You’re Fired! So WHAT – How to Handle Getting Fired, Laid off, or Terminated

Transcript of video below:

If you were fired, terminated or laid off from your last job and now you’re interviewing and you’re trying to get a new job and you’re wondering how you’re going to explain why you were fired, I’m going to show you how to do it today.

There’s three simple steps I’m going to walk you through that are going to show you how to explain why you were fired, laid off or terminated and why it’s not an issue or why it shouldn’t be a concern for them.

So, the first thing you want to do is Accept Responsibility for what happened to you. Most people, when they go into an interview and they try to explain why they were fired, they’re always placing blame on the employer. They’re like, “Oh, they didn’t like me” or “It was too hard there” or “They were mean to me” “I was bullied” and some of these things may be true. But you know what? From an employer standpoint of view, it sounds like you’re whining, it sounds like you’re complaining and that’s not the kind of person that they want to hire.

So, it’s so important that you accept responsibility. This might be hard for you to swallow, because maybe it really wasn’t your fault. But if you look at it from your employer’s point of view, it was your fault and that’s why they fired you. So, you have to come to terms with that. You have to accept that you have to admit fault. Otherwise, you’re never going to be able to explain why you were let go so that it’s not an issue for a new employer; whether you were let go for performance reasons or a policy violation, whatever it was. You need to accept responsibility for your actions.

When you do this, this shows courage. This shows a prospective employer that you are willing to stand up and admit that you were wrong and you paid the price for it with your job and now you’re here looking for a new job.

When you take responsibility for what happened, this shows courage. And it also shows that you’re not trying to hide anything. When you admit that you were wrong and you were fired because of performance or policy or whatever it was, it’s hard for them to have any type of follow up questions about that. I mean, “Okay, he admits he was wrong”. There’s nothing to press you on further.

When you tell employers something else, when you try to skirt the issue and you go around it, then they’ll start digging and pressing you for more information because they don’t believe what you’re saying.

Number two, Be Brief. Remember, you’re not there to defend why you were fired. That’s between you and your past employer. You’re there to talk about what you can do for them; the value that you can bring to their company. They just want to make sure that you weren’t fired for something really bad, like embezzlement or whatever. I don’t know, something really bad. But I’m sure you weren’t let go for something really bad. That’s a completely different story.

But the key here is brevity. You want to be brief. You want to admit as many of the messy details as you can. Don’t tell your story. Don’t make it a long story about how you were fired and why it’s not your fault. Just go in there and say, “You know what? I was let go because I didn’t beat performance expectations. It’s my fault. I could have done better, but I just didn’t”. And if you have to, you can tie in a personal reason for this.

But if you talk and you talk and talk about why you were let go, that’s just going to open up a can of worms and it’s going to invite more questions. And then when you get to this point, they’re less likely to believe anything you say even, if it is the truth.

So, take responsibility for being terminated, don’t blame anyone but yourself and be brief. That’s the key.

Which brings me the next one. If they’re not happy with what you say, they’re going to start asking you questions. So, after you tell them why you were let go, if they start asking you follow up questions, any kind of questions, that means they’re not satisfied with what you told them. And this should be a red flag to you. That means they’re not buying what you’re selling. So, you need to figure out how you want to approach this.

So, that’s why I urge you to just tell the truth, “This is what happened to me”. Remember, spare them the details; just say, “I was let go because I didn’t meet expectations. I didn’t meet performance expectations. I violated a policy”. Whatever it was, tell them that; straight out. Skip the details and be brief and that should be enough to satisfy them, so you can move on in the interview and talk about why you’re there; which is to interview for this job, not explaining why you were fired. You’re not on trial. You were already let go. There’s no reason that they need to keep pressing you about why you were let go unless they think you’re hiding something.

Lastly, you want to show them that why you were let go is not a concern for them, because that’s what they’re digging for. So, let’s say for example, let’s say you were let go because you know you were coming in late every day and you tell them that. You’re like, “Well, I was coming home late every day and that’s why they let me go”.

Imagine that from that perspective. “So, here’s somebody who likes to come in late. They were fired because they kept coming in late. Well, if we hire them, they’re probably going to do the same thing”. So, this is where you might want to tie in a personal reason for why you were late.

For example, and this happens all the time. Somebody in that person’s family gets sick and they have to care for them and this takes a lot of extra time. And sometimes, they are late or they have to leave early because they have to go care for a sick loved one and this explains why they were fired.

And when you tell an employer that you were let go because you were coming in late because you had to care for a sick loved one. “But, you know what? That person is not sick anymore. They’re better and because my mom is doing fine now, she doesn’t need my attention. I won’t be late anymore for my job”. Something like that. Show them that it’s not a concern.

Now, if you were let go for a policy violation; let’s say you violated corporate policy. And I just worked with the guy who violated corporate policy. He accidentally used his company credit card to buy a personal refrigerator for a home and he went and he explained to the company. He said, “You know what? I’m so sorry. I was at Best Buy over the weekend and I went to buy a new refrigerator. I just pulled out the wrong credit card. I’m really sorry”. You know what they told him? They said, “I’m sorry Bob. We have a zero tolerance policy. You misused a corporate credit card for personal purchase. I’m sorry we have to let you go”.

Now, that seems extreme, but that really happened. So, now Bob is out there trying to explain to prospective employers that he accidentally used his company card. So, in his case, what he’s going to do is put his company credit card in a special sleeve inside of his wallet, so that he doesn’t accidentally use it for personal purchases again. And that’s how he’s going to show prospective employers that hiring him should not be a concern because he’s not going to use his corporate card for personal purchases anymore. And it was just a onetime accident.

So, in another example, I worked with a guy who was let go from Coca-Cola. He violated a safety protocol. And again they have a zero tolerance policy for safety protocol violations and he was fired. So, how do you explain that to a prospective employer?

So, in his case, he’s just going to tell prospective employers that he lost his head one day. He was just having a bad day, his kids weren’t feeling good, they didn’t go to school that day, they were sick and he was just overwhelmed with thinking about his children, he lost his head and he forgot a step at a safety protocol. And that will never happen again. It’s never happened before; he’d been working for 20 years at Coca-Cola without a single safety violation and the minute he gets one, they let it go. So, he’s got a nice way to soften the blow and tell prospective employers what happened and that that shouldn’t be a concern for them.

So, let me give you another example. I was working with a woman who was let go for not meeting her performance goals. What actually happened was she was going to night school to get her MBA. And this took a lot of extra time and energy from her day and so her performance goals went down. I think that she was in sales and she didn’t sell as much as she needed to be selling and she was let go for that.

So, her excuse to prospective employers is, “During that time, yes, my performance dropped and I was let go because I didn’t meet performance goals. But at that time, I was going to school for my MBA and this took so much extra time that it did impact my performance at work and they let me go for that. But since then, I’ve received my MBA and I’m no longer in night school and I can dedicate 100% of my time to you, if you hire me. So when you’re present it like that, you’re showing them that it’s not a concern.

So, from the top, remember; take responsibility for what happened. Have the courage to show an employer that you accept responsibility for what happened to you and that it’s your fault. Be brief. Be very brief when you explain what happened and if they start pressing you for questions, that means they’re not buying what you’re selling, so you might want to change your approach. And then third, show them that it’s not a concern.

And when you do all of this, you can explain why you were fired from a job. And when you take this approach, this is going to allow you to explain why you were fired from almost any situation and allow you to effectively interview for a new job without the stigma.

I hope you got a lot on this video. I hope it helps explain why you were fired. I know that being fired from a job is embarrassing. And you know what? I’ve been fired too; that’s right. Somebody actually fired me. It hurts; it really does. It hurt me a lot. I was fired a few times in my career and sometimes it was because they just didn’t like me. Can you imagine that? Other times, I didn’t meet certain performance goals. But more commonly, I was let go because my company folded; they went out of business. I was in the I.T. industry and I worked for a lot of different technology companies and they went out of business. They had to reduce staff. It was a very difficult time for I.T. when I worked in it and they were either hiring a lot of people or they were firing a lot of people and I got caught up in messes like that.

And for me, I just explained that you know I was let go because they laid off people or they closed their doors. And some of the companies I worked for, it just wasn’t a good fit. I wasn’t happy to be there. And I would explain to an employer why I wasn’t happy, because I wanted to show them the reasons that I was unhappy at this job would be different than if I worked for them.

So, the reasons that made me unhappy at the old job was the culture, it was what I was doing was completely different at the new job. So, I wouldn’t be doing the same thing, it would be a different environment. So, I showed them it wasn’t a concern. And that’s all there is to it. And you can do this too. But you need to have that courage to stand up and take responsibility and own what happened to you; just own it. Even if you’re wrong, even if it wasn’t your fault. You have to go in and take responsibility for what happened to you. It’s all there is to it.

So, thanks again for watching this video. I hope you found it helpful. If you like it, make sure you send me a comment and subscribe to my channel.

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About The Author

Don Georgevich

Author of 4 top selling interviewing books, speaker, and job interview strategy coach. The one person everyone calls on before a difficult job interview.

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