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Interview Prep
This Is How to Explain You Were Fired in an Interview
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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So you got fired, and now you're looking for a new job. It's not the end of the world. You're not the first person to be fired. And you will find another job, even if you have to admit that you've been fired during your prospective job interviews.

While it may feel painstakingly uncomfortable, there are ways to go about disclosing your past firing professionally, without sabotaging your chances with a new company.

Breathe.

Forbes contributor Liz Ryan even suggests that everyone should get fired at least once.

"I think everybody should get fired at least once during their career," she says. "After they get fired it will hit them that they don't need to cower in fear of their boss or anyone else. Your boss can tell you to hit the bricks, and that's fine. You can likewise take off from your job whenever your body signals you that it's time to go. You will only get stronger with every transition. It's a new day in the working world. Your mission is not to please everyone around you. Not everyone will get you — but only the people who get you, deserve you!"

She also goes on to explain that getting fired, really, isn't such a big deal.

"When you start your next job hunt, you'll say, 'I left Acme Explosives to explore other interesting things, like the work you're doing here at Angry Chocolates,'" she writes. "Getting fired is nothing you have to apologize for. It is a form of quitting, but it's the kind of quitting where your manager speaks one millisecond before you do."

With that said, here's when and how to tell your potential new employers that you've been fired (and when to leave it out of your discussion altogether).

When Not to Tell Your Prospective Employer That You Were Fired

If you're asked why you left your last job, and you didn't do so by free will, don't sweat it. You don't necessarily need to tell your potential new employer that you've been fired and left because, well, you had to leave.

Here are three times when you shouldn't disclose that you've been fired.

1. No One Asked You

If your interviewer doesn't ask you anything about your former position, you don't need to bring up outnowherehere that you were actually fired from that one. If they don't ask, don't tell. It's as simple as that.

2. It Doesn't Matter

Sometimes, your getting fired doesn't really matter all that much. Maybe you got fired for something that genuinely wasn't your fault. Maybe you got laid off with the whole rest of the team, so getting "fired" really had little to nothing to do with you anyway. Or maybe your last job is in a completely irrelevant field and you can leave it off your resume altogether for this new job application (assuming you can explain the gap in work). While you should never lie, you don't necessarily have to bring up the fact that you were fired.

Sometimes, it's more about how you handled getting fired than getting fired itself. If you handled your situation professionally, don't sweat it so much and just move on.

3. You Got Fired Happened Several Jobs Ago

Maybe you got fired several jobs ago, or perhaps you're a freelancer and got fired from one of your several jobs. If this is the case, you just don't always need to talk about that one job unless it's specifically asked of you. Instead, focus on the jobs you did have (or still do have) and thrived or are thriving in.

When to Tell Your Prospective Employer That You Were Fired

You'll have to tell your potential new employer that you've been fired when it's specifically asked of you or blatantly obvious so you can't just evade the conversation. But rest assured that how you handle this discussion is what will make or break your chances at this new opportunity — not the firing itself. 

So let's dive into how to tell your prospective employer that you were fired.

How to Tell Your Prospective Employer That You Were Fired

Here are four ways to tell your potential new boss or whoever the interviewer is at your potential new company that, yes, you've been fired but, yes, you're still a qualified candidate for the job.

1. Tell Them the Truth

If you've been fired, and you understand where exactly you went wrong, it's wise to just speak the truth. You don't need to explain everything emotionally (nor should you); just share the straight facts.

Besides, showing that you can acknowledge and admit to your faults is a good quality. That said, you'll also want to make sure that, after admitting the truth, you'll want to be sure to explain how you learned from that experience. This will tell your interviewer that you don't intend for anything like that to happen again, and you are a responsible professional who is willing to learn and grow.

2. Tell Them How Getting Fired Was Actually a Blessing in Disguise

Without making them think that you're only going to repeat history, let your potential new employer think of your getting fired in a positive light. Suggest, for example, that while you were indeed fired from your last position, you believe that it was for the best so that you can explore opportunities that excite you more (such as this one).

3. Explain the Learning Experience From Getting Fired

Again, it's important that, if your interviewer knows you've been fired, they also know that you learned a great deal from that situation. You might want to specifically list out what you'd learned from getting fired in your last position.

4. Take the Blame (But Note That It Wasn't All Your Fault)

Your interviewer might be inclined to ask you whether you think getting fired was actually your fault or not. If this is the case, you'll have an opportunity to actually share some of the blame with other parties. Of course, you don't want to brush it off as though you did absolutely nothing wrong (because, if that were the case, you'd probably still have your job). And you don't want it to seem like you learned nothing from your mistakes because you refuse to accept responsibility.

That said, you can explain to what degree you think other parties were also responsible for the firing. You don't want to talk negatively about your previous employer or colleagues, however, so you can leave it as you are willing to take responsibility for your role.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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