These two words are probably the most dreaded and hardest of things to hear or experience during your career. (Unless you have been lucky enough to never have been, then congratulations and well done Saint Whoever).
Good news: Being fired doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it just means that circumstance, or not so good choices were made and you had to face the consequences of such.
Unfortunately though, if you have been fired, you know full well that it can be quite devastating and such a knock to ones self-esteem, no matter the reason. True enough, being fired can make one feel as if you committed a major felony no matter how trivial the reason. Even harder yet is explaining the reason to a future employer, whether on an application or during an interview. On this note, getting fired can happen to ANYONE, as a friend of recently learned.
Sarah worked for a large corporation for a few years. Hard worker, loyal and dependable, wore many hats and was able to take on any task given to her. During a time of enormous downsizing, something awful happened. One day Sarah forgot to clock out from lunch. On the following day she was called into the human resources manager’s office; in a matter of minutes, she was terminated. Sarah was told that she “stole time” from the company. This was what one could say, a definite “wow” moment for her.
Feeling stunned, devastated and hurt, she couldn’t believe that after all she had done for the employer they would do such a thing for something so petty. Had she been a repeat offender then it would be understandable for their reasoning but this was not the case as the consequence of her action seemed quite harsh.
Reality check: It DOES happen, proving once again that we are all expendable.
After this incident she brushed herself off and searched for another job. In the following interviews Sarah explained briefly what had happened to her, was honest and remained pleasant and upbeat.
Silver Lining: Sarah remained positive and was employed quite quickly and is happier now than she was before.
If fired, how does one go about tackling this dreaded question? Of course like my dear friend, be honest but be tactful. Everyone makes mistakes, even the best of the best have faltered along the way, knocking their halo a little off kilter.
One of the best ways to handle this question during an interview is to not be too detailed or defensive. Keep your response to the point, positive, and then move on with the rest of the interview. Though it may be difficult, do not be negative. More often than not, the interviewer is looking at how you answer the question as opposed to why it happened, meaning your tone and attitude about the situation. If there is a brief moment of silence, take the lead and subtly segue by asking a question of your own at this point.
To help you along the way, prepare yourself now by answering the following questions:
- How…did you handle the situation after being fired?
- How have you learned from it so as to not make the same mistake again?
- How can you persuade your future employer to trust that you won’t make the same mistake again?
- Did the experience prompt you into changing your career entirely?
No matter how hurtful the experience is to ones ego, often it is an opportunity presented to us that a career change may be for the best and more advantageous in the long run. Looking back, think to yourself, were you really truly happy in that position? As the saying goes, “One door closes, another door opens.”
One more thing, there are many other ways of saying you were “fired” without saying the dreaded “fired” word. For example, “let go” or there was economic downsizing in the company and you were one of the ones downsized. Or that you were laid off and then pursued other opportunities.
Don’t beat yourself up because of what has happened no matter how angry or upset you are. Take this opportunity to start looking for another job, one that is more than likely going to be everything that you ever wanted, never stop striving for what you want in a job.
The sky’s the limit, so reach for the stars and shine on.
Wishing you nothing but the best,