Fired by your previous employer? How to tactfully frame negative job exits during interviews!

So you were dismissed in your last job or things ended really badly between you and the organisation. How then do you answer the question “why did you leave your previous employer” without lying or ruining your chances in an interview?

Here are tips on how to tactfully discuss the issue of being dismissed by a previous employer;

  1. Avoid words like “fired” or “terminated.” Use more diplomatic phrases like “me and my boss came to a mutual realization that it was time I moved on” or “it was an involuntary exit but I have since learnt from my mistakes.”
  2. Do not volunteer negative information in an interview. Prepare an answer, but only use it if asked.
  3. Be factual and brief, then change the subject. Finish your answer with a statement or question that redirects the topic back to your qualifications and your fit for the new job.
  4. Very important — never ever lie about anything!




Here are some suggestions on phrases you can use to communicate negative job exits and hopefully avoid being considered an undesirable candidate.

  1. “The job wasn’t working out so my manager and I agreed that it was time for me to move on to a position that would be a better fit for me. Looking at the role description I feel confident that this is in line with what I am looking for.”
  2. “After reflecting on why I left, I realize I could have done some things differently. That job was a learning experience and I think I am wiser now. I would like the chance to prove that to you.”
  3. “Certain personal problems, which I have dealt with, unfortunately affected my work negatively. These problems have been successfully resolved and I am ready to exceed expectations in my new job.”
  4. “I wanted my career to move in a different direction, and I became mentally separated from my work which led to my departure. The opportunity we are discussing seems to be a great fit for me and I hope to eventually grow with the company.
  5. I, unfortunately, made some wrong decisions which affected my work. This led to a decision where my employer and I had to part ways. I have learnt from this experience and I am confident that I will not find myself in a similar situation in the future”

The suggestions outlined seek to help job seekers communicate an uncomfortable topic in the most effective manner. In essence, it is important to look like you have gone through some personal development, reflection and remorse (if applicable) after a dismissal from a previous employer.