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Getting fired is a difficult situation. You're not just unemployed, but you might have to face potential employers who will likely ask why you left your last job. If you quit or were laid off, this question is easy to explain. Things get more complicated if you were fired. Regardless of whether you were at fault, it is best to be honest, because a reference check could reveal the truth.
Job Application Disclosure
You do not need to say you were fired in your resume or cover letter, as these documents are used to demonstrate your skills and qualifications. However, if a job application asks why you left your last job, state the truth. According to Optimum Solutions, use a more delicate term than “fired,” such as “let go” or “terminated,” when answering this question on the application form.
Pinpointing the Reason
The reason you were fired typically does not come into play until during the interview. If a hiring manager invites you to interview after seeing that you were let go on your application, she might want to hire you regardless. She may ask why you were fired to hear your side of things. If your employer did not give you a reason, consider what could have caused it. Reasons may include inability to get along with your co-workers, behavioral problems, difficult boss, poor job performance, wrongful termination or violation of company policy.
Conveying What Happened
Project yourself as a mature, positive and responsible person by keeping your response objective, factual and brief, no more than a few sentences. Start by saying what you loved about your job, and then say what caused it to end. If you were at fault, take responsibility, without pointing fingers or bad-mouthing others. Stay humble and avoid painting yourself as a pillar of perfection.
Examples of Interview Disclosure
You might say: “In my five years as a registered nurse, I always looked forward to going to work and caring for my patients. Two years ago, a new charge nurse was assigned to my unit. I tried to get along with her, but for some reason, we didn’t see eye to eye. I did what I could to make it work, but in the end, I was let go.” Another example: “During my three-month probationary period, I had a hard time learning the company’s administration software. I had never used such a complex system before, but I was willing to learn. I couldn’t keep up with the training requirements, and I was let go.”
Explain what the situation has taught you and anything you would have done differently. If you were fired because of unprofessional conduct, you might say, “I realize that getting angry at my peers because I am overworked hurts not only my professional relationships, but also the work environment.” Mention positive steps you are taking to improve yourself, such as classes or workshops. Then say you are ready to apply yourself with a new employer.
The Best Ways to Describe Firings on a Job Application→
How to Answer for Being Terminated During an Interview→
Better Wording Than "Fired" for a Job Application→
How to Ask For Your Job Back After Being Fired→
How to Remove Yourself From Consideration for a Job→
How to Apologize & Get Your Job Back After Being Let Go→
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.