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What To Say


What do you do when you were released from your last job and are now interviewing for a new job and the inevitable questions arises “Why are you in the job market”?  In this particular situation this isn’t an easy question to answer but I truly believe the more honest the better.  Now, interviewers will not want the low down dirty and you must refrain from going 60,000 feet deep when explaining the situation.  Do give them enough to assess why you are sitting in front of them and whether you would be a great addition to their team.

As you know I strongly believe in not fudging the truth on interviews because it will come back to bite you.  Once when I was completing a residency rotation through a healthcare company’s Human Resources Department, they were screening candidates for possible nursing positions.  One candidate’s resume came across the recruiter’s desk and the person had excellent credentials and the experience seemed to fit with the need.  She bought the candidate in for a face-to-face screen and she asked her why she was no longer at her former job.  The young lady proceeded to give an inaccurate picture of why she was no longer there which the recruiter documented.

Once the young lady left this recruiter KNEW people in Human Resources at the young lady’s former job and immediately called over there to find out the real scoop.  She was informed the young lady and another nurse were both fired for literally fist fighting in the parking garage on the premises.  No questions asked.  That immediately disqualified this young lady for an opportunity at this new job.  You never know who the people know you are sitting in front of and considering how tight the market is or rather the industry – it can be relatively small and everyone knows everyone.  So be careful and be as honest as you can without putting yourself in a corner if indeed the reason you were let go is due to something you did.

Here are some main reasons people are let go from their job.

Reduction in force (RIF):  The company has decided it does not require as many resources as it has and as a cost saving measure it reduces key personnel.  Typically it is the personnel with the higher salaries.  Typically it is the luck of the draw per se but if you are considered a low performer AND a high earner – that makes you an easy target for dismissal.

Sample response in interview:  I was laid off due to a reduction in force measure.  

Any potential employer can understand that especially in these day and times with this rough economy and job market.

Fired due to performance:  You are let go because you were put on probation or a PIP (performance improvement plan) and your performance did not improve.  When you hear you are getting on a PIP that is a warning shot in the air.  If you enjoy your job heed their warning and do what they ask you to do for the amount of time they ask you to do it.  Otherwise start looking for a new job.

Sample response in interview:  I am ready for a more challenging position as I have plateue’d in my current position and there are not that many opportunities for advancement. 

This does indicate to me that you may have gotten played out in your current position but as a hiring manager – I would still be willing to listen to the candidate to determine if they are a true fit for my team.

So there you have it.  There are so many special cases I can’t list them all here but this gets you started and hopefully you have an idea of how to really assess how you will respond to this inevitable question when it is interview time.  If you have a specific question you want me to feature here on the blog anonymously then click ASK DIATTA in the menu above and we will make that happen.


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