Job interview questions and answers (Part 10): How to explain being fired

Job interview questions and answers (Part 10): How to explain being fired


In this week’s job search tip, we’re gonna be going over how you should explain being fired in the job interview. We’re gonna look at some examples of what you should say and some examples of what you really should avoid. That’s coming up! Hey guys, I’m Kim with Snagajob, your number one source for hourly jobs and welcome to Job Hunters, our weekly job search advice show. We give you tips from resume advice to interview advice and everything in between. Now this week we’re gonna talk about how to explain that you’ve been fired in a job interview. This can be really awkward but it’s important to remember that everyone makes mistakes so we’re gonna walk you through it. So what you don’t want to do is give an answer that makes it look like you’re blaming your former employer or coworkers. They fired me because they’re idiots. This one dummy said I was stealing Capri Suns from the break room. But it wasn’t me. It was him. I swear I wasn’t stealing. You also want to avoid anything that makes you look like you’re a bad employee or that you’re a little scary. Point to the customer. They said I was late too many times. I put on Facebook that I hate my job but I forgot my boss and I were friends. Whoops. They had this stupid rule about showing up on time. I hit on my boss. So to explain why you lost your last job and how it won’t hold you back from the next one you want to concentrate on three things. One, discuss what happened. Two, talk about what you learned. Three, explain why it won’t ever happen again. So you want to make sure you can talk honestly and sincerely about what happened. Otherwise, employers may avoid hiring you thinking this may happen again. So we were asked on YouTube, what if you were fired once because you were already late for work and the interviewer asked you why you were fired? That’s a great question. And here’s how I would answer. Well it’s uncharacteristic of me to be late to work. There were a few times where I was late coming in. I’ve since learned the value of being on time and strive to make that something that I do everyday and I hope I have the opportunity to prove that to you. So this question can be scary and it’s not the easiest thing to explain in a job interview. So make sure you come prepared to practice this answer if they do ask you why you were fired. So thanks for joining us today. If you like this video, please let us know and we’ll keep making video like this. And if you have any questions about your job search, ask us below and we may even make a video about it. Now don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel by giving that button one little click and you’ll get a new video every Wednesday. And if you’re ready to get started on your job search, click the button down on the bottom of the screen and it will take you to snagajob.com where you’ll find tons of jobs in your area. Have a great week!

66 thoughts on “Job interview questions and answers (Part 10): How to explain being fired

  • Thanks, Bae! Your question was great! A lot of people have asked us that so we were happy to make a video out of it. We try to respond to all the comments on our YouTube videos (that aren't spam) so feel free to let us know if you have any other questions about your job search! We're here to help!

  • How and when would you ask an employer "how much does the job bay " if it does not say in the job description ?

  • Good question. Were you actually fired or was your position filled while you were away? It sounds like your position was filled (or they just chose not to keep the position open when you left), in which case you could talk about how you took time off to travel and the position was no longer available when you got back.

  • Great question, Ricky! We're going to cover that in our Job Interview Tips video series. Make sure you subscribe to our channel so you know when the video comes out!

  • Great question. When it comes to pay, the best idea is to say "negotiable". If you have to give a number, make sure you have done your research on what similar positions pay but also say that it's negotiable. If they only offer minimum wage, ask questions about what kind of opportunities they have for career growth within the company.

  • That's a tough and not uncommon to be a little intimidated during a job interview. One way to you can ease the nerves is by practicing answers to job interview questions that you think the employer is going to ask, especially the ones that you've been stumped on in past interviews. It's ok to be nervous and it's ok to admit that you're a little nervous.

  • Again, this is tough because job interviews are intimidating. Before you go into a job interview, do some research on the position and on the company or business. Find things that interest you or that you want to learn more about and write them down. You can bring a "cheat sheet" to your job interview with questions that you have for the employer.

  • Write down questions that you want to ask, or at least have questions ready. Ask what a typical day or week looks like in that position. Ask about the customers, like who the typical customers are and what they're looking for. Ask about the work environment, what it's like to work there. Ask the manager how he or she got started with the company and about his or her favorite parts about working there.

  • Hey there I like your videos but I was asked the question- Can you tell of a situation where you had a difficult customer and how you dealt with it? I don't know why but I stupidly blurted out that the customer isn't always right. I kind of felt like a deer in the head lights and wanted to do a rewind.

  • Great question, Mark! This one gets asked a lot in job interviews for customer service positions. We're adding it to our list of videos to make! Stay tuned for it! I've found the best answer for this question is to stay calm, try to understand the customer's needs and do your best to help the customer any way you can. If you feel that the customer is getting more upset, then you would get your manager. Sometimes customers just want to feel like they're being heard and taken seriously.

  • Hi Bae! Did you watch our video "Job interview questions and answers (Part 7): Do you have any questions for me?" It may give you a few ideas on questions to ask. Let us know if you have any questions after you watch it. Good luck!

  • Can you do one concerning wrongfully terminated? I was assaulted at work by an ex-manager. My manager and this manager were friends and the whole situation was swept under the carpet. As time progress those 2 got me out. I don't like to lie, but I feel I have too when it comes to 'why did you leave your last job?'

  • Great question! You don’t want it to look like you’re bashing your old employer or playing the blame game. Explain that there was a miscommunication that resulted in you leaving the company. Steer the conversation to what you learned at that job and how it will make you a valuable employee in the future.

  • Great question! You don’t want it to look like you’re bashing your old employer or playing the blame game. Explain that there was a miscommunication that resulted in you leaving the company. Steer the conversation to what you learned at that job and how it will make you a valuable employee in the future.

  • What about ex cons? i haven't been in trouble in over 5 yrs and i can't find an employer that would hire me. i fill out applications every single day. i apply in person too. i can't even get an interview. I apply for these jobs and they tell you not to call that they will call you. i committed a stupid crime when i was 16 and i was charged as an adult. i am still paying for it because no one will hire me. I'm 26 now. it's just so frustrating. Any advice on what to do?

  • How do you explain having been fired for "abandoning a job"? The circumstances were I requested a day off 11 weeks in advance. Was told I couldn't have it off, told them I could not make it in that day, called the day of and was in a "limbo" stage for 10 days while they decided if the termination was going to be the route of action?

  • Hi, Bryna! Thanks for your question! You can try saying that there was a miscommunication that resulted in you leaving the company. While you regrets how everything ended, you're excited about getting back to work and proving how valuable you can be. Then you can move the conversation to talk about all the things you did in that job that make you stand out as an ideal employee.

  • I'm sorry to hear about that, candyceh87! Snagajob has several article about how to search for a job with a criminal conviction on its Resources page. In addition to your online job search, you may want to try to reach out to community organizations like Goodwill, if there is one in your area, or workforce development programs or nonprofit organizations that have job search resources. They may have job search resources and networks that can help people with charges on their records.

  • What if you were fired from a job because you were arrested for something that you didn't do?
    For example, my associate asked me how can he explain going to jail for a couple of days and missing work? He told me he had been completely honest with his employer at the moment that he was being arrested he called. His employer told him to call when he gets everything in order. When he did his employer told him no we can't hire you back. He explained this in an interview and didn't get the job. Why?

  • aww…explain how you were fired??? Thank God I never had to go through THIS question in an interview. I'm basically just looking at this video for entertainment..lol

  • GREAT answer to that question!!:-) Man, all these cool vids and great advice you give in the comment section. (sigh)…you're so knowledgeable..lol

  • Not sure if you've done this but, you might want to look at other youtube videos on that specific topic. Maybe that can help you out? I actually looked up a few vids on this (because I'm actually intrigued by this..lol!) and found other vids about finding a job w/ a criminal record. Good luck!

  • was fired because my previous supervisor had it in for me and when a subtle issue came up he used it as cause resulting in my losing my job of 5 years and becoming ineligible for unemployment. The official reason was "failure to follow instruction" when the truth of the matter is that I fairly questioned a guy with a god complex and he took offense. However, this looks terrible on my record and I am at a loss as to how to explain it without looking bad or pointing fingers. Please help me.

  • I really need a job and I have never been fired until now. The local McDonald’s won't even look at an application unless I have been to college, which I have not. Also, there is a tendency toward hiring students, the very young and those nearing retirement age. I am 27 and most of my experience has been in odd jobs up until the last one. I go through the motions over and over and nothing is coming my way in return and I fear that if it does that I won't be able to explain what happened.

  • No offense but the area that I live in has a 43% unemployment rate and most of those are as a result of people much more qualified than myself getting laid off. So for almost every position that opens up I have several people ahead of me who have never been fired. Needless to say being evasive is not going to help me here, I will be lucky if they don't bring it up but honestly the chances of that are slim to none. Can't you give better advice than that? Please?

  • It’s a tough question to answer. Like you said, you want to explain it without looking bad or pointing fingers. Your best bet is to answer in the way explained in the video: 1) Briefly discuss what happened without going into too much detail. 2) Talk about what you’ve learned and 3) why it won’t happen again. For the reason you mentioned, did you question him in front of your team? If so, perhaps you could say you learned that if you have any issues, you know to talk to the manager privately.

  • Well I guess am just going to have to do what I can then because my interview is in an hour. Also, I did speak to my boss privately which was a part of the problem. What he did was illegal but I don't have a single witness that I can use to prove that in court or otherwise. Anyway, I will consider the advice, thanks.

  • what if you caught someone sealing like a customer. what would you do.
    I say I would tell that person to put that back and if I see if sealing again I would call the manger

  • +Clo Victoria, the best thing to do to resolve a conflict with a coworker is to talk to the coworker directly. If you feel unsafe or the conflict interferes with your ability to do your job, talk to your direct supervisor about the issue.

  • How to answer a question for falling asleep at work. Ever since my termination I can't get a job. And interviews have been hard.

  • How do you explain it won't ever happen again when your boss simply was not happy with you (not your work: you)?  

  • On the day of Saturday, March 15th, 2014 I verbally reprimanded a coworker for operating a nearly 9,000 lb. Forklift Truck in a manner dangerous to pedestrian workers because no managers,supervisors, foreman etc. were present to correct his action.
    Getting the coworker to cease and desist the unsafe operation of company equipment (a Forklift Truck) endangering pedestrian workers was more important than to me than whether or not the words I used were "unprofessional" as I am not part of lower, middle or upper management. Admittedly the language used in said reprimand contained profanity.
    The coworker I reprimanded issued a written complaint to management about my verbal reprimand to him.
    On Tuesday, March 18th I was questioned by Warehouse Manager Steve (last name unknown to me) about the incident. Warehouse Manager Steve instructed me to go home on that day of Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 until "a decision was made" about the incident.
    On Wednesday, March 19th, 2014, while at my home, I was informed VIA A TELEPHONE CALL by the Human Resource Manager that Warehouse Manager Steve (last name unknown to me) had made to decision to, and I quote: "END MY EMPLOYMENT". No reason was given as a reason for termination. No written explanation was ever received by me or signed by me. I was 100% informed of the termination of my employment in this breif phone call with Human Resource Manager Karen Rabine in this manner and no other. I received nothing in writing and signed nothing with regard to my termination of employment.

  • I'm watching all these and I answer these on point typically. What I get on EVERY email rejection is they wanted someone with more experience. What can I do about that if no one will give me a shot? I show that I am dedicated, dress a step above the job, and I practice. How can I shine above someone with 20+ years job experience when I don't even have 10?

  • Upon calling for computer cliches & was asked what are you looking for? Then asked what experience do you have? How do you reply to the question: are you able to go back to your previous job? (When one can't)…felt like it was a prescreening. technique to watch for the App/Resume & disregard it.

  • What do I do if i was fired because of an untrue rumor that my boss believed? i didn't do anything wrong. My boss fired me and I had to find out through other people .

  • i got fired for poor performance but i wasnt doing poorly! i was wrongfully fired and i dont know what to say in an interview. No one is going to beleive me. could i just say i got layed off

  • I was let go after my company whom I had worked with for 5.5 years and another company had merged, I worked for the new company for 15 days and was put on medical leave. I had gone through having Lung cancer 8 months prier and had been on medical leave for 3 months. The new company was gracious enough to hold my position for 2 months, but then let me go. Do I explain just like it happened or handle it another way?  Thank you for the help and keep up the good work.

  • I got fired because I'm too shy and quite and considered not social. An interview is comming tomorrow, how am I gonna explain that to the interviewer, while the most important thing for new employees is being adaptable???

  • Here's my question. Everything was fine at my old job till I told my manager that I didn't appreciate him calling me "Kitten" and making comments such as that I need to gain some weight, that I was too skinny. He also had the urge to constantly poke me, or touch my face. After I told him that that could be considered sexual harassment. The answer I got was "It's only sexual harassment if you report it", and everything went down hill from there. All of a sudden I got written up for not following company procedures although I did everything the way I was trained by HIM. From getting change to how I dress to how many breaks I take and so on. After I was fired, my coworker also quit because she was tired of how the store manager was treating his employees and the lies he would tell upper management about us. How do I explain that? I don't really want to talk smack about my previous employer as it will probably make the future employer think that it will happen with them as well?

  • I got fired from a small factory because I did not work fast enough. I was on time every day and I couldn't meet up to their 80% RE of work must be made a day, I would put an average of 50-70% but couldn't work as hard as they wanted me. What do I tell my next employers on why I got fired

  • What if you get fired for calling out too much? I got fired because I got sick a lot and not every time I got a doctor note. I left on good terms but in still not sure what to say.

  • I feel like the examples in the videos are fake responses. While I may respond with similar answers, I don't necessarily say things the way they would say it. If I answer questions with answers they'd want to hear, just not the way depicted in the video, would I have a better chance of getting hired? I feel like if I talk more like myself they would think I actually think the answers are true as opposed to just giving them the answers they want to hear. I apologize if that made no sense lol.

  • How can I explain to a job interview that the reason I was fired was because I violated company's gratuity policy?

  • I was fired because they see me I have a poor performance on the job. but I really do my very very best, since it is my first time to have a job, and I'm still adjusting. help me, give me some advice…. how will I answer the interview question , regarding with my case…[email protected]

  • I quit a job but the company I worked for said I was terminated,I had a situation where I was turned down for a promotion,right after they told me I told a manger there I was ill and I was going home,but really I was done working there then they said I was terminated.what do you say in a situation like this?

  • How about explanation about being fired due to Absence without official leave?? What can I say? 🙁 any tips please

  • Can someone help me please , i got fired for calling out and being late a few times. I recieved a termination letter and they gave me the first page of it , but kept the second page with my signature on it . Will this effect my chances of getting a job in the future ? Will this affect my backround checks ? Will this affect my social security number ? Will this prevent me from getting a job as a nurse when i am done with my nursing school ? Please help me i am in so much tension . And this was a retail job . Thank you

  • I was fired from a position I only had for a month and a half. The entire time there, I was told by my manager what a great job I was doing. Then, I came in one day and my stuff was packed and I was told I was fired but not given a reason. I have no idea how to explain that. Any ideas?

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