How to handle the questions: Why were you fired

If you were fired from you last job, for any reason whatsoever, you will definitely dread the 'why were you fired' questioned during an interview. However, as with all the questions that are asked in an interview, this too is a good chance to score high with the interviewer. When you answer the 'why were you fired' question keep in mind that the interviewer is trying to identify your problem areas. Hence, while giving the reason of being fired keep it as objective as possible and make it sound like you have learnt from the experience.

  • Do not badmouth the previous employer: However bad you previous boss was, if you say it, you are a whiner. Employees are supposed to toe in the line, and if you say anything wrong about your ex-boss it will be seen as your adjustment, authority and team working problems.
  • Do not blame it on office politics: People who say that the they were fired because of dirty politics in the office, are prone to be misunderstood as escapists who are unable to handle conflict positively. A good worker is supposed to get around the office politics through high quality work.
  • Do not hide the real reasons: While trying to give a pleasant-to-hear answer do not hide the real reasons, i.e. if the company was going through financial problems, or if they were downsizing and found your position expendable, do not feel ashamed to say so. Emphasize how much you learnt from the past experience in the job and how much you look forward to move on. This will establish you as a mature person.
  • Do not blame incompatibility between you and your boss or your team members: A good worker will find ways to get along in the most difficult situations. Saying that you and your boss were incompatible may sound sophisticated, but in reality it reflects immaturity and an escapist attitude.
  • Do not tell lies: It is very important that you do not tell lies or make up any stories regarding the reason for firing. Firstly, because many times the employer checks out with your last work place. Secondly, for covering one lie you will find yourself telling a number of other lies to cover it. Even so, the truth has an uncanny way of popping up at the worst possible moments, and more often than not you will be embarrassed or even fired for misleading/inaccurate information.

The question, 'why were you fired' is a very delicate question which if handled well will make you look like a mature and responsible person, and if handled wrong will drastically reduce your chances to disqualify for the job.

The best way to answer this question in the right way is to be prepared for it. For this you need to practice and rehearse saying the reason in front of your friends, or anyone responsible who can give you accurate feedback on how you sound.

If you do not have an appropriate audience, then speak into a tape and listen to your voice tone and choice of words. You should not come across as bitter, whining, challenging or quarrelsome. Watch out for the tone and language when you describe the circumstances. You need to emphasize that you accept some responsibility of what happened, you gained from the experience and you are ready to use that to your advantage on the future jobs.