The 'Why Were You Fired?' Job Interview Question

Top 11 Best Answers to Explain Why You Were Fired

Businesswomen are meeting and interviewing in the company office
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Have you been fired from your job? Don't know what to say about it in an interview? What's the best way to respond to the inevitable question of why you were fired?

Being asked about why you were terminated is among the most challenging to answer. It's uncomfortable to talk about losing your job under any circumstances, and it's even harder when you're trying to explain it to someone you are hoping will hire you.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Being Fired

The best strategy is to keep your answer short and to the point. There is no need to give a lengthy explanation or too many details about what transpired. It's better to state the reason, then try to move the conversation forward to another topic.

If you're tempted to give a different reason than being fired for leaving your job, know that your previous employer during a reference check. Remember too, that being dishonest during the application process can result in not getting a job offer, , or being fired should your deception be discovered.

You'll need to tailor your response to fit your own circumstances and how your was handled, but these examples of answers will give you a starting point for framing your response.

Best Answers

Career expert and author Joyce Lain Kennedy shares her 12 best job interview answers to the question "Why were you fired?":

  • Being cut loose was a blessing in disguise. Now I have an opportunity to explore jobs that better suit my qualifications and interests. My research suggests that such an opportunity may be the one on your table. Would you like to hear more about my skills in working with new technology?​
  • Although circumstances caused me to leave my first job, I was very successful in school and got along well with both students and faculty. Perhaps I didn't fully understand my boss's expectations or why he released me so quickly before I had a chance to prove myself.
  • The job wasn't working out, so my boss and I agreed that it was time for me to move on to a position that would show a better return for both of us. So here I am, ready to work.
  • After thinking about why I left, I realize I should have done some things differently. That job was a learning experience, and I think I'm wiser now. I'd like the chance to prove that to you.
  • A new manager came in and cleaned house in order to bring in members of his old team. That was his right, but it cleared my head to envision better opportunities elsewhere.
  • Certain personal problems, which I now have solved, unfortunately, upset my work life. These problems no longer exist, and I'm up and running strong to exceed expectations in my new job.
  • I wanted my career to move in a different direction, and I guess my mental separation set up the conditions that led to my departure. But by contrast, the opportunity we're discussing seems to be made for me and I hope to eventually grow into a position of responsibility.
  • I usually hit it off very well with my bosses, but this case was the exception that proved my rule of good relationships. We just didn't get on well. I'm not sure why.
  • My job was outsourced to India. That's too bad because people familiar with my work say it is superior and fairly priced.
  • I outlasted several downsizings but the last one included me. Sign of the times, I guess.
  • I was desperate for work and took the wrong job without looking around the corner. I won't make that mistake again. I'd prefer an environment that is congenial, structured and team-oriented, where my best talents can shine and make a substantial contribution.

Practice Your Response

Kennedy also says, "Practice in advance what you'll say. Then keep it brief, keep it honest and keep it moving." That way, you'll get past the sticky issue of getting fired and can move on to and .

Review more tips on how to answer , so you can answer confidently and then return the focus to what makes you the best candidate for the job at hand.