Why did you leave your last company? Why did you get laid-off? Why did you get fired? These are questions most interviewees fear and most interviewers ask. Learning to traverse these difficult interview questions is important to every applicant’s survival.
Job Departures: Fired, Laid-Off, Quit
Be reassured. Many interviewers, employees and companies have experienced lay- offs, especially in today’s economic environment. Explain, “Because of the downward economy, the company decided to eliminate three departments, including mine.”
Lets face it—its impossible to shine a positive light on getting fired. In this sticky situation, it’s best to downplay the “fired” aspect where the reason you left is not detrimental. Be cautious, however, because there is a fine line between making fired sound like you got laid-off versus straight up lying. Be quick with your explanation and don’t get caught up in the story and/or the politics. Explain what you learned. Remember they will check your references, so if you don’t want them calling you old boss, don’t list him/her as a reference.
Some hiring managers believe that quitting your job before having another one lined up is irresponsible, regardless of the reason behind your decision. If the decision was not work related such as a long commute or the hours did not fit, those are acceptable reasons to disclose. If the reason goes beyond the surface such as you hated your boss or did not get along with your coworkers, spin the story to a positive one. Explain that you weren’t being challenged enough and that your former employer didn’t offer an alternative career choice. Mention that you are searching for the next step on your career ladder and how this position is an ideal next step.
Experiencing employment set backs is common. No matter what you decide to say, always be careful and be sure that you are not slandering a person or company or implying that they broke the law. This falls back to the rule that you should never bad mouth previous employers. Instead, stay detached and explain your reason matter-of-factly and move on to the next subject. Explaining them with professionalism and wisdom will differentiate you from the applicant pool.
As if job departures aren’t complicated enough, the usually go hand in hand with employment gaps. If you are in the midst of a job gap now, here are some tips to help you overcome some challenges when re-entering the workforce:
1. Consider partial employment: freelance work, part-time job, or job sharing.
2. Build your professional network (feed your network before you need it): join professional organizations, volunteer in the community, school or civic organizations.
3. Create a small business and provide exceptional services such as cooking, cleaning or care taking.
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5. Enhance your resume with meaningful content such as transitional employment, education enrichment, skill development and committee service.
6. Keep your resume updated on a six-month basis so that you don’t forget important accomplishments or skills you have mastered.
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