What Do You Write On The Application… If You Were Fired?

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Sun, Jan 13 - 12:11 am EDT | 10 years ago by
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fired.jpgHere is a question asked by Drew Williams, one of my readers here at Interview Chatter:

The problem I’m having is that question is asked on the application, usually an online one, and you are screened out automatically. Do I answer “no” so I can get an interview and then explain everything then? I will have already been dishonest but I have to answer question or I won’t be able to finish application?

The the simple answer is to answer “yes” to this question on an application if you have been fired. Honesty is critical to you successfully navigating the hiring process. But what if the question on the application is, “why did you leave your last employer?

Here is another question asked by Kathleen Riley: 

The fear here is that the prospective employer will look at the reason for leaving – “termination” – and toss the application in the waste basket. How can a person – who did nothing wrong – write “let go” on an app and still project the image that she will be a good employee?

If you have an opportunity to say something other than “I was fired”, do so. My recommendation is to say on the application, “it was time for a change and/or I am looking for new opportunities.”

Once you have an opportunity to discuss your previous employment, you will want to discuss what happened. In that discussion you will want to speak from a place of accountability. If you were fired, say so and follow it up by saying, let me share what I learned from that experience.

What other suggestions do you have for jobseekers who have been terminated? Leave your response in as a comment below!

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  • Mary

    I have very recently been “let go” from a job I held for over 7 years, for making a serious error of judgement, where I was fired for mis-conduct with pay in lieu of notice (not gross mis-conduct) I am seeking a new position immediately and will be totally honest if I am fortunate enough to gain any interviews. I am 49 years old and have lost a good position and a great pension. My advice, just be more careful than I and think before you take any action ever, I will be back, my confidence is knocked, but nothing else, I made a mistake and so do lots of other people – am I appealing or considering taking legal action – you bet !!

    Good luck to all of you out there who have made a mistake ever, it is not one that I will ever repeat, but life goes on !

    • Janeen

      Good for you Mary!
      I hoped everything worked out for the best. Yeah, sometimes it happens…these jobs have no sense of loyalty, you working there for 7 years says to me that you were a competent, valuable employee and you goofed. were human
      But God speed anyway

    • mrs coco

      good for you Mary. I was also terminated from my job of 9 years and denied unemployment ,so i was force to take my retirement money out to live it’s been over a year haven’t been able to get a job , i know it’s. because of my age i am also 49 . good luck to you mary

  • MD

    What does one write – I would certainly like to know. I was just fired for “not being a good fit.” I am at a loss how to handle this – for being fired for the first time ever. Please post your responses – it would be very appreciated. Also, HR people please post comments on what you regard as acceptable in your opinion or your company’s rules.

  • http://http://mcdarling.tripod.com Darlene McDaniel

    Hi MD, Thank you for stopping by Interview Chatter tonight! I know that getting fired is a difficult thing. But as I wrote in the post, the only answer to the question if you have been fired is “yes”. Your follow-up response to the “yes” is equally important. If you were terminated because it was not a good fit, go back and evaluate that statement. What wasn’t working from their perspective? Obviously things were not going well in the organization. What clues did they give you that may give you insight on how they were feeling about you and/or your performance? If this is your first time getting terminated, it will not hinder you from getting a job in the future. Especially given the short time you were employed. How you communicate what happened will determine how long you are in the job market. You are welcome to contact me so we can discuss how you may want to aticulate to a hiring manager what happened in this situation. I am currently giving away free coaching sessions. Click here for more information: http://www.interviewchatter.com/need-a-career-coach/

  • Rebecca

    I am in the same particular situation. I was terminated after being employed with the organization for 9 months. I was a new employee. When I started working, the organization was having their annaul audit survey. There was no formal training. So Ihad to learn on my own or by asking questions. The reason for my termination given was inaccurate billing. I could not bill for certain services provided.Make a long story short, my supervisor at the time, who is now deceased, told me that I could bill for what I got terminated for. I believe in the utmost honesty and integrity. Everytime I fill out my application and asks about employment termination, how do I respond to this question?

  • Karen

    I hope everything worked out for you. I am wondering about what to do as well, though I’m also working at a second part-time job, so I could probably leave the original off (but worry someone will find out).

  • Joe Villeda

    I was interviewed and offered a job without filling out an application, the question of why I left my previous job did not come up. When asked to take the interviewer through my work history, I mentioned family concerns was my decision to move back to from another state.
    I now have to fill this application out. What should I write as to the reason I left my previous job?

  • Darlene McDaniel

    Hi Rebecca, As hard as it is to deal with, if you were terminated, you have to say you were terminated. Even if the termination was unjust. You are always welcome to explain the specific situation, but from a trust and integrity perspective, you get to tell the truth.


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