real scenarios that you may identify with and can use as a template.

Sample Answers to “Why Are You No Longer at Your Last Employer?”

  • My position changed and I was not fully qualified to be successful in it anymore
  • I was downsized when my position was eliminated
  • I though the position was geared toward certain skills but it ended up going in a different way
  • I had some serious family issues to take care of at that time, and I couldn’t manage the two
  • We had a new manager come in, and they did some changes
  • My qualifications were not the right match for my previous employer’s needs, but I feel I am a strong fit your your organization
  • My employer and I agreed that the job wasn’t working out so we agreed that it was time for me to move on.

It’s important to keep in mind that as long you contact your past employer and get on the same page with them, you can have a nice short & sweet answer. Be honest, upfront and put the past behind you. Nobody is perfect, and an employer shouldn’t expect perfection.


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