Thursday, 18 February 2016
Here's what to say when a hiring manager asks, 'Have you ever been fired?'
Jacquelyn SmithIf you've ever been fired or asked to resign from a job, chances are it's not something you enjoy talking about ... especially with prospective employers during job interviews.
But if there are any gaps or red flags on your résumé, hiring managers will likely ask you about them — and it can be uncomfortable.
"Employers are often so swamped with job applicants, they're programmed to use a process of elimination mindset," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, leadership coach, and author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant." "And this can easily be one of the questions that keeps you off the shortlist — unless you plan ahead."
It's a classic query because your answer meets multiple objectives, she says. "So it's helpful to consider the reasons behind the question."
She says interviewers are often trying to determine four things:
1. Are you a risky hire? Hiring managers don't expect you to answer "no" to this question — unless you're at an entry or very junior level in your career. "They're trying to piece together 'the fit,' but also the risk factors of hiring you. For instance, have there been several terminations that suggest an issue or pattern? Do the reasons behind a termination underscore one of their fears — especially one that could be a deal breaker based on the requisite job duties?"
2. How you handle adversity. Your job interviewer is also trying to determine if you're able to shrug off setbacks and move forward. Nobody is immune from job challenges, Taylor explains. "In other words, do you view negative experiences as failures or learning opportunities?"
3. Your real time response to pressure. Do you become defensive or upset when they ask this question, or are you poised and confident when responding? "It can help a hiring manager evaluate how you handle real-time stress, presumed to be a predictor of how you'll handle job challenges," she says.
4. How honest are you? This is one of those interview litmus tests of how forthcoming you are, Taylor warns. "Savvy hiring managers can typically read job seekers. They may consider how long it takes you to respond, your intonation and body language, and whether you're being vague, evasive, or honest to a fault."
"So this question reveals much more about you than the answer itself," Taylor adds.