Mid-managers and executives get fired for lots of reasons. Some are legitimate for performance reasons and some firings are completely unjustified. Regardless of the reason for being let go, there are solid methods for communicating the circumstances without hurting your candidacy with potential future employers.
Here are three solid steps you can take to have successful interviews after being fired.
Step #1 – Give yourself time to decompress
This is the most important step you can and will take. If you have lost your job most likely you will go through a grieving process – similar to other significant life-losses we all experience. If you interview prematurely, you may inadvertently “wear your grief” and/or find yourself unable to talk about your last employer with the kind of convincing detachment and discretion you will need to keep interviewers focused and excited about the value you offer them.
What if you need to begin to interview right away? To speed up your “grieving process” while still honoring that time cycle, take a ceremonial weekend vacation, book a round of golf, take a spa day or a family picnic by the lake. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s fun and relaxing because this is your decompression time…just for yourself! Title your outing: “Your Ceremonial Moving On.” This is a physical process that evokes very real physical and mental benefits.
I have seen this “Moving-On Ceremony” work wonders with my clients and I promise it will work for you too. In fact, I have used it myself. When I left my last employer my husband threw me a congratulatory dinner and I bought myself a big decadent slice of carrot cake, stuck and candle in it and we spent the evening talking about the future. It was wonderful!
Step #2 – Identify your allies
You want to contact any and all allies you have and had with your last company. These can include past colleagues, people that worked for you, key executives, clients and vendors. Anyone that can attest to your strengths, your attributes and anything positive. In applicable cases, those individuals who can diplomatically hint that there were problems beyond your control with your last company can be especially helpful. Remember, references can be provided by lots of other people besides your past “boss.”
Step #3 – Prescript a BRIEF, but clear, statement
Develop a brief statement about the reason you were fired and practice saying it. You can use it in your upcoming interviews. Keep it short, simple and clear. Here is an example:
“Unfortunately, I had no choice but to leave my last employer.
When I originally took the position, I was excited about________.
At first blush, it seemed that their recent merger was going well. I had no idea there was such internal animosity amongst management. Perhaps in my excitement about the opportunity I missed the subtle signs. If I were to interview for another merger situation, I would certainly know what questions to ask. Now I am focusing my attention on moving forward and I am quite excited to be here to talk with you about your corporation’s goals.”
No matter what you “say,” the secret is to be positive, bold and forward-thinking. Your interviewers will focus on whatever you shine the spot light on, so keep your attention on them, their challenges and how you can help.
Using these three steps, you can easily turn a situation you may be worrying about into a non-issue. Remember, too, many people who have been fired are afraid that they will have to make big sacrifices in order to land their next position. But most of the time this is simply not the case. Use the situation to reflect on whatever can be learned from it, use these powerful techniques to minimize any damage and simply move on!