QUESTION: I recently got fired from my last job; how do I explain this in an interview?

Kate Williamson, Scientech Resumes

Keep your answer short, honest, and to the point. Tailor your response to fit your circumstances and how your termination was handled. Don’t give a lengthy explanation or details behind why you were fired. Simply state the reason and move the conversation forward to a different topic. DO NOT LIE. Your previous employer can disclose this information during a reference check.

Lisa Parker, Parker - CPRW

The best way to handle this situation is to own it. Coming to terms with the incident will help overcome shame, guilt, or regret and build confidence, and enable you to discuss the matter in a positive manner. It may also help to address the situation as a professional learning experience, something that will transcend to the interviewer as a valuable trait in a candidate.

Robin Schlinger, Robin's Resumes

Prepare and use factual answers that explain the situation succinctly. Include what you have learned, how it will not happen in the future, and how you are a fit for the job you are interviewing for. Don’t over-explain and don’t blame your boss or the old company. Share only as much as you are comfortable with and what the new organization will find out about during their background check of you.

Rebecca McCarthy, The Written Coach

Acknowledge the firing, but explain it BRIEFLY–no need to go into drawn-out details or get emotional. You can say, “I outlasted several rounds of lay-offs, but unfortunately the last round included me. It was tough to handle at first, but in reflection, I learned so much from that experience. I’d like the chance to prove I’ve grown, and I’d consider this opportunity a fresh new start.”

Angela Watts, MyPro Resumes

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is currently a highly sought employee attribute. You can demonstrate high EI by talking about what you learned from being fired. An employer will most want to know: 1) that this is not a pattern in your employment history, 2) that you used the experience to learn and improve and 3) that you are honest. Cover these points to make a negative experience a positive outcome.

Tammy Shoup, Breakthrough Resume Writing Service

Be honest and make sure your answer is to the point. It’s easy to let negative emotions enter into the conversation so practice, practice, practice your response. You will want to frame the experience in the most positive light possible (an error you’ve learned from) and then steer the conversation toward the strengths you bring to the table.

Nelly Grinfield, Top of the Stack Resume

Calmly, truthfully, and very briefly describe the situation, making sure not to bash your former employer. Talk about the fact that your goals and the company’s goals were not aligned, and you are now looking for a perfect fit for your skills and talents. Craft a statement that ends on a positive note, for example, what you learned from that experience, and what you are looking forward to next.

Paula Christensen, Strategic Career Coaches

Briefly admit your mistake and explain how you have grown from this challenge. If applicable, give some scope around your termination. Not sugar coating your termination gives you authenticity and helps you connect with your interviewer who has gone through their own life challenges. After your short explanation, explain why you are excited about this position and how you are uniquely qualified.

Ashley Watkins, Write Step Resumes, LLC

Tell the truth. There’s no need to give all of the gory details. Just explain your story and quickly shift the conversation back into a positive direction. Focus on what you’ve done to prevent recurring behavior and how your skills/expertise solve the employer’s immediate problem. Practice your response until you’re comfortable. Provide references that can vouch for your stellar performance.

Ask a Question

Ask us your question and it may be selected as the topic of our next blog post, with answers compiled from the advice of NRWA members.

7 + 3 =

Work with the Best

Find a Resume Expert

If you’re looking for more information on how to write a great resume – or get an expert to help you with yours – you’ve come to the right place! This site was created by the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA), a US-based non-profit association with members from around the world who are dedicated to learning about and providing expertise in resume writing to all job seekers.

The National Résumé Writers’ Association

9 Newport Drive #200, Forest Hill, MD 21050

Thanks for checking out!

For more on our association and certification, see

Member Services: 1.877.THE.NRWA or [email protected]

Copyright © 2018 The National Résumé Writers’ Association