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What to Say When You’ve Been Fired

By Linda Matias

Jobseekers often ask, “I’ve been fired. What should I say during the interview?” To which I respond, “Tell the truth.”

Unless you are pathological, chances are you are a bad liar and hiring managers sense when candidates are less than honest. They’ve conducted too many interviews not to pick up on the nuances. Such as interviewees avoiding eye contact, limiting facial expressions, and touching their throat when they are speaking.  Decision makers may not point fingers during the interview, but rest assured if you aren’t receiving job offers and you are being deceitful during interviews, then hiring managers are on to you.

It’s not easy to admit when you are wrong. Especially in an interview when hiring managers expect near perfect candidates. But that’s exactly what you need to do in order to move past a negative job experience. The first time you own up to your mistake, you may fluster. After a while, you will become more comfortable with your “story.” So don’t be afraid of a hiccup now and again. Those missteps will only make your future interview performances stronger.

In order to be successful, you have to find a balance between honesty and providing too much information. The process is simple: own up to what you did, keep your admission short, and move the conversation to your qualifications. Here’s a sample answer to the question, “Why were you fired?”

“I took a job that didn’t fit my experience. It’s a mistake I’ll never make again. I’m only applying for positions where my experience strongly aligns with the requirements in the job description. That is one of the reasons I was drawn to the (name  position) within your organization. Based on the information provided, I have the hands on knowledge (name the specific knowledge here) to achieve performance goals.”

As you can see from the above response, the majority of the statement focuses on the open position and what the candidate can do for the hiring organization. Use that formula as a model when crafting your own response. Good luck!

Linda Matias is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer who heads resume service. You can reach her at to request a resume quote. You can also visit her website at

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