Here's How to Explain Being Fired for Performance

Amy Culver |
Amy is our Lead Copywriter at Snagajob, where she loves to use her word nerd powers to help workers and employers connect. Her first hourly job was as a cashier at Chick-fil-a.

Lori asks:

“I was fired for performance issues and was wondering how I could downplay this. When I am interviewing for a position the question arises as to why I left my last position. I normally say that I was terminated and I don’t go into the specifics with the interviewer. When they ask me why I was terminated I am not sure how to respond so it doesn’t make me look bad.”

Great question, Lori! Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s still a hard conversation to have. To explain how you lost your last job without it keeping you from getting the next one the key is to:

  1. Discuss what happened

  2. Talk about what you learned

  3. Explain why it won’t ever happen again

You have to be able to talk honestly and sincerely about why you were let go and be able to demonstrate how you’ve changed, otherwise employers will avoid hiring you to avoid a repeat of the same issue.

A couple of examples:

Fired for being late too many times?

Explain that you’ve learned the value of being on time, and talk about out how committed you’ve become to arriving at work on time each day – but first, prove it by showing up early to the interview.

Let go for poor job performance? 

Discuss how you learned the value of doing a great job, and how you take pride in your work now. Share an example from a volunteer project or personal event that shows your new-and-improved attention to quality.