You’re Fired. Now What?

Dear DW,
I was let go from my last job. How do I handle this in job interviews?
Signed, Moving On

Dear Moving On,
If it’s any consolation, this happens to a lot of people. So the fact that you were let go need not be a deal breaker for a prospective employer.

That said, it’s important for you to be completely clear about what happened and comfortable with what you say about it, says Alison Green, who writes the Ask a Manager blog and is author of Managing to Change the World.

Think through what occurred and how you might have been at least partly responsible. Then find a way to show what you learned and to make clear that you won’t let something similar happen again. For instance, you might say something like “The job relied a lot on presentation skills, and mine weren’t as strong as they should have been. I’ve realized that I’m more comfortable working one-on-one or in small groups, which is why I think I’d be a good fit for this position.”

Keep your response short, and practice until you can deliver it smoothly and calmly. Remember that everybody makes mistakes. Both what you say and how you say it will tell the interviewer a lot about qualities important for any job: how you handle problems, learn from past mistakes, and size up your own strengths and weaknesses.

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