When you are discussing your past work experience with an interviewer, you may be asked to explain whether you have ever been terminated or asked to resign.
An interviewer typically will use your response to assess what type of issues may arise if the company hires you. Just as importantly, your interviewer may judge your ability to take responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes based on how you answer this question.
Points to Emphasize
To turn this difficult question to your advantage, make sure to work the following information into your answer:
- Show that you take responsibility by acknowledging any personal actions or mistakes that contributed to the situation.
- Tell the interviewer what you learned and how you used the experience to become a better worker.
- Provide evidence of the steps that you have taken to address any personal habits or traits that contributed to you being let go.
- Explain what measures you employ now to ensure that you do not face similar issues with a new employer.
Try to give your interviewer enough information to understand the situation, but don’t dwell on this question for too long.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Correctly answering a question about your past mistakes or failures can be challenging. Make sure to avoid the following traps when explaining what happened:
- Do not attempt to hide a past termination or lie about the circumstances surrounding it.
- Try not to exhibit a negative or bitter attitude toward what happened.
- Do not deny your role or responsibility in the incident.
- Avoid acting like you were the wronged party and would take the same actions again in the future.
Even if you believe that what happened was unmerited, it’s best to show a mature and responsible attitude when discussing this subject during an interview.
A strong answer to a question about a past firing or termination could sound like this:
I was let go because one aspect of the job wasn’t a strong fit for me. My managers were highly satisfied with my customer service and technical support skills, but I did not consistently meet the monthly sales goals. I am now shifting my attention to jobs that focus on ensuring the satisfaction of existing customers. These positions offer a better fit for my listening and communication skills.
This question may be one of the most dreaded interview topics, but it can also give you an opportunity to explain past stumbles in a positive light and show why you are the right fit for the new job.