How to Answer the “Why were you fired?” Question

“Why were you fired?” is about the most difficult question you could ever be asked in an interview. However, dismissal is a fact of office life and if it happens to you then it isn’t to be feared. Being honest and open with your interviewer about how you were dismissed can play huge dividends and show you as a mature and responsible person.

By Jonathan Walker

There will always be circumstances in which an employer has to fire one of his or her people. This is a fact of life and there is nothing wrong with facing such a truth.

The natural thing to do after being fired is to get another job. But, during a job interview, comes the dreaded question, “Why were you fired?” Interviewers ask this question to discover your problem areas and the ways in which you are most fragile.

How do you answer this question? Well, you simply have to be truthful about it. If you have a circumstantial story that explains the reason why you are fired, try to tell your story as objectively as you can. When narrating, make it sound that you have genuinely learned from whatever experience that you had.

Answering the Dreaded Question
To help during your job interview, here are some things to keep in mind when answering the dreaded question.

1. Do not say bad things about your former employer.
If you do, this will only show that you are a whiner. You would definitely give your interviewer a bad impression if you badmouth your ex-boss. They may get the idea that you are not a team player or have adjustment issues.

2. Do not blame it on anyone, especially office politics.
Office politics is a reality that everyone should face and adjust to. Even if you were in a situation where dirty office politics exist, you should rise above it and deal with the situation positively.

3. Be honest and do not keep anything hidden.
If there is one personal reason why you were fired, let your interviewer know about it. Accepting what happened in your previous workplace and being honest and open about it makes you a mature person. Let your interviewer know that you have learned a great deal from your previous experience and you are more than willing to move on and improve your career.

4. Don’t blame incompatibility with your boss and colleagues.
If you were a good employee, you should have found ways to befriend your colleagues and boss. Being nice to everyone, no matter what their office rank may be, helps you handle difficult situations. Employees who get fired because of their incompatibility with the rest of the working team only prove that they are immature and have social issues.

5. Lies do not have any place in an interview conversation.
Making up stories only complicates things and you end up being confused yourself. First of all, most employers do employ background checks on their new employees. So, no need to lie at all; you would end up telling the truth anyway.

Answering the dreaded question, “Why were you fired?” is one of the trickiest things to do. However, you should be able to answer it well. There are only two things that can happen here. If you handle the question well, you will come out as a responsible and mature worker – thus giving you the chance to get the job that you want. If not, it may cause you to lose your future job.

Jonathan Walker works for

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