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No two ways about it: getting fired is going to make for an awkward moment at your next job interview. Because some employers aren’t going to chance it with a supposed red-flagged employee, massive online recruiting campaigns could skip right over your resume if you indicate you were fired. If you’re invited to an interview, though, this is positive encouragement that a potential employer feels that you’re worth talking with. Be honest about the situation and what you’ve learned from the experience; the right employer will decide that you’re worth the risk.
Never Lie About Being Fired
Don’t try to skim over being fired during a job interview. If you lie and you’re found out, this will eliminate you from most hiring processes. Additionally, rehearse your response ahead of time in order to avoid an awkward silence, which employers might misread as guilt or apprehension. If you appear honest, admitting culpability when necessary, employers might be willing to take a second look at your situation. In the same vein, avoid painting your previous employer as a villainous, inept buffoon who did not recognize your obvious qualities. Employers assume that you had something to do with the firing, regardless of whether it was fully justified. Badmouthing previous employers signals that you might be willing to badmouth your current employer in the future.
Cite Professional Differences
One way to handle being fired in your next job interview is to isolate the primary cause of discord, which likely boils down to professional differences, according to The Huffington Post. Perhaps you felt that an aggressive marketing approach to attract new clients was the top priority for your department based on focus group results and data tracking over the course of several months. One of your managers might have wanted to abandon new-client outreach in favor of tailoring more precisely to current client needs. Rather than take a balanced approach involving both strategies, you were fired. Explaining the situation in several succinct, polished phrases could help a prospective employer see that it was professional differences, not lack of professionalism, that led to termination.
Lessons Learned, Future Outlook
After efficiently detailing the firing scenario, smoothly transition into the key lessons that you learned from the experience. This demonstrates that you’re reflective and can assume responsibility for having made mistakes. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, but it’s fine to state that you might have done things differently, given what you now understand about relationship-building or the current economic climate in your field. Point out how these lessons will make you a better employee in the future in terms of communication, delegation, accountability or whatever skill you feel was developed after being fired, according to "U.S. News and World Report."
Although you may have been fired, you might have years of positive, successful job experience behind you. Point out that you have always received strong performance reviews – if this is true – and frame the event within the larger context of your professional reputation and qualifications. If possible, contact your previous hiring manager to mend old fences and ask whether she might be able to offer some positive comments if called by a prospective employer.
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Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.
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