After you've been fired, one of the biggest challenges you will face is to look for another tech job, and at some point you will have to explain the reason behind your termination during a job interview.
While it's not fun to think about this part of the interview, you've got to prepare for that moment. Otherwise, you'll be left stumbling over your answer, and you may end up saying something that may not paint you in a very positive light.
So here are some tips to help you get ready for that dreaded moment, and even turn it into an opportunity to show the prospective employer that you're the right person for the job.
- Honesty is Always the Best Policy: Whatever you do, don't lie. Be honest about why you were terminated, even if you think the reason could jeopardize your chances of getting the job (such as being let go because of performance). You'll have a chance to explain, so don't hide your termination during the interview - try to get it out in the open fairly early so the employer knows you're willing to be honest about what happened. If you attempt to hide it or lie about it, the fact that you were fired might come out later in a background check.
- Avoid Sharing Too Many Details: You want to be honest, but you don't want to make it look like you're reliving the whole experience. Stick with the facts: for example, your new CIO decided to make some staff changes shortly after coming on board, and you were axed because you didn't share his or her philosophy on some aspect of work. If you divulge too many details, it will look like you haven't gotten over being fired, and that could create the impression that you're still carrying too much emotional baggage. Saying too much may also make it look like you're defending yourself, whereas being succinct and matter-of-fact in your explanation will project confidence.
- Stay Positive: This is a chance to tell the interviewer how you learned from this experience, and to show that you are no longer upset about being fired. The interviewer will want to be reassured that you have grown from this negative experience, and that if you previously made a mistake, it won't happen again. Make sure to include some positive information about achievements at your previous job, or the types of skills you developed there that you could bring to the table in this new position.
- Don't Talk Negatively About Your Former Boss: Even if your boss was incompetent or had unreasonable expectations, suppress the urge to be critical. Again, stick to the facts and avoid putting all the blame on someone else. This will ensure that you come across as a professional, and will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are not in the habit of bad-mouthing people for their shortcomings.
- Line Up Some Good References: Chances are you have worked with people who will be able to say good things about your skills, performance or attitude, even if you were officially let go for one of these reasons. Make sure your references know that the interviewer is aware of your termination so they can speak to your character and defend you in areas where you have truly shined in the past.
- Rehearse Your Answers: Know exactly what you're going to say, and practice communicating it in a positive way by smiling, sitting up straight and projecting confidence. Try to get a friend to listen to and watch you while you rehearse your answers, and to let you know whether you project any negativity at any point.