When we’re waiting to go into a job interview, we have questions we hope come up and other ones we hope to avoid.
Maybe you’ve rehearsed your answers over and over again, and you’re super confident in some more than others. Or, maybe you have something to hide.
Sometimes, the reason you’re looking for a new job might be that you were fired from your last one.
However, in this situation you don’t have to lose all hope. According to John Crowley, who works in content and marketing at HR company People, an employer doesn’t need to know whether or not you were fired from your previous job, and there is no legal obligation to disclose this information.
“Having said this, they will probably want to know why you left — or at least why you’re seeking a new opportunity,” he told Business Insider. “At all costs, try to avoid being dragged into a conversation about why you were fired.”
If you start talking about the reasons why you were let go, you risk being dragged into a conversation where you have to defend yourself. This then immediately looks like you’re blaming your previous employer, which can come across as bad-mouthing.
“Instead, you’re better off avoiding the technical reason your employment ended, and using a fairly neutral explanation, such as ‘I left my previous job because things weren’t working out and I needed to find a new challenge for my career,’ or something similar.”
Crowley suggests two things you can say below. However, these answers only work if your reason for being let go was something minor, and you want to lay all your cards on the table. If you committed a crime, then this will probably be found out in a background check anyway.
- I was let go because there was a conflict of personalities. It was probably for the best for both parties, and as you can see from my job history, this isn’t a recurring pattern.
- I was going through a bad stage in my life, and was frequently late, made too many errors, or fell out with colleagues, which eventually led to my dismissal. I’ve since turned my life around, and I’m ready for my next challenge — as you can see, this hasn’t been a recurring pattern in my job history, and was just a blip.
It’s common for hiring managers to ask for a reference from your last place of work. Employers aren’t supposed to supply bad references, but they can decline the request, which Crowley says can immediately set off alarm bells.
“With this in mind, if you impress your potential employer well enough, and demonstrate your skills and abilities, a reference might not be the ‘be all and end all’ of their decision,” he added. “So don’t let this bother you too much, as long as you can play to your strengths, and avoid being dragged into politics.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.