Uh-oh. The interviewer asks the question you wanted him/her to forget. Now what? The good news: interviewers take each individual situation into account and won’t rule out a hiring decision based on being let go from a past role. The bad news: if you are unprepared for this question, you could dig yourself into a hole. Here are some tips to handle this tricky situation with ease:

  • Be honest, but not a whiner– Bad-mouthing a previous boss will make you look bad. Instead, be honest about the past situation. If the culture didn’t fit with what you are looking for, say it. Take responsibility for past actions, but always let the hiring manager know that you are ready to move on to a new opportunity.
  • A Lesson to Learn– If you were forced to part ways with a previous employer, it’s likely that there was a lesson to be learned. Say what you would do differently in that situation and the skills you gained from the experience. If you could have done things differently, mention that you could and will improve.
  • Look forward to new opportunities– People often leave past jobs because they have no more room to grow in their role. If you left voluntarily for any reason, make sure the interviewer knows your reason when they ask about why you left.
  • Repair damaged relationships– If you couldn’t get along with a past boss and are currently job searching, do some damage control. Give the boss a call and mend the situation as best you can. Even though you may not want to work with that person again, it’s best to not burn bridges, especially since potential employers may be calling for a reference.

By following these steps interviewees can protect themselves from being caught off guard. If you know your answers and have solid reasons for your actions you will still have a great chance of landing your dream job.

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