Fired From A Job? How To Explain It To Future Employers

fired from a job how to explain it

Q: I am a medical technologist with 10 plus years experience working in a hospital laboratory. I was terminated two years ago and have not been able to land a job with any hospital in my area. I complete applications honestly admitting to being terminated. I feel this has been a HUGE red flag; I am feeling somewhat black-balled. In the few interviews I have had, I have always been asked the reason why I was terminated. What is the best way to answer this question?


Yes, you are being disqualified because of the termination. But there is something you can do about it. To start, you need to try to connect with hiring managers directly. Applying online and admitting to your firing is immediately eliminating you. Try picking up the phone and calling companies with open positions to see if you can email a hiring manager your resume and cover letter directly, as a way to go around the application process. If that doesn't work, go ahead and apply online and hope for the best.

Now, when you do get an interview, here's what you need to do to present the situation properly:

1. Take accountability for what happened.
Employers don't expect employees to be perfect. However, they do expect you to own up to your mistakes. And, more importantly, they want you to tell them what you learned from the experience and what you plan to do to make sure it never happens again. Stick to the facts of what happened, point out where you went wrong, and then summarize what you'll do if you work for them to ensure history doesn't repeat itself.

2. Never make excuses or blame others.
The moment you start trying to share the blame with someone else, employers see you as not understanding what you did wrong. Which means, you are at risk of doing it again to them. Pointing fingers, even if others are to blame, will backfire on you. Just focus on your part in the situation and how you are overcoming it.

3. Tell them why they'll be getting a deal by hiring you.
Explain how you understand the termination has hurt your professional reputation and that you want to do whatever you can to put it behind you. Translation: The next company that hires you is going to get an employee that is going to do everything they can to exceed their expectations so you can earn back your reputation.

It's all about proving to potential employers that the termination made you a better employee. If you follow the steps above, you'll hopefully be able to convince and employer to take a chance on you. Don't give up!

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I lost one job because my supervisor told a pack of lies about me behind my back and if she sees my comment I hope it strikes all kinds of raw nerves But to have me escorted out the door like I'm some kind of common criminal I have been a law abiding citizen all my life and to me this is adding insulet to Injury any wonder there have been workplace incidents because of rotten bosses has anyone ever stopped to think why? I had commanders in my Military days who were firm but fair and crossing me I have long memory whehn someone does and now they're asking me credit scores I told them to drop dead twice why should I do any busisness for who and for what?

April 28 2013 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The simple answer is the job did not work out. If the interviewer proceeds to prolong the issue say that is why I am still not working at that place.

September 28 2012 at 12:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I have had to explain twice why I was "fired". I was laid off, not fired. The term "fired" was for the unemployment office. Regardless, I still had to find a job. The first time I talked about it, I ended up sounding like a whiner and came close to tears. The man interviewing me was kind, but I knew immeditely I had freaked him out. I would've been too in his situation!
I have found that "practicing" your answer in the privacy of your home works wonders for being able to say what happened with emotional control. You also have the opportunity to hear what you're saying and critique yourself. Saying it out loud works better than doing it in your head. Just make sure you are by son walked in on me one time and his eyes got as big as saucers and asked immediately if I was alright!!! :):):):):)
The second time was a much better response....the interviewer was appreciative of my honesty and acknowledged the situation was handled with professionalism on my part. I got a second interview.
No, I didn't get the job, but I felt much better about the explanation. The interviewer told me the other applicant had experience too, but she was 27........I was 58.
No....I don't feel bad at all for being honest. So was he. What are ya going to do? Keep trying!! :):):)

August 28 2012 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is all a one-way ruse. Employees are all expected to jump through hoops for employers while employers often do little or nothing for the employees beyond lying about hours they will be told to work, raises which never materialize, poor working conditions, etc., etc.. So what to do? FIRE your employer and find one that respects their employees or start your own business! More employees should also be asking employers why they have this job opening in the first place...they should have to account for why the prior employee fired them to all applicants, or be forced to pay a penalty for wasting someone's time.

August 28 2012 at 12:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Steve's comment
J.T. O'Donnell

Steve, I think you hit on something with the question, "Why is this job open in the first place?" Very telling if you hear about turnover and difficulties. I tell job seekers today that you are a business-of-one and need to interivew the employer as much as they interview you. Thanks for commenting!

August 28 2012 at 9:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People don't just get fired. You fire yourself. And if you quit and then try to go to a temp service, don't tell them you quit your last job. They won't help you. They only help you if you gave 2 wk. notice. I told the last temp service I tried to use that you couldn't do that at the last job I was at. The supervisor ran our dept. like prison. She didn't like NO ONE! She could get away with murder and H.R. wouldn't touch her. If you told her you were giving your 2 wk. notice, she would just let you go right then and there. Witch.

August 28 2012 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The last time I was fired I thanked the sob and told him that I would rather be dead than have to come to work there everyday. Just don't use them on you on your application, make some sh!t up, do whatever you have to do. A lot of times they don't check anyway.

August 27 2012 at 11:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I've been canned a few times, and it has never come up in interviews. Probably because they rarely check.

August 27 2012 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Indeed, I worked at a major health insurance company and one day a very good employee who we all knew was asked to pack up his desk and leave. It was odd since he'd never done anything wrong before and was even given an employee of the month award. Turns out he didn't put down that he'd been fired previously. No, no one was sure if it was something he'd done at his past job or lying on their application that got him booted. Either way it didn't work out for him. My advice to him would've been to be up front - my advice to our employer would've been to call him in to talk it over with them. Of course - ANYONE is going to be apprehensive about putting down being fired from a past employer - but my further advice to employers is to realize that there ARE idiot Human Resource people out there and bosses that just don't like some people and has nothing to do with their job performance. Unfortunately it's true. Seems they work double time to document and fire an employee for reasons having nothing to do with work. Listen to employees - sometimes their supposed "infraction" with another company has little bearing on your expectations.

August 27 2012 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

IF and I mean IF you can prove that someone is giving you a bad reference ,They CAN be sued provided you were fired for something even the unemployment agency does not recognize as beinga valid reason.
I"d love to catch some of these yo-yo's doing this ! And yeah Beentheredonethat you are exactly right ,Don't even bother using those people as a reference .

August 27 2012 at 7:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rbrtkyte's comment

Indeed rbrtkyte - as a manager with employee files at hand I was called upon to give references for past employees. Personnel at Headquarters gives what is allowed by law - but most companies would then call me up and try to get me to say something on the sly about their potential hire. "OK, we got back the basics from your company - but you actually worked with them - what did you actually think of them? and what was the REAL reason they were terminated?" They of course used "code language" to "protect" us both - but knowing the laws (or at least ethics behind them), not wanting to pass on a "bad apple" either - I ran down the list I kept and answered accordingly. Everyone has to work to live too. Keeping that in mind - I reiterated what Home Office would have said - weighed both facts and morally what I said if I didn't outright refer them back to Personnel. If they'd persist with me - imagine all who'd want to avert a bad hire all over the nation/world. Then multiply that by 99%. The best chance is to own up to it with proviso. If an employer doesn't check then it's most likely a job not worth having since they are indeed desperate for a body. Anybody. Moral is - keep your nose clean at any/all jobs 'cause to prove someone said something to another - unless you've got the phones or computer's tapped - is near impossible unless there are other witnesses who heard BOTH sides of what was said.

August 27 2012 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Or just don't tell them! I only use references who I know what they will say. I never admit to being fired. I live in a right to work state, and I've been fired LOTS of times, just because they don't like something I say, or my attitude, or something stupid like that. I just never put those jobs on the resume at all.
No one ever checks, cuz I keep getting work!

August 27 2012 at 6:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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