There are all kinds of terms for it—let go, separated, terminated—but they all mean the same thing – fired! And when you’re sitting in a job interview, you’ll need to explain why if it happened to you.

It’s uncomfortable to sit across from a hiring manager and face that inevitable question: “Why were you let go from your last job?” But there’s no way around it. And since you can’t sidestep it, you need to confront it head-on. Here’s how to do it.

Honesty is still the best policy

There are a lot of “don’ts” involved here, but that’s ok, they are essential.

  • Don’t sugarcoat it. Be candid with your prospective employer
  • Don’t blame the other party. “I was a great worker. That had no reason to fire me.”
  • Don’t lie. If they do a reference check, you’ll be back on unemployment

Talk candidly about your part in the firing. Your interviewer already knows there are two sides to the story, so if you admit your role in the problem, the interviewer might be impressed with your honesty.

Be objective and don’t try to deflect blame. There are so many reasons why a job doesn’t work out, so overly simplified answers won’t work. Explain in detail any personality conflicts that were involved. Let them know if you had issues completing the tasks that were required. These reasons are understandable, and it’s far better to disclose them than to attempt a cover-up.

Tell them what you have learned from the experience.

Sometimes the most profound lessons come from a negative experience. By explaining how you have acquired wisdom that will make you a better employee moving forward, you can lessen the damage of being fired.

For instance, you could point out that you now have a better understanding of your skills and limitations. Or, explain that you’ve learned how to handle co-workers with disparate personalities in a manner that eliminates (or at least minimizes) conflict in the workplace. Talk about what you could have done differently, and you’ll show the hiring manager you have critically evaluated both sides of the issue and learned valuable lessons from it.

Everyone can improve. Stress to the prospective employer that getting fired helped you learn things about yourself, and you’re a better person and employee because of it.

Be honest about what happened and emphasize what you’ve learned from it. More than likely you will make a favorable impression on the interviewer.

Want more tips on surviving an interview?

Contact Pro Resources for the light industrial or technical/professional position you’re hoping to find. We’ve been in business for over 30 years, so let us use our expertise to help you find your next job.