So you’ve been fired – how do you discuss this in an interview?

So you’ve been fired!

So you’ve been fired – how do you discuss this in an interview?

If you are one of the many people who have been fired or “asked to leave” a job, you’ll know how this can have a negative impact when you are looking for a new role.  Always try and leave your employment prior to be fired as then you can honestly say you left of your own volition. Here I offer some practical tips and information to help you with your application process.

  1. Firstly, don’t manic – what have you learned from the experience? If you were completely at fault, take time to reflect on your failings and analyse the reasons for them. What can you do to ensure that this will not reoccur? Was the role and company culture a good fit for you – maybe you’re in need of a change?
  2. Once you’ve assured yourself that this is in the past and you are on to greener pastures, it’s time to prepare your CV and cover letter. Do not mention your reason for leaving any of your previous roles. You could say that you are looking for a change/challenge or that you are specifically targeting said company as you’ve had a desire to work there for some time.
  3. Next come the excuses! If your company does not have a policy of providing detailed references, you’re in luck as they will only write your dates of employment. This leaves it open for you to provide a variety of reasons for leaving such as – not the right fit, not challenging enough, no room for progression, learned a lot but ready for a change at this stage of your career.
  4. If the company does provide references, you need to find out in advance what they are going to say to a prospective employer – simply ask them so you know what to expect – it might not be as bad as you think as there a legal restrictions on providing a negative reference! It also looks bad on an employer if you were let go for underperforming, as it highlights their inability to motivate and monitor staff so many do not wish to admit this.
  5. Oftentimes an employer asks you to give them 2 referees so you can give alternative employers other than the one you were dismissed from.
  6. If in an interview, you are asked straight out your reasons for leaving, most people say be honest and say why. The key is not to lie as you could be let go further down the line if they discovered this. I would not get into too much detail. Have a comfortable answer prepared so you don’t ramble. Always end it with what you’ve learned from the experience and never blame anyone else– we’re human and not infallible.
  7. Lastly, if you don’t secure the role, do not automatically presume it was because you were fired in the past. There are dozens of reasons why people are not selected. Ask for feedback on your interview and use this critique to improve in the future.


Being fired doesn’t have to mean the end of your career

Bear in mind, how you deal with these difficult questions could end up securing you the role especially if you’re applying for a customer service position. It shows a skill in delivering negative/bad news in a professional, tactful and confident manner. Sometimes the truth sounds worse than the situation was so soften it where possible.

Written by Gillian Donohoe MSc FCIPD, Managing Director, Kala Management Solutions Limited.

If you like this article, please visit for many more. For further information on interview coaching or CV advice, contact    Send article as PDF   

Comments are closed.

Copyright 2015, Kala. All Rights Reserved. | Kala