There can be several different tricky topics to discuss during a job interview but the one that seems to top them all is addressing being fired from a previous job. As stressful as it is to be fired, the new challenge comes with explaining to your potential employer why they should consider your candidacy when you’ve previously been terminated.
Getting fired might derail your career for a bit but it won’t stall it forever. According to Inc. and the authors of “The CEO Next Door,” out of the executives they surveyed who had been fired, “an incredible 91 percent ended up finding a new position that was as good or better than their last.”
Good news: it’s not the end of the world and it is possible to recover. The bad news: it’s still a big obstacle to overcome. We’ve caught up with ForceBrands’ Senior Director of Executive Recruitment Adina Rothfeld to get her insights on the topic. Read on to learn expert tips on how to talk about one of the most challenging career situations.
If it is not your recent job, you have an advantage
Rothfeld says that being fired from a job way down your career line isn’t as damaging. If you’ve had some grand learning from being fired, you should be able to tactfully communicate that: what went wrong, what you learned, and what you’ve done differently since your last job.
Take a break
If it is your most recent job and if your financial situation allows, then taking a break from work and taking a class or a workshop could be beneficial. For example, if you were lacking a skill or were fired because your skillset didn’t align with that particular position, taking a course to gain or improve that skill could redeem you in the eyes of the potential employer.
Be honest and take full responsibility
“The best thing to do if it is performance-based is to assess what the expectations were in that job, your skillset or what didn’t align, and then how to move forward in a way that makes the most sense,” Rothfeld says. Perhaps you negotiated a salary that was too high, so the expectations were unrealistic for your skillset, or you were in a senior position but need to be at an associate level. Maybe you have great negotiating skills but you didn’t have enough experience for the seniority of the position. Admit your mistakes and take ownership of your past experience without trying to place blame on outside factors, the work environment, etc. According to Inc., “In cases where getting fired stemmed from a mismatch of skills and requirements at a given company or simple lack of results, the prognosis looks downright sunny.”
“The biggest thing is, even if you were fired based on performance, if you’re able to provide a reference from your manager that you always tried hard, did everything that you could, and just didn’t make the cut, that would still go a long way with a future employer,” Rothfeld says.
Consider a career pivot
It can be less challenging to talk about being fired if you are applying for a position in a different field or a different type of position. You can explain that your skillset or your experience didn’t quite match with the profile of that field or the type of position.
Not all potential employers will be excited about you being fired but, according to Inc., there are companies that are more understanding than others. It is especially true if you come from a well-established company and an extremely fast-paced work environment that is known to quickly terminate employees who don’t make the cut.
Work with a recruiter
If there is one situation when you should strongly consider working with a recruiter, it is if you have been fired from your previous job. Recruiters can help you navigate the uncharted waters and suggest the best narrative for your situation. “A huge benefit of working with a recruiter is that you can be as open and honest with us, and, knowing our client, we can help curate the experiences that you need to share and the experiences that are going to be less important to share,” Rothfeld says.
Interested in working with an Executive Recruiter who can help walk you through the interview process? Reach out here to work with one of our professionals.