Explaining Your Wrongful Termination at a New Job Interview

If you've experienced wrongful termination, you've already been through one nightmare, but the job interview doesn't have to be another. It is quite easy to explain your situation to interviewers.

The fact is that wrongful termination isn't exactly unknown in the workplace. It does happen, and experienced managers and supervisors invariably know how to spot it. They won't judge you on the basis of siding with the former employer, but on the merits of what you say.

The problem is that most people who've been wrongfully terminated don't express themselves at interviews very well. Many are still extremely upset by the memories, and can sometimes barely speak about it. The information therefore lacks enough detail to tell interviewers what they need to know.

The interviewers may well believe them, but can't recommend someone for an appointment on that basis, with no information to support it. To make your case, you need to organize your information and be able to explain clearly the circumstances regarding the termination. 

Example

John Smith helped do an inventory for the hardware shop in June, and signed off on the figures. In November, it was discovered that all items of one particular category, a type of screw, were missing. Smith was held responsible, and fired on the spot.

This is how experienced managers assess a situation like this:

  • It took someone 5 months to find a problem like that, which should have been instantly noticeable.
  • There was no indication that Smith had anything to do with the situation, apart from signing off on the inventory in June.
  • It's very rare that anyone is held responsible for the entire contents of an inventory, months later.
  • Sales and reordering over the 5 month period weren't considered.
  • He wasn't charged or accused of theft.

An obvious case of wrongful termination. As you can see, the facts of a situation like that, and the inevitable mistakes made in cases of wrongful termination, are pretty easy to spot. Don't get scared off by your own case, because professional managers will be able to tell you're telling the truth.

How to state your case

Like the example, keep your narrative short and factual. Don't express any opinions, just stick to the issues. The more straightforward, the better. Added detail can clutter up your information content.

Not all situations translate easily into a narrative. You may need to think about how you want to organize your information so it's easily understood by people hearing it for the first time. The interviewers need to hear a simple but accurate description of the reasons for your wrongful termination.

You can also double-check your information to make sure it explains the issues:

  • The circumstances are a clear series of events, in sequence.
  • The information shows obvious discrepancies which show wrongful termination was in fact the case.
  • There were obvious procedures and facts which the former employer should have considered, but didn't, related to the termination.

Wrongful terminations rarely survive much scrutiny. Make sure the interviewers get the whole story, and you won't have any problems.