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‘Why were you fired?’ Turning the toughest interview question to your advantage

Being fired is not the end of the world and you have the power to turn the situation around

You are sitting in the interview room and everything is going well until you are asked: “Why were you fired from your last job?” This is a tough question; however, with careful handling, you can turn it to your advantage.

The most important thing is to tell the truth. Lying is not the way to make a good impression and if the interviewer checks your story, this may affect your chances of getting work.

The first interview is a golden opportunity to present yourself in the best light and you want to walk away from it feeling that you have done a good job. Be honest about why you were ‘let go’, but don’t spend too long talking about it. Being fired simply means you have been given the chance to move on; therefore, tell the truth and then focus on the positive aspects of your changed circumstances.

Perhaps being fired has given you chance to find your dream role, or perhaps you have learnt from the experience and can put your improved skills to good use for another employer.

Remember that your interviewer will want to know why you want to join a new firm, even if they don’t ask why you were fired. The interview is your chance to state your case and a great opportunity to explain; for example, perhaps you felt you had progressed as far as you could in your old job and your experiences have given you the confidence to move on to something new and more challenging.

Spending time scoring points against a former boss with whom you did not see eye to eye is a waste of valuable time. This time would be better spent building up the picture of yourself as a determined individual who is resilient, flexible, and proactive in adapting to changing circumstances.

The key is to be positive. A prospective employer wants to hear about your strengths, skills and what makes you worth hiring; after all, you can start a new job straight away if you have been fired. This can be a major plus point.

Each working relationship is different and the circumstances and individuals will dictate how you get on. It may be that you didn’t like being micro-managed in the position you have just left or did not feel valued or appreciated; however, a job interview is not the place to voice such comments. You may feel that these are valid points but bringing them up, especially if you are finding it hard to hide any resentment, will create a negative impression.

It is far better to spend some time working out how to answer the question in a positive way so that the interviewer is left knowing that you had a valid reason for leaving. This, coupled with your constructive attitude to learning from the experience and being proactive in finding a new challenge, could result in you being snapped up for your next job as quickly as possible.

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