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Stop Cringing! How to Tell an Interviewer You've Been Fired

Remember that time (four months ago) that you got called into your dictatorial punk of a boss’ office (who, you could swear, had it out for you since day one)—and were asked to kindly pack up your cubicle, log out of the office laptop, and return your cell phone, immediately?

Yeah, that pretty much sucked.

Fortunately, after six weeks of moping around in your rumpled hoodie and yoga pants, followed by two months of informational interviews, job applications, and research, you’ve landed an interview. And the company is amazing.

This is your shot.

But hold the phone. What are you going to do when that dreaded question comes up (as it surely will): “Why, exactly, did you leave your last job?”

You’re going to explain what went down, share what you learned, and then knock their socks off with all of the amazing things you can deliver, that’s what you’re going to do.

I know, I make it sound easy. And it’s not ever simple, especially if you’re still feeling hot emotions over the termination or struggling with diminished “I’m the loser who got canned” self-esteem.

But if you truly want the job, here’s what you’ve got to do when asked the dreaded question at the interview.

1. Come to Terms With Your Emotions Before You Set Foot in the Interview

This must be your first step, before you start pursuing new opportunities or booking interviews.

If you can’t walk into that meeting with a cool head and the ability to speak calmly about your qualifications and your past job experience, spend whatever time it takes on the front end to process what happened and find your peace.

No one hires a hothead. Well, except maybe clubs in search of super-intimidating bouncers or media outlets that pride themselves on being annoyingly polarizing. All other employers will be expecting a level-headed professional to walk through their doors. Be that person.

2. Without Hesitating, Explain Succinctly What Happened

Less is almost always more in this instance. If you rattle on and on about what happened and why and over-explain the whole deal, you look sketchy; like you’re trying to cover something up.

Genuine, honest, and succinct dialogue, à la, “Unfortunately, I was let go,” is going to get you much farther. Remember, you’re talking to a human. All of us humans goof up sometimes; some of us