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Have you ever been fired from a job?


Elimination is often the practice when it comes to high volume responses to singular job postings. Recruiters may sort first by current work status, location and prior industry or workplace relevance. Yet gaps in a resume will always raise a flag – though not necessarily a red one.  RedFlag

Interruptions in work history are quite the norm, but the red flag may wave when it is repeated or long term. So you must be prepared.

While I may be reiterating some thoughts on the article linked below, I do maintain that honesty is the best policy. Yet one should be prepared to answer that question with a brief response, not overly hesitant and be able to promptly state what was learned from the experience.

As we all know, a strong and experienced interviewer will be asking open-ended questions, vs. those that allow for only a yes or no answer. But let’s start with one here, mock style:

INT: Have you ever been fired?

YOU: No, never; or No, but I’ve been laid off. Or, YES I have.

INT: Can you tell me about a time when you were fired from a job?

YOU: Actually, the only time I’ve lost a job was due to workforce reductions.

ORYes, I was let go once for ____________. While I knew the requirements (i.e. sales quota) for this job, I was having quite a bit of difficulty selling this technology/system with the volume  and time frame expected of me.

INT: So what did you learn from that experience?

YOU: It may not have been a good fit for me at the time. I was quite challenged and was too embarrassed to ask for help. I really needed to have a stronger understanding of the technology behind the product to be able to anticipate customer needs. What I’ve learned that is that I needed to self-study more beyond the training provided.

The quickest response is typically the most honest. Body language and tone may communicate more then your one word response. Even a defensive ‘NO’ can raise a flag.

So let’s say for a moment that yes, you’ve been fired. It is unlikely that an agency recruiter you are interviewing with have ever terminated someone before. But when interviewing with someone in a management or decision making role, it is quite possible they’ve had to fire someone in the past, for cause. They’ve been down this road and they should know the ropes.

Legitimate reasons for being terminated are usually not a surprise to the employee. If a company is following their rules, write-ups and disciplinary actions are in play before a final decision is made. Affected employees are long-aware that their days may be numbered; quite possibly due to performance issues, attendance problems and workplace rule violations. An immediate termination may occur with out advance notification when their has been a data breach, a breach in confidentiality or in some other litigious matter.

How you address which reason is important. Staying positive right now is essential and being prepared with a concise (rehearsed but fluid) explanation – with a closing that explains what you’ve learned from it. Remember, your resume has been selected as a possible fit and you are being interviewed for a job. You’ve gotten this far.

Don’t place blame on others. Instead – take responsibility for your own actions/behaviors and share what you’ve learned from the experience while being respectful of the company’s decision and processes.

Be forthcoming without providing too much detail. You don’t want this part of the interview process to be the longest part. You want to move forward. Be thoughtful but firm in your response to this line of questioning.

If you have personal experience and not sure how to answer this question in your next interview, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help.

Referenced article: From the Business Insider