If you’ve been fired from your last job, you might be wondering how to answer the “Reason for Leaving” question on your next job application. It can be tricky to know what to say without incriminating yourself.
However, it’s definitely possible to turn this situation around and make it work in your favor.
According to career experts, the following are the best ways to answer “Reason for Leaving” on your job application when fired:
HR Manager, ResumeLab
When trying to find a job, you may be asked what your reason for leaving was or if you were fired.
How do you answer this question in a way that shows the hiring manager that you’re still an excellent candidate without revealing personal information or mentioning anything that could hurt your chances of getting the position?
The “reason for leaving” question is common during job applications because employers want to know if the candidate will be present and reliable.
If they aren’t sure about your trustworthiness, they might not hire you.
In order to increase your chances of getting the job, it’s best to have a few different response options ready. There are many ways to answer this question as long as you remain honest and avoid bringing up any details that could hurt your application.
Be honest without revealing personal information
Depending on the reason you were fired, you might not want to disclose any personal information. However, having an unspecific “general” reason for your firing may cause employers to wonder why you weren’t more specific.
You might want to consider being specific about the circumstances surrounding your firing. A good rule of thumb is to be honest without revealing any personal information that could negatively affect your job application.
You might consider talking about the circumstances surrounding your firing like you would a mistake you made on the job.
“I was fired due to a lack of communication between departments that led to a major mistake. I have since learned how to communicate more effectively to avoid problems like this in the future.”
Show that you’re still committed to your career path
Depending on what led to your firing, you might want to show that you’re still committed to your career path.
For example, if you were fired because you were trying to pursue a career change, you want to indicate that you’re still committed to your original ambitions.
You can do this by talking about how you’ve learned from your firing and how you’re more committed to your career path than ever before.
“I was fired because I was trying to pursue a career change. Since then, I’ve learned that my passions lie in the field I was originally hired for. I’m now more committed to my career path than ever before.”
Show that you’ve improved since you were fired
Depending on what led to your firing, you might want to show that you’ve actually improved since your firing. You can do this by providing examples of how you’ve learned from your firing and made you a better candidate for the position.
You can also include how you’ve dealt with any problems in your past so that hiring managers know that you’ve learned from your mistakes and that you’re trustworthy now.
“I was fired because of an issue with a co-worker that led to a major misunderstanding. Since then, I’ve worked to better communicate with my co-workers and have since overcome my shyness. Communication is now one of my strengths.”
Show that there were non-discriminatory reasons for your firing
Depending on what led to your firing, you might want to show that there were non-discriminatory reasons for your firing.
If you were let go because of company restructuring, for example, talk about how your firing was a purely non-discriminatory reason. You can do this by mentioning how you were affected by the same factors that led to other employees being fired.
“I was fired due to company restructuring. Many other employees were also let go at the same time.”
Offer a couple of more neutral responses
Depending on what led to your firing, you might want to offer a couple more neutral responses as well.
For example, if you were fired because of your lack of commitment, you might want to respond with:
“I was fired due to a lack of commitment on my part.”
It’s important to remember that regardless of the specific reason for your firing, you want to respond with something that is as neutral as possible. It’s critical to avoid being too negative about the situation.
You want to show hiring managers that you’re not bitter about the firing but that you’ve since grown from the experience.
You can do this by showing how you’ve grown since the firing:
“I was fired due to a lack of commitment on my part. Since then, I’ve worked to be more reliable and am now committed to my work.”
At the end of the day, how you answer this question is largely dependent on the circumstances surrounding your firing.
As long as you’re honest and avoid bringing up any details that could hurt your application, there’s no one right way to respond.
Instead, you want to have a few different options ready to find the most appropriate response for your situation. Be sure to tailor your answers to the situation to show hiring managers that you’re still the ideal candidate.
Head of Job Market Research, JobSearcher
Your choice of words might influence how you frame your leaving
Thousands of citizens have lost their jobs and found new, often better ones. These days, it happens so often that we urge individuals to be ready since it is quite likely to happen in almost everyone’s job.
The most successful individuals I know have experienced termination. Moreover, your choice of words and phrases might influence how you frame your leaving.
When justifying your decision to leave after being fired, think about utilizing the following words and phrases:
Using the word “termination” to describe your dismissal from your employment is simple yet professional.
You may claim it was a mutual disconnection if you and your boss discussed the situation and determined that the job wasn’t a good fit.
The phrase “let go” also conveys the impression that you were dismissed without really saying so.
Although “unwilling separation” is a milder phrase than “firing,” it suggests that you did not choose to quit your job.
Another option is to use the tone-neutral phrase, “You were dismissed from your post.”
Saying your job ended is a straightforward way to suggest that you were dismissed.
What to do if you’re fired for applying for a job
On the other side, you will be asked in your job application to provide a succinct explanation of why you left your previous position. On your job application, you may choose to simply put “Job ended,” “Laid off,” or “Terminated.”
Since getting an interview is the purpose of your application and CV, this is advised. If you deal with the problem face-to-face rather than in writing, your chances of success are substantially higher.
The greatest approach to bounce back from being fired from a job is to start looking for a new one right away, using everything you’ve learned to help you make wiser decisions.
Senior HR and Recruitment Manager, 20four7VA
When you’re applying for a new job, one of the questions you’ll likely be asked is, “What is your reason for leaving your current or most recent position?”
If you were fired from your previous job, answering this question can feel difficult and stressful. However, it’s important to remember that there are ways to answer this question honestly without damaging your chances of getting the new job.
Here are a few tips for how to answer the “reason for leaving” question on a job application when you’ve been fired:
Don’t lie about what happened
Employers can often tell when an applicant is being evasive or dishonest, which will reflect poorly on you. It’s always better to be upfront and honest about your situation.
Keep it brief
There’s no need to go into great detail about what happened. Simply state the facts and move on.
Take responsibility for your part in the situation
If you were fired because of something you did, take ownership of your actions and don’t try to make excuses.
Focus on the future
Once you’ve explained the situation, shift your focus to what you’re doing now and what your plans are for the future. This will show that you’re taking steps to improve your situation and are looking ahead.
Maintain a positive attitude
Try to maintain a positive attitude, no matter how difficult the situation is. This will show employers that you can move on from challenges and are still enthusiastic about working.
By following these tips, you can answer the “reason for leaving” question on a job application honestly and in a way that won’t damage your chances of getting the job. Good luck!
Career Expert, Career Addict
Provide relevant reasoning for your job ending without being negative
The best way to answer this question is to keep it brief and be honest. Future employers can always call your previous place of work as a reference, so it’s important to answer truthfully.
I always find it worse when the interviewee lies about their termination reason, and I find out from someone else what really happened. You don’t have to go into specific details but be honest.
If you can keep your explanation brief and to the point when asked, the better off you’ll be. They just wanted to know why you were let go; as I said before, specific details aren’t necessary.
Another tip is not to use the word fired, which comes across as very negative. Use the phrase “Let go” or “Job ended” instead.
Provide relevant reasoning for your job ending without being negative. You can say, “It wasn’t a good fit,” and let them know the job you are applying for with them is much more suitable for your skills and knowledge.
Stay positive and have a good attitude, as it goes a long way.
Being fired from a past job isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker when trying to get hired somewhere new. How you handle yourself and how you handle the questions in the job interview are most important for the interviewers to see.
Senior Technical Recruitment Specialist | Recruiter, Jooble
Explain the whole situation and whether you did everything to fix this problem
One of the most uncomfortable questions during a job interview or job application is “Reason for leaving from the previous job,” which is difficult to answer, especially if you were fired.
My main rule during an interview with a candidate is be honest. The truth will come out during recommendations from your ex-employer.
The common problem is answering it correctly and not being honest with your employer. It is better to be honest with the employer and not to start cooperation with a lie, but at the same time, there is not always a desire to talk about the real reason for the dismissal.
One of the common reasons for dismissal is demotivation, conflict, and failure to perform official duties.
The following are the causes and reasons to best explain to your employer if you were fired:
Demotivation or when the company does not see your growth as a professional
Many factors influence employee motivation:
- A person has been working in one company for a long time.
- The company lacks growth or product itself.
- The company does not encourage its employees’ development
If you were fired due to a loss of motivation, it is worth talking about your development in a previous company and when you felt a problem in professional growth.
Explain the whole situation and whether you did everything to fix this problem. This will give confidence to the future employer that you are motivated to develop and work on yourself.
Conflict and lack of empathy
Suppose you were fired due to conflict and lack of empathy.
In that case, it is worth analyzing this situation after receiving honest feedback from colleagues and the manager about your work in the team. This will give an understanding of what exactly was understood as “conflict” and will avoid further misunderstandings in the new team.
In this case, talk about misconceptions in the last place and work on developing your empathy with understanding the mistakes made earlier.
Irresponsible attitude to work
In this situation, it would be best to conduct a self-analysis of why you were irresponsible to the tasks set and how much you liked what you previously worked on. Perhaps this is the reason.
When interviewing or filling out a job application, speak openly about how you were irresponsible for specific tasks, giving real reasons. And at the moment, you are sure that this will not happen again.
If the reason for which you were fired does not coincide with one of the above, it would be better to be honest about the cause when communicating with the employer. And if the reason was partly in you, let the employer know how you worked on it.
It’s better to tell the truth than lie about the real reason. Honesty and the ability to work on oneself will never alienate an employer, unlike the lies that reveal.
Managing Director | Co-Founder, Four Recruitment
Keep your answer short and to the point
It can be a challenging conversation, but I always think honesty is key because it will only come out in your reference, and chances are that your employer won’t communicate it the way you would like.
Use the time to tell your story and explain your reasons for the situation.
- Keep your answer short and to the point.
- Be honest, but keep it positive and light-hearted.
Most people shift the blame to their employer. However, I think accountability goes a long way.
You can always switch it on its head and explain that:
“The job wasn’t right for me; however, this job is a better match for my skill set because of A, B, and C”.
Career Expert, Resume Builder
Honesty is always the best policy when interviewing, and how you share your information is key as to how it is received.
There are many explanations that are very easy for a prospective hiring manager to understand and not impede your candidacy, such as layoffs, reorganizations, or even a mutual agreement that the position is not the right match for the employee.
So many times, when people are ultimately fired, they do see it coming and are typically already in a search or prepared to search. In this way, it is almost “mutual.”
When shared in an open, honest, professional way, without emotions, but as a business situation, it is appreciated.
What needs to follow then is an explanation of:
- What is the right fit?
- Why and why you are pursuing this position?
- How have you learned what is right for you?
- How can you contribute in this role?
Don’t spend much time on the “firing,” but quickly move on to how you researched the company and position and how you are focused on where you can make an impact aligned with your talents.
CEO and Founder, Home Grounds
Getting fired and explaining such a thing in your next job application is quite a difficult task. However, being true and fair about the same is equally important.
As an employee, you must have such skills to confront and take responsibility and:
Use a soft/warm tone
A top-notch tip is you must just reverb your vocabulary a little bit. You can always go for softer terms such as “Involuntary separation” or “Mutual separation.”
Trust me, this sounds a lot better than using got fired. Coming to the reasons, you must first start with your strengths and gradually come over to where you lack.
The reason must be soft-toned and be followed by the future action taken by you to fix it.
Gather all the elements correctly
You must ensure none of your reasons portrays you as demotivated or as if you lack the spark to grow and align yourself with the company.
Carefully, you can explain your situation, such as:
“Working for a few years now, my growth was constantly being hurdled due to fewer opportunities which reflected over my performance and my individual growth.”
Explain that you’re ready to take up fresh challenges and work in a much more comprehensive environment than before. Moreover, giving reasons related to your compensation can be added by underlining the fact of no raise in compensation.
Revamp your career
Work can be monotonous as well as restricted several times. Due to such a load or pressure, your productivity might decrease.
Your brain might actually need a change of field or department, carrying your potential somewhere else. This is one of the better reasons that you can convey to your new employer.
A change in your career line can prove to be beneficial for you as well as your productivity, so a career/field change can be another reason for your mutual lay-off in the previous company.
Related: 10 Best Career Development Books
Chief Editor, WP Dev Shed
If a prospective employer requests a reason for your termination, there are three options you can provide:
Preference 1: Keep your dismissal a secret
Keep your dismissal a secret. In essence, this is lying. If you are discovered, you can be sure you won’t be hired. Your potential employer will very certainly learn that you were fired from a job thanks to the internet, background checks, etc.
Even if you land the job, you run the danger of being dismissed down the road, which could make it difficult for you to land other employment. This is not a choice I advise.
Preference 2: Clearly state your termination’s cause
Clearly state your termination’s cause. I wouldn’t advise this one either; however, it may be preferable than not stating it at all. It can look awful if you reveal too much information.
There is no method for the potential employer to follow up with you after reading your application. It can appear that you are trying to justify your dismissal.
Preference 3: Don’t reveal too much information, and don’t overlook crucial details either
“Tell us briefly why you were fired.” This is how I operate. Give a concise justification for why you were fired. Don’t reveal too much information, and don’t overlook crucial details either.
When discussing your previous job departure, keep it brief. Without having to concentrate on it, this will provide your potential future employer with a sufficient explanation.
Architectural Draftsman, AC Design Solutions
Be honest in your response
The first thing to determine if you were fired is whether you will disclose your job loss or if you will wait for the boss to bring it up. I tend to come out ahead of them.
I value direct responses and a no-nonsense attitude. I might also suffer a heart attack while waiting for the interviewers to bring up the topic, so I’d rather get it out of the way now.
There are a few strong reasons to hold off on asking the question until the employer does.
You might wait it out, for instance, if the new employer won’t inquire about your firing and it isn’t known to the public.
Saying you don’t know could make you appear disengaged and ignorant
If the conditions were unpleasant, your initial instinct is to defend yourself when the recruiter asks why you left your position. “I didn’t do it,” “My employer was a total moron.” It is in our nature.
It’s the worst thing you could ever say. Someone who is considering becoming your new boss is not going to decide over by your rant about your previous employer.
Saying you don’t know could seem like a good way to sidestep the topic, but all it does is make you appear disengaged and ignorant. Simply put, any justification is unacceptable.
The finest thing you will do when discussing losing your job is to accept responsibility. Now, I’m not saying you must confess your sins, play the ignorant village fool, or claim responsibility for the last recession.
The opposite is true. The best way to gain respect (and to change the subject swiftly) is to acknowledge your involvement in the mishap. Say that you lost an account if you did.
If there was a personality clash between you and your boss, be upfront about it. It’s humiliating to acknowledge your error. That’s how it should be. It’s where the fragments land on the ground.
CEO and Co-Founder, Qooper Mentoring & Learning Software
Be honest, but be tactful
First and foremost, never lie about why you left your previous job. If you do, you’re only setting yourself up for trouble down the road.
Be honest, but be tactful. You don’t want to badmouth your former employer, but you also don’t want to make excuses for why you were let go.
The best way to approach this is to focus on the positive.
For example, you could say something like:
“I was let go because the company was downsizing, and they had to make cuts.”
This shows that you understand why you were let go and that it wasn’t personal. You can also use this opportunity to talk about what you learned from the experience.
If you were let go because of poor performance, the best thing you can do is be honest and humble.
Show that you’re actively trying to improve your situation
Again, don’t make excuses or try to downplay what happened. Just acknowledge that it wasn’t your best work and talk about what you’ve done to improve since then.
For example, you can say:
“I was let go because my performance wasn’t up to par. I’ve since taken some courses and done a lot of research to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
It’s also important to be prepared to talk about what you’ve been doing since you were fired. If you’ve been unemployed, be honest about that and talk about what you’ve been doing to stay busy.
If you’ve been working part-time or freelance, tell them about that, too. The key is to show that you’re still working and actively trying to improve your situation.
Former HR Professional | Founder and CEO, Matchr
Spin it in a more positive light
If you were fired from your previous job and have to explain why you left that job on a new application, the best thing to do is avoid using negative language.
It may be tempting to speak ill of the employer that fired you, but that won’t give the new prospective employer a good impression of you.
You should still be honest about the fact that you were fired because the prospective employer may contact your former employer when checking references.
Getting caught lying or hiding the truth could result in the company no longer considering you for employment. If the prospective employer will find out that you were fired regardless, then it’s better to take the opportunity to spin it in a more positive light.
You can explain why you were fired but also show that you have learned from that mistake and are now a better employee after that experience.
Founder and CEO, Embroker
Keep your language positive to make a lasting impression
It may seem counterintuitive, but there are ways to actually describe a termination on an application that can be advantageous, making it a good idea to look for a positive spin.
Words have power, and which ones you decide to use when explaining the circumstances of a firing can tilt the application reviewer in one direction or another.
“Difference of opinion”
A termination stemming from unreasonable expectations can be explained as a “Difference of opinion” or a “Different interpretation of standards.”
Avoid words that conjure up negative images
In addition, avoiding words that conjure up negative images, such as “Argument” or “Disagreement,” and keeping away from adjectives that imply blame prevents you from painting a negative picture.
Keeping your language positive will give you a better chance of making a lasting impression on your application.
Head of People, PhotoAiD
Don’t try to cover up the fact that you were fired
If you’re asked to provide a reason for leaving on a job application and you were fired from your previous job, it can be tough to know how to respond.
You don’t want to lie, but you also don’t want to offer up too much information—after all, you don’t want your potential new employer to think you’re a risky hire.
Don’t try to cover up the fact that you were fired – your potential employer will likely find out eventually, and it’s better to be upfront about it.
Avoid painting yourself in a negative light
There are many reasons why someone might be fired from their job, but not all of them reflect poorly on the individual.
Perhaps you were let go because your company downsized, and they no longer had positions available for which you were qualified. Or maybe you left to pursue other opportunities.
There is no need to go into detail about why you were fired—simply state that you left for personal reasons or were laid off. This will avoid painting yourself in a negative light and potential employers.
However, if you choose to provide a reason for being fired, be sure to keep it brief and positive.
You were terminated because of downsizing or restructuring within the company.
You left because you had to relocate out of state for a new job opportunity.
Whatever the reason, be sure to avoid any negative comments about your former employer.
Senior Investment Manager, Scottish Heritage SG
“Mutual terms based on differences of opinion regarding certain matters”
Start off with how the terms of your contract with your previous employers are confidential and that you do not wish to disclose the information.
Tell them that the termination of the contract was on “Mutual terms based on differences of opinion regarding certain matters” and that you believe that parting ways were the best way forward.
There is no need to go into the horrific details even if you believe you were right because backbiting about your previous employer can make you look unprofessional and fussy.
Be diplomatic with your answer and try to steer the conversation elsewhere by saying something along the lines of “moving forward.”
Chief Customer Officer, FragranceX
Don’t lie; be upfront
There’s no reason to lie to your future employer. Your best option is usually going to be honest and upfront.
Tell the truth— even if it’s embarrassing—and explain what happened in a way that puts yourself in the best light possible.
Instead of saying “I was fired for stealing,” say “I was terminated for violating the company’s code of conduct.”
Be prepared for potential questions about why your former employer decided to let you go, and have an answer ready.
If you were fired because of layoffs, be sure to mention that in your explanation. It’s not always easy to find another job when you’ve been laid off, so hiring managers will likely understand and sympathize with your situation.
Finally, remember to stay positive! No one wants to hire someone who sounds bitter or angry about their past experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Request Feedback From My Former Employer if I Was Fired?
It’s generally a good idea to ask your former employer for feedback, even if you were fired. Here are some reasons why:
It can help you learn from your mistakes: Feedback from your former employer can help you understand what went wrong and how you can improve in the future. It can help you develop professionally and avoid similar situations in the future.
It can demonstrate your accountability: By asking for feedback, you show that you’re willing to take responsibility for your actions. This can be viewed positively by a potential employer.
It can show that you’re proactive: By taking the initiative to ask for feedback, you indicate that you’re proactive and interested in learning and developing professionally. By doing so, you show that you’re committed to continuous improvement.
It can potentially improve your chances of getting hired: Taking the initiative to ask for feedback demonstrates your professionalism and willingness to learn from mistakes. This can help you stand out from other applicants and increase your chances of getting hired.
When asking your former employer for feedback, be respectful and professional. Don’t be defensive or confrontational; try to approach the conversation with an open mind. Demonstrating your willingness to learn and grow can turn a negative experience into a positive one.
Can I Use a Different Reason for Leaving if I Don’t Want to Disclose That I Was Fired?
While it’s tempting to give another reason for leaving, it’s generally not advisable to lie or misrepresent the circumstances of your departure. Here are some reasons not to do so:
You could get caught: It could backfire if you’re dishonest about why you left. Your potential employer might ask your former employer for a job reference, and if the information you provide doesn’t match that of your former employer, it could damage your credibility.
It could harm your chances of being hired: If you’re caught lying about why you left, it could hurt your chances of getting hired. Employers value honesty and integrity, and if they can’t trust you to tell the truth about something as basic as your work history, they may wonder what else you’re hiding.
It’s not worth the risk: While being fired can be a difficult experience, it’s not the end of the world. By being honest and transparent, you can show that you’re resilient, take responsibility, and are willing to learn from your mistakes.
Instead of lying or misrepresenting the circumstances of your departure, focus on being honest and transparent. Explain what happened and what you learned from the experience, and emphasize your skills, accomplishments, and value as a potential employee.
In this way, you can demonstrate your professionalism and integrity and potentially turn a negative experience into a positive one.
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