If you are reading this post, there is a good chance that you regularly dread this interview question more than any other. Unfortunately, dreading a question doesn’t make it less likely to be asked.
Today, interview questions come from a predetermined list that will be asked of every candidate .
That’s intended to make the process fair and objective and the answers more comparable.
Buy for the unprepared, the “Were You Ever Fired” interview question is unsettling. Your facial expression alone, and your body language, may reveal much more than you’d prefer.
It Matters WHEN the Question is asked
If you’re asked “have you ever been fired” in a pre-screening telephone interview, a brief response is likely best. If you were fired long ago, a brief context and lessons you learned will ease their concern.
If , in the worst case, you were fired from your most recent position, you’ll want to have a more complete response that can be offered whenever the question is asked.
Plan in advance what you will say and why
When you are not rattled by this question, it conveys your perspective on the past experience.
Framing a dismissal in a positive light is OK. Lying can get you fired later, and that would be twice in a row.
Claiming you were an innocent victim of some conspiracy, even if you are certain that was true, won’t help. You surely accept some responsibility, don’t you?
Character defects tend not go away. Can you frame it as a learning opportunity, emphasizing the lessons you learned from the experience? There are many lessons to be gained from being let go. Later in your career, you will undoubtedly look back and see every experience more objectively.
Possible Lessons Gained from Being Fired:
- Insist on timely, honest feedback on your performance if scheduled reviews aren’t frequent.
- Understand your boss’s temperament and what frustrates them.
- Understand how colleagues are evaluated and rewarded and how your actions impact their job performance.
- Confirm your understanding of your manager’s priorities. Don’t guess.
Keys to the Were You Ever Fired Interview Question
- If you are still angry or resentful, don’t bring it to the interview!
- If adjustments were warranted, what have you done differently since?
- Taking a relevant course, even watching YouTube videos on working with difficult people, can show a constructive response
- Don’t elaborate. Say it simply, “talking it over with my mentor helped me learn from a difficult and disappointing experience.”
- ideally, you could quote a recent positive performance review in the same area that tripped you up earlier.
What if you have never been fired?
if you were are fortunate enough to never have been fired, don’t just say no. Show how learning from feedback has helped to stay in good terms with every employer. Give them something to write on the paper. You don’t want it left blank.
Check out this presentation on Slideshare with more advice on preparing for the were you ever fired interview question.
This is the tenth in a series of fifty posts, each one providing advice on preparing for a different job interview questions. See the entire list of 50 job interview questions.