If you’ve been fired from a past job, a dreaded interview question is: Why did you leave your last employer? Tell the truth, right? Lie at all costs? Leave the interview in tears? While these are all options, none of them probably represent the best decision. Below are a few tips when drafting an interview answer to a question about being fired. They hold true for all legal professionals – from attorneys to office managers to paralegals to legal administrators.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Candidates should never offer up negative information about themselves in an interview. So, if the interviewer doesn’t cover a past employment where you did not perform well, or were fired, then don’t mention it. A person is not lying simply because they don’t volunteer information not asked of.
Attention to Detail
A quick disclaimer. We are by no means saying that candidates should lie about being fired. If a person lies in an interview, is later hired, and the employer finds out, the employee will likely be fired again. This is not a good thing.
But what we are here saying here is that candidates should be cognizant of how a question is asked and the details that an interviewer is asking of. If the omission of certain details does not constitute a lie, then don’t offer them up. Keeping certain details a secret is not a false statement if they weren’t properly asked of.
Put a Spin on It
If at all possible, avoid the phrase “fired.” Rather, try to spin the facts a bit and mention that a past opportunity was just not a good fit. Or, a candidate can mention that he and a past employer had differing expectations on performance.
Confidently Explain What Happened
If there’s no way around it, and he can’t avoid it, a candidate must not lie. Rather, he should succinctly explain what happened with regards to a firing. But, he must do so with confidence. This doesn’t mean he should joke about the situation, but he should communicate the details without casting doubt on his own skills and abilities. He must also try to appear poised and not frazzled. This is where practice helps.
A Lesson Learned
If the details are disclosed, candidates should also state that they have learned from the experience. They should also disclose exactly what they have learned. This indicates that the person has grown professionally from a bad experience.
Never Complain About A Past Employer
No matter if a candidate discloses a firing, or avoids the mention of it, he should never complain about a past employer. Complaining includes bad mouthing a firm or company. This just looks bad. People interviewing for a legal job should look like winners, not whiners.
Conclude with Positive Information
If a few, some, or all of the details about a termination get revealed, a candidate must try to conclude the interview with a discussion of his positive attributes. The goal here is to minimize the firing as much as possible and to convince the interviewer that, despite what happened, the candidate is still the right person for the opportunity.
Unfortunate experiences take place in all of our careers. This includes legal professionals getting fired. If a candidate gets fired, he must move on from it. This involves practicing on how to address it, or avoid it, in an interview. All candidates should be smart about it rather than clumsy or deceitful. If you have further questions about how to handle a bad situation in an interview, simply contact us now. We’re always happy to help our candidates!