So I was unfortunately fired from my last job during probationary period and so far my approach in interviews for prospective employers has been to be upfront about it, I actually think it's best to just be honest. I just say I ended up not being a good fit.

Some people actually asks why I wasn't a good fit though, which is a bit tricky. I've no idea what to respond. I googled a bit and a lot of people recommends being upfront about what I got wrong. That's a great and very mature approach but I wonder if it's really practical, which is the only thing that really matters right now.

Admitting to mistakes is obviously more practical than badmouthing my employer or deflecting blame, that's for sure.

But I was wondering what's the best middle ground. I'm sure talking about something I did wrong that they wouldn't want in their company isn't good, even if I claim I learned from the experience. So I was wondering what's a better solution, and I really need tips from you guys.

So far I've been going with it was a big company with a lot of procedures and bureaucracy which I'm not used to at all, and that's the main thing that caused me not to be a good fit, specially if applying to a startup, but I think that implies that it was a behavioral problem or I couldn't adapt so I want to come up with a better approach. I'm a software developer by the way.

I'm told to be honest about what happened a lot so that's what I'll go with. What really happened is actually the version that I'm giving at the moment, it was a big company with more processes and rules and I only ever worked at startups, so I wasn't a good fit at all. What happened is a longer story but I think that's a good way to sum it up, and to be fair it's also a bit watered down. I was wondering how to put it so it doesn't come across as a behavioral problem or me not wanting to adapt because that's obviously very bad.

  • "it was a big company with a lot of procedures and bureaucracy which I'm not used to at all" Change "not used to" to "not comfortable with, as a pragmatically minded individual", maybe ... – pmf Nov 27 '17 at 12:41
  • @pmf Isn't that worse in a way? It could sound like I didn't want to adapt I think. Not used to implies that I had no experience working like that and the interviewer can figure out that my previous company didnt help or give me time to adapt, while I'm not explicitly blaming them. – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 12:45
  • @JoeStrazzere That's a fair point but to be honest as long as they can't know I wouldn't mind lying, and they'd have a bit of a hard time contacting my previous company as their only contact number is an outsourced call center 😆. But you're right it's actually relevant. The version I'm giving is a watered down version of the truth, me not being used to bureaucratic corporate environments is actually what happened. So as it is now I'm actually being honest. – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 12:47
  • @JoeStrazzere Just did. I can't believe I didnt think of that before. Thanks. – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 13:15
  • I just edited the main post guys. By the way for the people downvoting, could you please leave a comment saying what's wrong? – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 13:24

Assume that they know, or they'll find out. If you tell them something that turns out not to be the case, they'll cut you loose without a backward glance. You cannot lie, or bluff, or downplay your part in your firing.

If they ask, tell them what happened. Take ownership of your problem and demonstrate that you've learned from this experience. Be humble and be clear about how you're not going to let yourself fall into the same trap as before.

Be polite, be professional. Do not bad-mouth your previous employers - however tempting this is, it'll be taken as you trying to distract the problem from yourself (plus, it's a bad thing to do anyway).

  • If they know it's because they talked to my manager, who would probably give a version that's wayy worse than what really happened, so in that case that job application would be hopeless. I just hope they don't find his number. Other than that I'd never bad mouth my previous employers or make it sound like I'm shifting blame, but don't you think it's a bit naive to be fully honest and hope they appreciate it? I'd obviously be sabotaging myself, compared to watering it down a bit and still sounding honest. To be honest I want it to sound like it's no big deal without saying that explicitly. – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 13:21
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    @MockingOdist Trying to make it sound like no big deal is probably a mistake. That makes it sound unlikely that you would seen any need to change anything, and therefore the potential employer has to worry that there will be a repetition. It may be better to talk about what you have learned and changed as a result of the experience. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 27 '17 at 14:15
  • @PatriciaShanahan That's a fair point but isn't it a bit naive? I mean if I claim to have done something bad they probably won't overlook it even if I'm honest and claim I learned the lesson... On the other hand, I could give a watered down version that makes me look better and still say that I learned from it and want to get better. Maybe that way they'd figure out that that company fired me without a real reason without me saying it and I still look like I learned from that. I'm sorry but I'm really scared of not finding another position. – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 14:21
  • @MockingOdist It sounds like you had a disagreement with your manager and things ended up with you losing the job. How about just explaining that in a calm way? Explain what happened, what went wrong, and perhaps what you would do differently. Don't worry about them contacting your ex-manager. If they want to do that, you can't stop them. But if you explain things professionally, they probably won't bother. – Brandin Nov 27 '17 at 14:24
  • @Brandin It wasn't a disagreement. If asked he'd say I had an attitude problem and wasn't interested in trying to do well, which is what he felt, even though he didn't work with me, didn't talk to me about his concerns, and ignored me when I asked him for feedback. – MockingOdist Nov 27 '17 at 14:30

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