Maybe you were fired or laid off – under “not-to-pleasant” circumstances, or maybe you quit un-expectantly?

Whatever the reason –  there is something or some things that you’d rather not talk about in the job interview. Not only have you had a bad experience, but now you have to talk about it – again and again.

How you deal with these questions will depend a lot on how you have resolved the issue with yourself. In order to answer these types of questions effectively it will be important to deal with your issue ahead of time. The best way to do that is to think about and script an answer.

Here are some sample questions of difficult questions:

“Have you ever been fired?”

“Why did you leave your last job without another job lined up?”

Here are examples of how two candidates answer the questions:

  • Candidate #1

“I had a great boss, but he left. From the very beginning it was clear that my new boss and I were going to be at odds. We just had different types of personalities. She kept changing the rules. One day she would want it this way, and the next day another way. I don’t usually have problems with bosses but this woman was really overbearing in her management approach.”

This is not the best way to present the situation. This candidate could be classified as a “whiner.” Badmouthing former employers during the interview is a bad idea. No one wants to hear about someone else’s shortcomings, particularly someone they don’t even know. And, you may give the interviewer the impression that this is how you’d talk about them someday.

  • Candidate #2

“I was fired after a major reorganization. The merging of different cultures had caused a major change in the way things were done. There were some differences of opinion between my boss and myself and, in the end, I was fired. I take responsibility for my part in the way things turned out. I learned a lot from the experience, and in retrospect, I would have handled it differently. But, that is behind me now, and I am ready to move on with a new perspective.”

This is a much better answer because it demonstrates strength and self-confidence. Candidate #2 takes responsibility and deals with the question honestly.

Whether you were fired or laid off or whatever the circumstances, write down your thoughts, and how you would answer this question. Read your script aloud, or use a tape recorder, and practice until you like what you hear. Better yet, answer the question for someone else in a mock interview. Have him or her observe your interview technique – body language, eye contact, comfort-level while answering this question. Feedback from someone else will help you improve your presentation.

Probably the worst way to handle any question of this nature is to lie.  One lie usually leads to another, and before you know it you are in over your head. You always take a chance whenever you put a lie on an application. The application usually has a signature line on the back where you sign, stating that the above is true, and that any false statements could be grounds for termination.

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