Why were you fired? How do you handle conflict? Why did you jump from job to job? These questions can trigger anxiety in anyone that is asked these questions. They are difficult to answer because they are difficult situations! Without proper preparation through honest reflection prior to your interview, these questions can either help or hurt you in your pursuit of a position. Follow these tips to emphasize your positive traits, despite your times in these negative situations.


How did you resolve conflicts in your previous positions?

The trick to this question is to turn the negative undertone into an opportunity to showcase a positive trait about you. Employers want to know that you can handle conflicts maturely and not add to the negative situation as well. The traits that you can showcase is your ability to remain respectful towards difficult co-workers, encouraging and understanding towards co-workers that have hit a rough patch, or your ability to improve morale by addressing underlying issues, such as a lack of connection between co-workers. Recall a time where you transformed conflict into understanding to help move the business forward.


Have you been fired?

If you’ve been fired from a position, this question may seem impossible for you to answer. Again, you can take the opportunity here to display positive qualities! No one is perfect, but everyone can progress. Being fired from a position is an opportunity to learn about yourself and others. Do not hide the fact that you were fired or try to place blame. Answering this question is not your opportunity to defend yourself for what happened in the past. Instead, this question is the opportunity for you to showcase your ability to be accountable, self-aware, and motivated to grow. Put more focus on what you’ve done since then to grow and share some examples of how you’ve handled yourself differently in the present.


Why have you jumped from job to job in the last 5 years?

There are many ways to look at a situation. The reason that caused you to jump from job to job may be due to a variety of factors within your control, as well as outside of your control. Be honest about your reasons and convey what your goals are now. Align your goals with how you feel the company can provide that stability for you. Employers want to hire people who know what they want and are goal oriented. This way, they can feel assured that you are in it for the long haul.


The important messages to convey in all interview questions is that you can be accountable – that you do not look for places to place blame and that you know what you want; you are goal and action oriented. These interview questions are meant to be difficult as they draw on difficult times in your employment history. Reflect on these times and draw out the positives that you gained and communicate that to the interviewer. For more resources on tough questions like these, pick up books like, “Perfect Phrases for the Perfect Interview” by Carole Martin.