Getting fired is tough on its own. Now add the fact that you will probably have to discuss it during your job search. While it’s normal to feel anxious or frustrated in this situation, there is absolutely still hope. Many people will be fired once or more in their careers and have been able to bounce back. Here are some tips to help you discuss your termination during job interviews.
Know what you can and can’t say.
You may have signed some sort of nondisclosure agreement with your previous employer, or the event details may revolve around company-sensitive information. Review your previous company’s handbook, contact HR or your previous supervisor. It’s no secret that you got fired, and you’re usually allowed to discuss events that lead up to the incident. But when in doubt, always ask what you’re allowed to reveal.
It’s not that you or your previous employer are trying to hide the fact that you were fired by the company. Moreso, you want to make yourself aware of any information in the situation that would be considered “confidential” or “sensitive.” A violation of a nondisclosure agreement or sharing of your previous employer’s trade secrets can land you in legal hot water.
You’re probably dreading talking about getting fired. But this is a hard-evidence chance to show your new potential employer that you’re an honest person even in the face of discussing difficult subjects. If you find yourself getting anxious at the thought of discussing your termination, make a timeline of the events before your interview. Visually walking yourself through the event of getting fired will help you look at the facts instead of the frenzy of emotion that we can whip ourselves into.
Avoid finger-pointing at all cost.
While you obviously want to persuade your interviewer to see things from your side, you want to frame yourself in a light that doesn’t involve a bunch of finger-pointing at how awful and unfair it was that you were let go.
Feeling bitter? Before you start interviewing, try taking an honest look at what happened. Weigh the parts that you contributed to, and that your employer contributed to. Unless it was a predatory situation (in which case you’ll legally need to know what you’re allowed to disclose), usually both employer and employee have something to do with the firing.
Your interviewer is looking for employees with self-awareness and those who are adamant and honest about self-improvement. Taking matters into your own hands will help fortify soft skills you may discuss. A person who claims to be a “problem-solver,” and is able to discuss what they would have done differently or what they would have done to avoid getting fired, is much more trustworthy than one who claims to be a “problem-solver” and points all the blame on their ex-employer.
Getting fired is a hard time for anyone, but it’s certainly not the end of your career. The way you discuss your termination will determine whether you get hired or not. Practice until talking about your termination doesn’t raise your anxiety levels. And always avoid sensitive information that could land you in legal trouble. To help you champion the situation, make a timeline or list of events for your own review. Think of what you would have done differently and how you’d describe it to a potential employer and lead into your enthusiasm for your new potential job.