Tough Interview Questions: It Looks Like You’ve Been Fired Twice |

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This isn’t actually a question. It is a statement an interviewer would make for you to respond to and explain. Here I offer multiple ways of addressing it.

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Today, I'm going to do one of those tough interview questions, those questions that are designed to make you squirm and feel uncomfortable because they hit a nerve.
It doesn't have to be exactly this wording to it and it's not really a question but it brings up a sore spot. And the comment that a firm may pose is, "It looks like you've been fired twice." Now, the implied question is, "What's wrong with you? Why were you the one that gets fired twice?" Because people normally don't get fired twice or I'm going to go back to even more humbling framework. "Good people don't get fired twice."
Now, the way you respond to this is fairly direct. You acknowledge, "Yeah, I've been fired twice and it was awful! Because it was never a question of my own performance. I got great reviews. I've got a couple of reviews I can send to you because, when I left, I asked for my reviews just as a way of illustrating that there's no problem with my performance. I can show you; I can send those to you, if you like. But the fact of the matter is, employees in our country are, sometimes, fired and it has nothing to do with their performance. It has to do with the business unit performance.
"I worked in sales (So I'm going to go down a couple of decision trees here). I worked in sales, I always hit my numbers and exceeded my numbers. But, other people didn't. Or, for example, "you know, the role I was in was heading up a function that they decided wasn't core to the business. As a result, there wasn't a place to reassign me. I was among the people who were let go at that time." Or, if I was a staff level individual, "I was asking
do certain things. I did them. I exceeded any benchmark that they gave me by far. And, yet when business suffered, Of course I was let go. I'm sure you've seen countless cases of good people getting let go by organizations as part of re-organizations and that's really what happened to me." Then, from there, you go into in the past. "I've landed very good situations, better than the ones I was in at the time and, in many respects, they were a blessing to me. I was lucky because I would have continued working there, missing out on some great opportunities. But, yes, it's true I was let go and you know, I've landed very well." I don't have the exact language but you close it out by saying something like this:
"I hope we have a chance to see one another more frequently."
"I hope we have the opportunity to work with one another more often because, frankly, this seems like a great opportunity."
You tie it together in some way that spontaneously just doesn't come to me right now. But the idea is you acknowledge the layoffs, that you were a high performer, business situations change and, at the level that you're at, when those changes occur, you're among the people that gets let go.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1400 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
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1 Response
  1. Owolabby Azeez

    If you were let go with a severance package, it’s more like you were “laid off” than “fired.” When many people hear “fired,” they tend to think “fired for cause,” which is associated with a serious infraction at the workplace. While losing a job in any capacity is demoralizing and can affect your self-esteem, the more you are out in the work force, the more you realize people lose their jobs all the time. The higher up the ladder you go, the more it is an expected risk with any job, and you actually become a desirable candidate when you’re a free agent again.

    For anyone reading I would try to word it that you mutually decided the position was not a good fit and that you learned a lot and stuck with it. People who are part of Human Resources Department and/or in charge of employment know this happens frequently in the workplace world. I would definitely quote anything in your written performance reviews that show your “strong upward trend” and include a reference or quotation from one of the managers with whom you had a great relationship, if possible. Spin it that you can take it on the chin and keep fighting, make it a positive experience. It might actually help your application much more than you think. Good luck to y’all reading this!

    I’d say it’s also important TO NOT LIE about the reasons you were fired, but you also don’t need to tell your next employer every detail about what happened. You don’t want to paint yourself in a bad picture for your next employer.

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