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Interview question - Why were you let go from your past job?

This can be a tricky interview question, so be prepared for it if you were let go from a previous job. Whatever the reason for you being fired, you need to avoid making an ambiguous or negative reply.

Let's assume that no dishonesty or unethical conduct was responsible for losing a job, because trying to talk yourself out of that, is not something this article is about.

There are many instances of good, hardworking and effective employees losing their jobs.

They either go en masse in lay-offs, or individually, for reasons that are not always fully explained by employers.

In these circumstances there is no shame in having lost a job.

Both well and poorly run companies sometimes have to shed staff because of marketing conditions or re-organisational needs, and this is well understood by interviewers.

If your job termination was as a result of poor judgement or decisions on your part, then you are going to have to be seen as having learnt from the situation.  We all make mistakes, some minor some serious. It is how you deal with them afterwards, what you learn from them, that will determine whether you are seen as a risky job prospect or as an ordinary person who just screwed up a bit, like most of us do sometimes, and who has risen above the problem.

You may, perhaps, have had difficulties in your dealings with other employees, supervisors or managers. If so, you must be able to show that you have learned to relate better to other people.

There is no standard answer to this interview question. You must use your own words if you are to be seen as being sincere. Also, it is inadvisable to avoid a direct answer, or to criticise your former employer when making your response.

Turn what is effectively a negative position into something positive. Be upfront about the matter, acknowledge your position (you don't have to go into great detail) then demonstrate how you have made yourself become a better person from the experience.  You will stand in much greater stead with a prospective employer than if you try to justify yourself as the innocent party.

If you were let go from a past job, face up to it, learn from it and make meaningful self improvements to enhance your value as a good job candidate. Good luck.