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Focus on Interviews – How do I explain being fired from my last job?

Focus on what happened

Think about why you were fired, and get honest feedback from former coworkers, friends, and family. Did you make too many mistakes? Did you act unprofessionally? Were you affected by poor working conditions (e.g., long commute, difficult hours, etc.)? Was it a bad cultural fit? Focusing on what went wrong can help you articulate the experience in a positive way.

Focus on honesty

  • Assume the recruiter will contact your former employer. They will likely verify:
    • You were indeed employed by the company during the time stated on your resume
    • Your eligibility for re-hire.
  • Do not include the firing on your resume but be honest if asked on the application or by an interviewer. Recruiters are more likely to hire someone that was fired from their last job then a candidate that lies in their interview or on their application.

Focus on the positive

  • Do not criticize or place blame on your former company or leadership team.
  • Your references may be contacted, so choose them carefully. The recruiter will likely reach out to your former manager, but you can list friendly former co-workers as references. Be sure you contact them first so they know they may get a call and be prepared to speak positively about you.
  • Don’t mention the termination on your resume, but if asked, be honest, and do your best to “spin” the termination in your favor. Examples:
    • The position was a good learning experience but was not a good fit for my skills and interest.
    • I was grateful for the opportunity to work at [former company], but the working conditions [e.g., long commute] affected my performance. The position at [hiring company] would be a much better work/life balance, where I’m confident I can succeed.
    • I learned from my mistakes and hope to leverage that experience going forward.

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