How to Answer: “Why Were You Let Go?”

Ask a Recruiter - Jobseeker Q&A

Ask a Recruiter

Q: Unfortunately I was terminated with an amicable agreement. Of course this stings. How do you answer these questions in an interview: Why were you let go? What was the situation?

A: Dear Terminated Amicably,

Every career journey will have its hiccups — your goal in an interview is to communicate these stories in a way that demonstrates growth and reflection. Whether you were laid off as part of reduction in force or terminated due to cause, focus on the positives. Try to pivot quickly from the bad news to whatever you’ve learned from the experience — without saying anything negative about your past employer.

Briefly acknowledge the circumstances: “Unfortunately, my position was eliminated” or “Unfortunately, that role didn’t work out long-term” followed by the positive spin that ties back to the job you’re interviewing for: “but, I was able to gain a lot of new skills that have prepared me to…” or “however, the experience helped me understand the value of…”

Remember that if you’ve been chosen for an interview, you’ve passed the first hurdle and the employer is already willing to look past any causes for concern!

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