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Interview tip: How to explain a layoff or being fired in an interview

Q: “Somer, I was fired. I’ve been telling companies that I was laid off since it’s easier to say, but it seems that’s not working out… Companies are questioning it. What do you recommend I do?”

A: I’m so sorry you were fired. I’m going to root my advice from a part of my book called “own your story” that fits right in with that theme. It’s ok. People get fired and get new jobs. You just have to own it: succinctly, confidently, and positively.

My two cents: Don’t lie and say you were laid off. You sound like me, meaning someone who is not a good liar, which is a good thing! Talk about what happened succinctly. Don’t dwell or apologize or over explain. Say what happened, which you explained to me was that you lacked a skill needed to be successful in the role, and then segue into a future-looking statement and move the interview along. It’s easy to talk about it for 20 minutes, but don’t.

For example, “When I accepted the role, the company and I didn’t realize that my lack of experience with X would be an issue. We tried to make it work, but at the end of the day the company decided to let me go. I learned a lot and more than anything I’m now focusing on roles that are focused on Y vs X, which is why I’m very interested in this position. I’m looking for a place where I can add value and make an impact, especially when it comes to [insert transformation here]. Does that make sense?”

More than anything this is a mindset shift. It’s ok to be fired. Do the soul searching and self-work needed to get into the right mindset before your next interview.

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