Many people have had the experience of being fired. Hopefully, it was a long time ago, like mine. But maybe it was your last job and, as you’re interviewing for a new one, you are asked “Why did you leave your last job?”

What on earth do you say?

I decided to ask our Recruiters what advice they would give talent in this situation:

  • Carol Conforti says to treat it as a learning experience: “Clients don’t expect candidates to have not had challenges. The best way to handle it is to take responsibility and talk about what you learned from the experience. You have made mistakes that you will never make again. Also if you had it all to do again, how you would handle it differently.”
  • Laura Burns warns job seekers not to make a classic interview mistake: “Regardless of how it ended, never ever talk bad about another company you worked for as it indicates a lack of professionalism and potential employers might fear you might do the same about their company. Best thing to do is indicate it was not a good fit or the right match.”
  • Maggie Grant gives a similar warning: ”Never say anything negative! Keep answers neutral and honest. Something like “It was time to part ways” or “we had an amicable departure” is always good.
  • Jamie Grossman has other cautions: “I would recommend that you connect with the HR dept of the previous [company] to find out how they are classifying the termination, since it needs to match what you say in a background check. Companies are often conducting these and checking employment history / references without candidates’ knowledge, so it’s vital that this information aligns. Most companies will not include negative information, since it opens them up for liability and generally will only confirm dates of employment and whether or not a candidate is eligible for rehire.”

I’m glad my one termination is long ago and far away! But if you have been fired recently enough that you know you will be asked about it, our best advice is – Be Prepared!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative