(Closed) How to explain why you were fired without sounding defensive

posted 6 years ago in Career
Post # 3
2622 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

How does it come up?

Do they ask why you left the last job? If they dont explicitly ask if you were fired, then I would say something along the lines of “There were communication problems between you and the boss that made doing the job incredibly difficult”

Post # 5
2106 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

“I didn’t feel I was a good fit at my last company.” 


“I was let go.” And why were you let go? “The manager cited my quality of work. I am extremely eager to demonstrate that my work is of the utmost quality.” 

Post # 6
9674 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

@MrsBroccoli:  That’s so perfect.  I’ve been racking my brain. 

OP:  The most important thing to remember is remain positive and put a positive spin (while still being honest) on everything. 

Post # 7
420 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

@MrsBroccoli:  +1  I think the not being a good fit is a perfect thing to say! 🙂


@OP: If you need to elaborate, that’s when you can say what @ThreeMeers suggested about communication problems.  Good luck!  Finding a job is not easy in this economy, but I’m sure you can do it! 🙂

Post # 8
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@MrsBroccoli:  +1 for the “Not a good fit” reason.

OP, your situation is just like my former supervisor and me. I’ve gotten glowing references and reviews from other managers, but the former one and I just didn’t work out – at all. I always just say that the position was not a good fit for me and usually they don’t ask to elaborate. If they do, you can turn it into something like it wasn’t in line with your future career goals, etc. Never blame the company or the supervisor and never go into details as to what happened. Keep it semi-vague.

In addition, when potential employers call your references at companies, they *usually* ask generic questions, such as verification of the time you worked there and salary information. They *usually* do not go into issues like why you were let go and whatnot. Usually whoever ends up speaking to them is not the manager her/himself anyway and in this economy, there’s always the chance a former manager is now at another company.

Post # 9
1917 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I would just say that it wasn’t a good fit.  They’re not going to know that you were fired from your last job.  In this economy, lots of people get laid off due to budgetary issues.

Post # 10
11167 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

@lilbluebird:  They *usually* do not go into issues like why you were let go and whatnot.

Very true.

Correct me if I am wrong legal bees but I was told by a former boss and HR person that it isn’t allowed to go into details. That all you can do is basically confirm that someone was employeed and their current status (still employeed, no longer there etc). To advise anything further can put you into a tricky legal situation (again what I was told).

Post # 11
3625 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

@Treejewel19:  I’m not sure about the legality of it all but that sounds right to me. My current employer actually relies on the outside background check company to do all the reference checks and they document what was asked, who they spoke to, and what the response was on the background check paperwork. They literally spoke to the accounting department (not my manager) and confirmed length of employment and salary history, nothing else. I assume most other major corporations have Legal and HR departments that are cognizant of employment law.

Post # 12
1330 posts
Bumble bee

I have done countless reference checks and it depends on the reference. I have flat out had references tell me NOT to offer the candidate a job because they are a nightmare and then go into a detailed response why.

References need to be taken with a grain of salt. We headhunted an up and comer out of a big bank and put him with a leasing company. The big bank let him go on the spor and refused to give a reference…which was tough on him since he was counting on the manager to give one and ten they refused…were pissed.

Managers are not supposed to give references that could be deemed as discrimination of any kind. Employers are so afraid of lawsuits that often they are instructed to simply verify employment and reason for leaving.


Post # 13
942 posts
Busy bee

@Treejewel19:  I am the employment lawyer at my company and that is correct, at least in practice.  Under our company policy, our HR folks are only allowed to verify that the employee worker here, for what time period, and their current status. 

There are no federal laws restricting what information an employer can disclose about former employees. If you were fired or terminated from employment, the company can say so. They can also give a reason. That said, because of laws regarding defamation (which is slander or libel) companies (like mine) are usually careful about what information they provide to hiring managers confirming employment or checking references. What they say has to be the truth or the company can be subject to a lawsuit from the former employee. Legally, they can say anything that is factual and accurate.

Concern about lawsuits is why most employers only confirm dates of employment, your position, and salary.

However, state labor laws vary, so you can look at your state labor department webiste for information on state labor laws that limit what employers can disclose about former employees.  Several of the states in which my company operates have a anti-blacklist statute so we have to be very careful about what we disclose. 

You can check with your former employer and ask what information they will give out when they get a call to verify your work history. If they do give out more information than the basics, what they say may be negotiable and it can’t hurt to ask.

I hope this info help!

Post # 15
337 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@Treejewel19:  I work in payroll for a large hospital and sometimes have to fill out forms saying whether or not the person works here anymore. They always ask “reason for termination” and we are told to always put “other” whether they quit, got fired, etc. They never ask about it either. As far as the ones that call previous employers, Im sure they spill the beans.

The topic ‘How to explain why you were fired without sounding defensive’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors