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In another post, we looked at ways to get back to work after you’ve been fired. Now, let’s see how to prepare for an interview after you’ve been fired from a previous job.

Interviews can be stressful!

This post will help you get relaxed and prepared for anything that will be inquired of you about your previous employment, why you were fired, etc.

Answering Interview Questions

People ask this question all the time… How do I prepare for an interview after I got fired?  

Is all hope lost?  Is my name “mud” now? 

How am I going to explain myself and answer all the interviewers’ tough questions without sounding like a loser? 

The following are some good, solid steps to follow.  I’ll walk through you it. 

First, you will want to be upfront!

Have a prepared explanation of what happened in your last job quickly and clearly.

What You SHOULD Do:

  • Demonstrate that you learned and take responsibility for your past mistakes, for YOUR END of what happened.  At least show that you have some humility.  
  • Demonstrate that you learned from it and used it to improve
  • Demonstrate that you’ve been taking steps in making sure it never happens again in the future.

What You SHOULD NOT Do:

  • Bore the interviewer with a dramatically long story about how you came to be fired.  Your story will fall on deaf ears and it will just appear to him\her that the company was justified in letting you go. 
  • Take care to never blame the company. 
  • Hesitate or look like something is being hidden. 
  • Never Lie. Throughout the whole process (including the important reference checks!) it will create a ton of stress
    • Note! that even though your previous company is limited on what they can legally say about the reason you were fired, you don’t have to be experienced psychologist to know when you’re being lied to

Below is an example of how to answer interview questions after being fired:

Now let’s role play here…Imagine that you previously had a position in sales and I as the interviewer is asking you what happened or why you left. What can you say?  Here’s a good sample answer:

“Honestly, I was let go from my last job. My performance in the highly competitive sales team I entered was not as good as the company anticipated, so I was let go two months ago. After that, I sat down and thought about what went wrong and found that it was my lack of organizing skills that held me back during my career. Also, I believe that I was spending too much time recording and no longer making sales calls for projects and commitments. In order to ensure that it is never again based on what I have experienced, I have developed a new system. If you want to know more, I will tell you about it.”

When you answer questions during the interview about being fired, immediately explain why you want to work at THEIR company

After the step above, you should then quickly concentrate the conversation quickly on your skills and how they suit the needs of this new company. 

… And let the chips fall where they may…  Remember that the interviewer can quickly find out whether you were fired or not, so why lie? 

Instead, the above step will more than likely be appreciated because you were preemptive with your honesty. 

Being preemptive simply means to ‘strike first’.  You want to control the situation by giving your version of the story first.

There is an inclination to panic and to apply to every job posting available (and to look at almost anything) when the job search is at a critical stage (you have to find something now or else!) 

Here’s the problem though: employers can smell desperation.  They want someone who selects and looks for work carefully.  

Now, after you have explained why the firing occurred and what you’re presently working on to make sure it NEVER happens again, switch the conversation and show the interviewer why you would like to work at THEIR company.

Here’s how to REFOCUS the conversation on the job at their company after you explain being fired:

“I wanted to apply here as I’ve learned from a few friends that the chance to develop as a salesman is immense due to outstanding managers ‘ training and support. I’m eager to enhance my sales career, since a sales position is the only work I’m looking for right now. This is why I wanted to learn more about this unique opportunity.”

If you follow these two steps, the way you handle job interviews after you are fired will make a significant difference. 

Being let go from a job is tough, because it happened to me, I know as well as anybody. And of course it does not happen at the right time…!

But I would have found a job much more easily if I had taken this advice instead of being ashamed and covering it up. 

This is why every time someone asks me how to go about an interview after being fired, I recommend this process.

Another tip for a job once you are fired: Project a positive job search to the interviewer.  

The interviewer may ask you what other companies you have interviewed with or how the job search is going.  If you project a negative picture, then why would they want to hire you if other companies do not? 

It is important to portray an excited and optimistic attitude when answering these questions. Of course, for every job seeker this is important, but it is especially important during a job search after being let go. 

Now, there is no reason to lie here and say that you have so many job offers or interviews pouring in you can’t keep up with them. (Remember, they can no doubt tell when you’re lying).  

Instead, you can say a statement similar to this:

“It’s been going very well with my job search so far. I have received some good responses from the companies to which I have applied and I am beginning to focus only on the companies I really want to interview for. I haven’t made a decision on which companies I want yet… but so far, I’m optimistic that I will get one I’m happy with.”  

If you feel like you’re lying, think about the fact that even companies that reject you are nice about it and give a good response such as “Thanks for applying” or “We appreciate your application”.  That’s still a good response right?  

The important thing is to not project a negative ‘No one wants me’ vibe.  

think, do, be positive concept handwritten on black chalkboard

The above quote has worked for me in the interviews I went on after I was let go.  

Just let them know that it is still early in the process and are beginning to get some interviews. That’s going to help you a lot in your first few interviews after being fired… and it’s probably true (you have been talking to companies, etc.).

In another blog post we shared that after you are fired you can point out specific reasons why you want to work at their company to increase your chances of finding work. 

Now that you’ve told them why you’re looking to work in THEIR COMPANY, you can give them a bit of a hint that you’re in demand by other companies. 

You can say something like this: 

“In fact, all the companies I’m talking with at the moment are similar to this one… medium-to-big companies that are known to have great sales training and practices and good company culture.” 

To recap, we’ve covered some good tips on how to get a job after being let go, how to interview after you’ve been fired, and how to answer specific questions from interviewers. 

It may seem like a lot to remember, but it will be okay!

Please breathe and calm down!  Don’t act desperate and we wish you the best in your job hunt. 

We’ll be posting more articles in the future, so keep checking back on our site! 

It can be scary to find a job after you are fired, but hopefully, you will only need to do it once in your lifetime!