Answers to ‘Why Did You Get Fired?’ Interview Question

3 min read
Millennial man seated in the middle of the couch to answer a dreaded interview question

In every corner of the world, there are applicants who are hired and employees that are fired. Right about now, someone just received a call ordering him/her to start with the company by tomorrow. Unfortunately, someone else got the boot. If you are this person, how do you think you should answer the interview question, “why did you get fired?”

The Career Cycle

The highs and lows of working for a company go by, and it is very hard, especially to a fired employee to get back on track with his/her career. Fired employees find new, unprecedented challenges in finding a new job and give their careers either a facelift or a complete makeover.

Luckily, there are countless job opportunities waiting for fired employees. Whenever an employee is fired, it does not necessarily mean that he/she is inefficient or lazy. Companies make a hard decision like cost-cutting to save on money and resources. Manpower is reduced and even the talented and skilled employees are not safe from such hard-hitting career bombs.

Hiring managers and interviewers know that “getting fired” is not an indicator of ineffectiveness in the workplace. Sometimes, there are reasons beyond performance that define the sad labor tradition of sending a farewell note to the person who is about to be discharged.

Fired employees are given the chance to explain themselves on interviews. Moreover, the explanation must not harbor hatred or unethical cries for employment justice. So the next time you got fired, provided that your reasons are within legal and ethical bounds, know how to conquer this dreaded interview question.

Possible Answers to the Interview Question: “Why Did You Get Fired?” 

Here are a few answers, which the fired employee can use to reply to the question, “Why Did You Get Fired?”

  • The company had to make the hard choice of reducing workforce due to its incapacity to meet its quarterly objectives.

I was one of the few employees discharged by the company, and I do not blame them for that. They are currently looking for new applicants to fill in the job positions my co-workers and I vacated. My options remain intact and I am ready to take on opportunities regarding my chosen career path.

This response to the interview question shows tact and professionalism, without sacrificing your dignity.

  • My previous manager and I never got along on several occasions.

We sometimes get into closed-door arguments and fight over decisions made by him/her and his/her micro-managers. We both reached our boiling points and he/she decided to terminate me as soon as possible. I am a professionally vocal employee, and my previous boss did not want to embrace democracy inside the office.

If you decide to answer the interview question with this response, you need to be careful not to sound as if you’re holding a grudge. Explain it as a statement of fact.

  •  There was no more room for growth with my previous employer.

I wanted a change of environment. My career was in a stalemate and if I continue working there, I will have suffered severe employment issues. The reason they fired me is because of my poor, sluggish performance. I was not the same employee I were three years ago prior to my employment. I needed a change of pace and the job that I am applying for dictates just that.

When you go for this answer to the dreaded interview question, make sure you could prove that you have been a stellar employee. You can back up your claims with mentions of achievements you had before you were fired.

Whenever interviewers ask you that interview question, do not be afraid and tell the truth. Nobody wants a liar. If you were laid off, tell the interviewer the reason. They, for certain, will understand.

Zach Smith is an editorial consultant for a human resources magazine.

Image Source: Lee Weng Unsplash

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