“What if you were fired?”

Dear Andrea:

What is the best way to address being fired from my job when I’m in an interview for a new one? A new supervisor at my last job thought I was making too much money and made things bad for me and fired me. I don’t want to sound negative about my former employer, but I need to explain. I try and say “personality conflict” but they want me to explain. When I do, I can see in their faces that they’ve already decided they don’t want to hire me. I’m frustrated that employers may see me as a problem employee which is far from the truth. What do I do?

Dear A.C.:

Many people have lost their jobs due to personality conflict or the improper handling of a situation. It not only feels like you’ve been treated wrongly, but the circumstances make it difficult to explain without sounding like sour grapes in the interview. So you must respond with artfully chosen, non-emotional words.
You need a short explanation without getting into the gory details. Something like:
“I worked for the Ginger Snap Company for five years. I was very loyal, successful, had good performance reviews and got along well with everyone. I had every reason to believe I was in good standing. A new supervisor took over and was not comfortable with my work for some reason. I was never given an explanation. And I was not given a chance to defend myself.”
Stay away from the word “fired”–it’s too emotional. Instead refer to what happened as “a set of circumstances that led to my leaving.”
Most interviewers will understand if you explain without accusing or whining and handle your response with sincerity. After you give your explanation, move the conversation on to the future and what you’d like to contribute to the new company: “What happened was unfortunate and I’m disappointed. But now I’d like to focus on finding the right company for my skills and experience.”

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Talking about workin’ for a living with WGRR hosts Janeen Coyle and Chris O’Brien.