January 2020 Question of the Month

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“How do I discuss a job termination in an interview?”

Being terminated from a job can be traumatic, and that trauma can be compounded by trying to explain what happened to a potential future employer.

When explaining why you were terminated from a job, be honest and stick with the facts. Never presume to know what anyone was thinking. Comments like, “My boss didn’t like me” are subjective and can make it seem like you aren’t taking responsibility for your actions. Instead, focus on what your boss explicitly told you. For example, “My boss told me I was being terminated because I was making too many errors.”

You need to acknowledge any mistakes or wrongdoing on your part and identify what you have learned and how you have changed. For example, “A lot was going on in my personal life at the time, and I acknowledge that it contributed in large part to why I was making so many errors. Looking back, I realize now I could have been more upfront with my supervisor and used resources available to employees rather than trying to handle everything by myself.”

If you are honest, and if you demonstrate the ability to acknowledge your mistakes and make corrections, a reasonable employer will impartially weigh your termination against your career accomplishments when deciding whether or not to hire you.

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