Help me put on positive spin on getting fired

Okay, about a month ago, I was fired from my job as a mortgage processor. The work itself was fine, but I didn’t fit in in the office, I hated my coworkers, I hated being there, and I guess they could tell. When I made a potentially big mistake (it ended up not being an issue), I got axed. I’m pretty sure it was just an excuse to get me out of there. That industry had been slowing down and there was less and less to do probably had something to do with it and I was the newest employee probably had something to do with it too (I only worked there for five months).

So, tomorrow I have an interview for a processor position, and they’re going to probably ask me why I “left” my job without another job lined up. I don’t know how to deal with this, I’ve never been fired before.

When I was let go, the HR director made it clear to me that he wouldn’t tell any prospective employers anything that would make it difficult for me to be employed. But he’d probably still tell them I didn’t exactly leave of my own volition, right?

Can anyone help me think of a nice way to deal with this?


In order to avoid civil suits, all HR will generally tell anyone is your job title, your last day of work and the length of time that you worked there. I wouldn’t worry about that.

In the interview, I’d say that it was a mutally voluntary parting because the job/industry wasn’t a good fit for you. Explain why it wasn’t a good fit and how you’re much better suited for the new job.

Best of luck,

If you were in fact the juniormost person, and you weren’t replaced as far as you know (and who says you have to call and check?), then tell them you were essentially laid off.

They were shrinking (true). They needed one less person (true). You were newest, least experienced, therefore least productive(true enough). So you were chosen for the sacrifice. Now if you’re interviewing for another job doing the exact same work you’ll have to pitch that last point carefully.

And despite what I said above, you do want to acknowledge that it wasn’t a good social fit. As you said, you did the work just fine but didn’t fit into their clique. Most of HR these days is not about assessing qualifications, but about assessing fit. Some good workers just don’t fit some good companies. And no good worker fits a bad company.

So assuming you’re otherwise easy-going in the interview it’ll be reasonable for the interviewer to decide the problem was them and you’re OK. The more gung-ho you are the better. But if you come across as a whiner, he/she will decide the problem was probably you. That’s not OK.

I completely agree with LSLGuy. Simply say you were laid off due to downsizing. If they ask how you felt about the previous job, or whether you would say you were a good employee there, you could be somewhat candid and say that you didn’t feel the company was a good match for you and explain why. However, I probably wouldn’t elaborate on the previous job unless they ask about it. As hajario said, companies almost never say anything bad about former employees out of fear of lawsuits (which I think is sad), so you don’t really need to worry about that.

I have no HR experience. Everything that follows is from personal observation. With that said…

“I was the newest employee, and I was laid off because business slowed down."

I don’t recommend lying if you’re bad at it, but bad-mouthing your past employer, and certainly all of your past coworkers, is pretty much the kiss of death. Every company has bad managers and bad coworkers, including the one you are applying with. For example, you might explain that your last boss was detail-crazy and always looking over your shoulder. If your new boss is the same type of person, you’re sunk.

If you must tell the truth, identify the types of people you like working with and the type of office environment you want to work in. In the interview, you might say, “I’m an extroverted person, and it took me awhile to figure out that I need social interaction at work to feel happy.” This is a gamble; if your new company has the same environment as your old company, you’re sunk. On the upside, what’s the point of lying if you end up working with the same types of people again?

Finally, here’s a general tip. If you are being interviewed in an office, find an object in the office that is interesting and ask the interviewer to explain it. For example, you walk into the office, and you see a picture of a dog. Ask the interviewer if that’s his or her dog, how old the dog is, what’s the dog’s name, etc. Every time I’ve had a lengthy, informal conversation with the interviewer, I’ve gotten the job.

Good luck by the way!

When I was let go, the HR director made it clear to me that he wouldn’t tell any prospective employers anything that would make it difficult for me to be employed.

Just personal observation here …

If the HR director went out of his way to tell you this, don’t believe a word of it. I have seen way too many people get screwed over because they trusted their former boss, who assured them they wouldn’t say anything bad. HR departments have lawyers, you’re broke and need a job. There’s not a thing in the world you can do about it if they badmouth you and keep others from hiring you, and they know it. Employers stick together, chances are you’d be turned down and they’d never tell you it was because HR at the former place told them a bunch of bad things.

From my experience with job interviews NEVER say anything negative about your former job or boss. The mortgage business is slowing down and anyone who reads the newspaper knows this. It is perfectly logical for you to say you were let go because they just didn’t need as many people, and you were the most junior. Otherwise, you liked the job fine. Unless the HR person is stupid he won’t say anything about the circumstances of your leaving. I would assume nothing will be said. If it is, what can you do anyway? And if they like you many times they don’t even call your former employer because unless they have some affiliation they know the drill: nothing negative will be said about you. Good luck.

Oy, I wish I’d read all of these before I went to the interview (it was this morning).

I interviewed well and they told me they’re going to make me an offer in the next day or two. I basically said that I was very unhappy there and that was why I left (well, it’s true, in an indirect way…). I don’t know if they’re going to check my references, but if what hajario says is accurate, my former HR guy won’t tell them I was fired.

Now I wish I’d told them I was laid off instead. I hope they don’t think I’m this horrible liar and decide not to make me the offer after all. Gah. I’m gonna be on pins and needles til I hear one way or another.

Well, if they said they’re “going to make you an offer”, then that sounds binding to me. If they weren’t sure and wanted to check,
they would have said something less absolute, no?

So - I won’t say MazelTov yet, lest I jinx you, but it sounds good!