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Interview Question “Why Were You Fired?”

Why Were You Fired?

If you have ever terminated your employment, you should be able to explain the situation to potential future employers. While this question “Why were you fired?” may be uncomfortable to answer, you can do so in a way that demonstrates your professionalism and integrity.

Why were you fired?


Evaluating different types of responses can help you prepare one that best suits your situation.

In this article, we discuss why employers ask this question and how you should respond.

Some other forms of the question

There are many formulas for the question “Why were you fired?”, depending on the interviewer who asks, including:

  • Why were you fired?
  • What is the reason for your dismissal?
  • What did you do to get fired?

Why does the interviewer ask you this question?


To know what is the specific reason for your dismissal because the term “fired” is a legal word that means that your job was terminated because you did something inappropriate that the employer decided that it falls into one of the following categories:

  • Serious misconduct such as theft, assault, and dishonesty.
  • Habitual neglect of duty or misconduct even after you have been warned and assisted.
  • Behavior inconsistent with the employee's duties including competing with the employer or excessive time wasting at work.
  • Willful disobedience to the order of the employer.

How to prepare for the answer


First, don't panic and don't be embarrassed by the question “Why were you fired?” People get fired every day.

These people keep looking for new jobs, and you'll find another one as well. Therefore, do not pressure yourself or doubt that you will not get a job after being fired.

Remember all the good you have accomplished in your career. Here are some preparations for the answer:

  • Without hesitation, briefly explain what happened.
  • Deal with your feelings before you set foot in the interview.
  • Discuss what you learned, then return to the topic.
  • Never, ever bad-mouth your boss or company.
  • Summarize what you have to offer, state your interest.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • Leave the feelings out.
  • Show that you have learned.
  • Learn about your previous employer's policies.
  • Show that you have learned from the experience.
  • Don't put pressure on yourself or adopt the no-one's going to hire me mentality because you were fired.
  • The main thing to remember is that no matter how bad the situation is, never say something blatantly negative about your employer.

Examples of answering the question


Some of the answers you can provide for specific situations include:

When I was originally hired as customer service, the job description and expectations were very different from the job I actually ended up doing. It was clear from the start that there were some communication problems and philosophical differences, and I struggled early on. My supervisor and I realized that wasn't right for either of us, and luckily it was an amicable departure. Since then, I've done some volunteer work, articulated my career goals and expectations, and worked to improve my communication skills.

I am able to work independently with little supervision, and I work best in an environment when I understand what the expectations are. Even if the routine changes, if you tell me what to do differently, I'm happy to stick with it. The nature of the work I was doing in my last position did not match my strengths. There was very little guidance from the supervisor, the tasks were not well explained, and the place seemed to be in flux. So it didn't go well. What I learned from that experience is trying to ask more questions, clarifying requirements and expectations, making sure things are in writing, and trying to make sure I have the information I need to do a good job.

I work better in a team environment, and I'm used to being in an environment where everyone supports and encourages each other. “I realized very quickly after I started working with my last employer that there is a great deal of internal conflict within the organization and a high rate of turnover. I did the best I could in this situation and many employees praised my work ethic and skills, But in the end, it was very difficult to beat the environment.

I wanted to try sales because I feel it really fit my personality. I'm an open person and I can easily start conversations and make connections with people, and I've never met a stranger. This is a very competitive industry and my business and I have underestimated the amount of support I will need. It took a little longer than expected to build momentum and generate leads, and I wasn't able to make up for the inability to get off to such a slow start. I received some great sales training and advice, learned a lot of good strategies, and I am grateful for that experience. However, my boss and I realized that I would be able to perform better in a different type of sales or business development structure.

See: Interview Question “Are You Willing to Relocate?”

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