How to Tell Your Interviewer You Were Fired

The interview is going great—you ace every question, have a great rapport with the interviewer, and are pretty much perfect for the job. But then, your prospective employer asks about your last position and why you weren’t there very long. Memories of a company shakeup and a newly minted (but hardly qualified) boss showing you the door flash through your mind. Yeah, you were fired. But does the interviewer really need to know that?

The answer is yes. If you lie, it’s going to come up eventually. They might ask for a reference. Or that lie could lead to six or seven more. And that’s not how you want to start a new job.

Now that you know you have to tell your interviewer you were fired, how do you go about doing that?

Accept That You Were Fired

You were fired. It happens. The first step of telling any future interviewer you were fired is accepting it yourself. Being able to view that event objectively, not subjectively. Realize that, in all likelihood, nobody was out to get you. Whether it was a mismatch of personalities that led to a less than stellar workplace environment or the simple fact that you didn’t yet have the skills for the job.

Regardless of reason, the important thing is that you’re okay with it. You don’t want to go into interviews complaining about how terrible your boss was or how nobody liked you. That makes you look like a drama-prone employee. Plus, if you complain about your last boss, how does your interviewer know you won’t end up whining about them in the future? Settle your emotions so that you can talk calmly about your firing without all of that emotional baggage.

Focus on What You Learned

Most interviewers don’t want to hear complaints about your previous boss. They want to hear about how the firing affected you as an employee. Which means you should focus on what you learned from the event. Make sure to portray yourself in a positive light. If you were fired for your workplace behavior, you should have made changes. Maybe you learned that the company culture wasn’t for you, or you weren’t right for the night shift. Just make sure that you learned something, and that you’re a stronger job candidate because of it. Turn your firing into a good thing, something that highlights newfound strengths.

Just Tell Them

Be confident and honest. Those are qualities most everyone can agree are great to have in a candidate. Interviewers know acknowledging you were fired isn’t easy. But doing so demonstrates your character. So just tell them. Let them know what you learned, how you’re a better employee, and avoid mentioning anything negative about your previous boss. The thing is, the person who’s sitting in front of the interviewer now isn’t the same you who was fired from your previous job. You’re different. You’ve learned things. Show your potential employer that.


Have you ever had to tell an interviewer you were fired?  How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!






Age Discrimination in the Job Search

The job search involves plenty of rejection—most of us have experienced it to some degree. Unless a particular interview question stumped you, it’s usually difficult, if not impossible, to know why you didn’t get the job. However, when you’re over a certain age, there’s a chance another factor is at play.

Maybe they said you were overqualified even though you knew the position was a stretch for you. Or perhaps they asked extensively about your computer skills, and didn’t seem to believe your answers. It’s even possible one of your friends worked for the company, and you knew for a fact it came down to you and one other applicant with the same skillset as you. But they were younger.

Age discrimination in the job search is a problem. As reported by Workforce, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, age discrimination complaints have risen dramatically in recent years. In fact, “between 1997 and 2007, 16,000 to 19,000 annual complaints were filed, compared to 20,000 to 25,000 filings per year since 2008.”

In the face of such odds, finding a job can seem hopeless. After all, you can’t change your age—it’s a part of who you are. So what can you do?

Revise Your Resume

If you aren’t getting interviews and think it may be due to your age, remove any graduation dates from your resume. Although this can be a minor red flag to potential employers, it’s better than being completely discounted because of your age.

Next, only put the last 10 – 15 years of work history on your resume. Everything else has to go. This work experience is what is relevant, and best reflects your current skills. Your older work experience is by no means worthless, but the lessons you learned in those positions are hopefully reflected in more current job responsibilities. Most importantly, listing such a long job history can make your age more obvious.

But what if you haven’t been in the workforce for a number of years? This is a common problem faced by stay-at-home parents, individuals that suffered long-term illnesses, and those who spent years taking care of sick friends or relatives. One thing you can do is retool your resume to focus on accomplishments. Make a functional resume that centers on skills and abilities first and the companies you worked for second. This can help the reader focus on what you are capable of as a worker rather than when you last held employment.

Train Up

Various certifications or degrees make sense for certain jobs. If you want to apply for a job requiring special training, make sure to get the required education. If you’re already competing with other applicants based on age, you don’t want to compete with them on education as well.

Online Profiles

If you are applying for a professional position, you might want to create a account. LinkedIn is the go-to networking tool for professionals. Research what a LinkedIn profile account should look like (you will need a professional headshot, as well as a well-formatted online resume).

You also may want to consider creating (or, if you already have one, updating) your Facebook account. Employers like to see that you have a life outside of work, one that supports their mission and values. You can also set certain restrictions on what people view on your Facebook page.

Interview Honestly

Hopefully your updated resume got you in the door. Now is your chance to shine. When you meet face-to-face, it’s obvious that you’re older. But still avoid actually mentioning your your age. Steer clear of dates as well.

Let them know why you’re right for the job. Talk about moments when you successfully delivered measurable results, not stories about how many years of experience you have. Your experience should come through in your accomplishments. Some employers stereotype mature applicants as being “tech-challenged,” so, if you have experience with technology, find an opportunity to mention that as well.

Use a Recruiter

If none of the above works? Consider a recruiting service. Because of their connections to local businesses, recruiters know about jobs you might never hear about. They’re experienced with helping others in your same situation. Their services are often free, so using a recruiting service can basically be two times the job search power for zero extra cost.

Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa, and can help out with these kinds of problems. If you have any questions about your job search, feel free to contact your local Express office or fill out our online contact form.


Have you been discriminated against because of your age? If so, were you able to work around it to find employment? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Stop Procrastinating

The job search is rarely fun. You’re sitting in one place with a computer screen as your only companion, sometimes for hours at a time. It can get disheartening. Which is part of the reason so many people just quit looking.

And even if you don’t completely give up on the job search, it’s easy to fall prey to procrastination. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Wikipedia, random news websites—they’re all just a few clicks away. And your cellphone ensures that friends and family are possible distractions.

When it comes to job searching, ordinarily productive activities can become dangerous distractions.  Maybe you’d rather do the laundry, cook dinner, or clean the bathroom than job search. You have to be careful with breaks too—a short walk can turn into a long stroll if you don’t time it.

Here are a few tips to help you deal with procrastination during the job search or anything else you’re having trouble concentrating on.

Clean Your Space

What does your desk or workplace look like? Is it neat and organized or could it use a good cleaning? If you thrive in a messy environment, that’s great! However, as noted by, a study conducted by the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute says that “multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation.” This means that as the amount of “stuff” in your workspace increases, your brain needs to work harder to focus on any one thing.  So get rid of that clutter and clear your head!

Eliminate Future Distractions

Are you a coffee drinker? A music lover? Make sure to put on a fresh pot and pick out your song selection for the day before you start job searching. That way you won’t waste valuable time looking for the perfect song or brewing another pot. If you eliminate these distractions, it’s easier to stay on task.

Get a Concentration Aid

What else do coffee and music have in common? They help you concentrate! If there’s something out there that helps you concentrate, use it. This can differ for everyone. Some people like coffee, others don’t. Music helps some people concentrate, while it distracts others. It’s even possible your secret sauce is listening to ambient nature noises or twirling a fidget spinner. It might even be something specific to you, like pictures of your friends or family. Whatever it is, find it and use it.

Take (Timed) Breaks

Eventually the job search gets boring. Applications start to blend together and you’d rather do anything else than fill in your job history for the umpteenth time. When it gets to this point, it might be time to take a break. Try to do something that involves a bit of exercise, like walking around the house or doing a set of stretches. Just make sure to keep it to ten minutes or less.

Start with the Hardest Task First

When you’re looking for a job, you might be tempted to wait a bit on the longer applications and start out with the one-click apps. However, this might be doing your productivity a disservice. Those easier apps frequently have a lower rate of employer response on them (since so many people are applying), and longer applications are associated with higher quality companies. So start with the longer applications, and sprinkle a few easier ones in between as breathers.

Have you ever dealt with a procrastination problem? If so, how did you fix it? Let us know in the comments below!