I think most of us would agree that ANY job interview can be a nerve-racking experience. But a job interview after being fired can take your stress to atomic levels. Having conducted more job interviews over the last two decades than I care to count, I can assure you that while it’s a very emotional experience for you, it’s simply just business to the potential employer. Their number one goal is not to reduce you to tears by making you relive the experience. Rather, they simply want to find out if you can make them better and if you are a good fit for their management style and their team.
Check out the tips below to increase the likelihood that you are recruited to join the team because as hockey great Wayne Gretzky shares, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”
1. Provide details. Plan to provide a brief explanation of what occurred with your recent position. The trick here is address the past and then move on. Remember, this interview is about your future and the potential for you to help this company be successful. Don’t let your past become the focus. Your explanation should be brief. No more than 1-2 minutes long, professional and free from emotion. Undoubtedly, this will require some practice; however, underestimating the importance of this question can be a devastating mistake. Your response to this question alone may determine if you move forward in the selection process. Consequently, save the sordid details for happy hour with your friends, avoid negativity at all costs and if you learned something from the experience include it.
2. Know policy. It’s critically important that you know how your former employer will respond to reference requests. Will they share the details of how your employment ended or will they simply confirm your employment dates and job duties? Once you know this information, you can present your situation in the most accurate and positive light possible. Bottom line: Don’t ever lie. If you are caught bending the truth, you can literally kiss the opportunity good-bye.
3. Find your confidence. An interview is your opportunity to sell yourself and your abilities to a potential employer. While you may be anxious to find a new job and put the whole situation behind you, it’s important that you take some time to sort through emotional issues before starting your job search in earnest. Remember, not every employee is a good fit for every employer. And it’s likely that the person conducting the interview gets that. While your interview prep will undoubtedly focus on how your last position ended, it’s equally important that you are ready to sell yourself and your abilities going forward. Dig deep and be passionate about your experiences and skill set. Know why they need you and then be prepared to demonstrate this by way of historical examples or a portfolio of your work.
4. List references from your former employer. One of the difficult parts of being fired is that it’s hard (and likely a bad move) to list your former supervisor as a reference. While this is certainly understandable, you can’t expect a potential employer to hire you without some ability to speak former management and co-workers. Perhaps your references can be pulled from a different department or area of the company. Worst case, perhaps someone in the Human Resources area or even a vendor with whom you worked closely can be an option. Regardless, it’s important that you gain their permission to serve as a “positive” reference. Unfortunately, many people agree to serve as references and then provide less than glowing reviews. For more information on this topic and what to do if you suspect it, check out my book, “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.”
5. Practice, Practice, Practice! Interview prep is always important, but interview prep after being fired is critical. Being fired is an emotional experience…and that’s okay. But keep in mind, no employer wants to hire you until you have healed, learned from the experience and are truly ready to prove to the world that you are back! Consequently, you must practice your explanation of why you are no longer at your previous job. The ability to choose your words easily and state them in a matter of fact tone during your interview portrays confidence and professionalism. And your practice doesn’t end with the explanation. In the words of Melody Carlock, President of Resume Muse, “good interview preparation shows how you can do one (if not all three) of the following things: Show how you can make them money; save them time or make the boss look good.”
6. Hire an Interview Coach. If you have hit the wall and are really struggling with interview prep after being fired, you needn’t go it alone. There are literally thousands of professional coaches that specialize in this realm. While most charge a modest fee, can you really put a price on regaining your self-confidence and finding that next stop in your career? A simple internet search with the keyword “interview coaching” with your city/state will net you a place to start the conversation.
In summary, prepare; sleep well; dress for success and relax. I promise…the interviewer wants you to do well! Remember, they are investing some of their precious time because they saw something in you that peaked their curiosity. Now take a deep breath and knock’em dead!
What other interviewing tips have worked for you?