How to tackle a job interview after being fired

September 12, 2018

How to tackle a job interview after being fired

I got fired for inconsistencies; however, the work environment was terrible, and my supervisor wouldn’t even talk to me. I lasted for two and a half years but was looking for a new job on and off the entire time, thinking it has got to get better and it never did.  I went to the doctors 3 times for stress, developed insomnia and saw a counselor

The job I interviewed for matches all my abilities, but they shut down the 2nd interview after learning I was fired.

How on earth do I get over this?

Have you ever spilled spaghetti sauce on your shirt during lunch and still had to go back to work? Did you say to your co-workers, “Oh my word, I can’t believe I spilled sauce on myself!” Or did you try to hide, hold folders over your chest, or put on a sweater even though it’s warm? I’m guessing you did the former.

It was a mistake, and by drawing attention to it yourself, you don’t have to worry that people are talking about you behind your back, or trying to guess why you’re behaving strangely.

You need to attack your job hunt in the same way. Because you were in this position for so long, you absolutely have to address it because they will find out that you were fired and it won’t go over well. But, if you bring it up yourself, you’re going to have more luck.

Bringing it up yourself is scary–it’s easier to hope that they don’t find out you were fired. But they will so let’s frame this. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Admit you were fired
  • Explain why you got fired.
  • Say what you learned from the experience
  • Explain why it won’t happen again.

“I had a rocky relationship with my supervisor, and so while I worked hard and hoped it would get better, it simply did not. It affected my performance, and she fired me. In retrospect, I should have begun searching for a new job earlier, but I wanted to do my best and give it my all. To prevent that from happening again, I’m only looking at opportunities where I feel I can have a good relationship with my supervisor.”


“Unfortunately, I had some performance issues in my last job, and they let me go. I found out through this experience that X is not my strongest skill, and that I thrive under a manager who can do Y. I am really interested in this job because Z is my strongest skill and that seems to be a central part of this job.”

Now, of course, there will be plenty of people that don’t want to hire you because you don’t have a perfect work history. That’s just life. (It’s also dumb on their part, but we can’t fix all the stupid in the world.) But, by being up front, there’s no mystery.

And one more thing: references. You need good ones. Ideally, if there is someone from your previous job who could serve as a reference, this would be great. This can be a manager from another department who saw your work, a manager who left the company, or (if you can’t get a manager), a peer.

You need to know precisely what your former supervisor will say and what the HR department will say. It’s easy enough to call up HR and ask. Most likely they will say “we only confirm dates of service and title.” Your former manager may be difficult to pin down. You can hire a professional reference checking firm to call her and get a reference for you. That way you at least know what she’s going to say. If your separation agreement detailed what she could and could not say (and many do), then you’ll see if she’s violating the agreement.

Many, many people (including me!) have been fired from jobs. It’s always harder to land the next post, but you can do it. Be positive, focus on what you learned, and be grateful you’re out of that horrible situation.

About Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. You can follow her on Twitter @RealEvilHRLady, or read her blog, Evil HR Lady.

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