I Was Fired at the End of My Probation | JobSearchTV.com

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains how to answer an interview question about why you were fired at the end of your probationary period.

When You’ve Been Made Redundant, Fired, Laid Off, RIF’d

Here’s the question.  “I was let go from my last job at the end of my 6-month probationary period.  How do I address this in future job applications andYou are fired interviews?”

There are 2 ways to do this; I would hope that you have you both of these as truthful answers and not just lie to people.

Here is answer number 1. “I was brought on (let’s say, on a contract to hire opportunity or I was hired as an employee with a six-month probation). At the end of 6 months, the work that I was needed for wasn’t necessary.  I was let go.  I can see where they viewed me as a temporary solution for the immediate need that they had.  I was let go at the end of the 6 months. ” That’s one way of answering.

Here’s what I can read between the lines – – maybe your performance wasn’t that good.  You are left there within the probationary period.  It is the way to respond to that.  “I was hired with a six-month probation.  The fact of the matter is I didn’t perform as well as I could have.  I made mistakes.  I have been thinking about this and working at it and I have taken their feedback to heart.  I can assure you that I have learned my lessons here to resolve the issues.  I am now ready to roll.”

That’s the 2nd version how to answer that question where you did screw up.  You can’t deny it because they are going to background check you so pretending like there was no problem whatsoever won’t work.  If there were problems, you have to acknowledge them, indicate you formed your lessons and move on. 

Staying Relevant


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter | Job CoachJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. He is hired to provide No BS Career Advice globally. That can involve job search, hiring staff, management, leadership, career transition and advice about resolving workplace issues. Schedule a discovery call at my website, www.TheBigGameHunter.us

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16 Responses
  1. Tom Coleman

    yes! honesty is best. Also good to practice with real people several times. I found this motivates me to do things that I will be proud to share, like “I’ve been practicing giving status reports, and prioritizing tasks to build up those critical habits”

    1. Jeff Altman

      Actually, they are a result of a company trying to hedge against their inability to interview good people.

    2. MrPl0xygen

      @Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter Hence again, dodging bullets so they can get away with corporate greed.

    3. Jeff Altman

      +MrPl0xygen OK, we disagree on the interpretation of the behavior. We agree on the outcome.

    4. Jeff Altman

      @MrPl0xygen OK, we disagree on the interpretation of the behavior. We agree on the outcome.

  2. Belief Builder

    lol ya right. being 100% honest is a nice trait, but not ALWAYS smart. if you say you were let go because of poor performance, no employer will hire you. get real. you need to get more “creative” with that answer.

    1. Jeff Altman

      Like I said, don’t you think they’re going to do a background check? Of course, they will. Some will go so far as use a backdoor to talk to folks, rather than send a formal request.

    2. joe caterman

      @Jeff Altman a lot of companies will only give start and leave dates… they won’t go into specifics of leaving. But they may. It depends how you want to hedge your bets. Honesty is a good trait… but if you’re up against competition and you tell them you made mistakes… you’re not getting the job, full stop. In any case, quite often performance is subjective. I could run a company and tell a new employee I want a 60,000 page book written everyday. If they cannot do it.. boom! Nonperformance! I had jobs where I worked there fine for a number of year and then suddenly they moved the goal posts and the job became impossible… I’ve been on disciplinary for poor performance and had to jump before getting fired. Did I tell my new employer? Absolutely NOT! Did I get the job? Why yes! If you got fired for misconduct… well, that is a different matter entirely! Its an employers duty to reveal that information… especially if it involves anything that could be a danger or includes theft of any kind…. but poor performance? I’d rather it get found out and I be rejected after getting a foot in the door than just looked over because I said I made some mistakes when the other guy didn’t mention that. Would you buy a car after reading a bad review… even if the review might be highly subjective… no you’re not going to buy! Human’s buy on emotion and then use logic and reason to justify their purchase. If you put a downer on that emotion during an interview… forget the job, it’s gone!

    3. Jeff Altman

      @joe caterman In cases like yours, I might say something like, “Let me ask you a question. What would you do if your boss announced a radical change in their expectations? ” Management has decided you need to write a . . . ” You get the idea. You put the interviewer in your shoes . . . and you have reference who will substantiate

    4. joe caterman

      @Jeff Altman Its a good idea… might work. Its rational. However, I still say employment is a murky business. An employer will always place themselves in the shoes of your last employer normally, because that is who they will readily identify with. There are sooo many awful employers and work environments… they’re awful in their own special way. Often one place will get all the things right the other employer got wrong… but then make their own mistakes and get a bunch of stuff wrong the last employer got right. In my last job I used to see this guy across the way in another company at break… he was being bullied and treated really badly by his ceo who was also refusing to pay him money he was owed by the company. Fact is employers are every bit as fallible as the employee… and yet it is not the way a prospective employer will see it. I still say its better to keep applying until you get a break… then paint over the negative experience with more employment. Honesty is a good trait for sure, but it is not always the best policy if you want to get ahead. People are suspicious and if you give them ANY reasons to doubt you, they will.

    5. Jeff Altman

      Everyone lies in the job search process. Job hunters exaggerate their abilities; employers never discuss the last 4 people who sat in that seat all quit and why. Then there are recruiters who either are the messenger of the lies or who overtly lie.

    6. Yoshi

      Don’t tell the enployer anything. Let them figure it out on their own and if they choose to let you go so be it

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