Instead, we recommend that you gloss over this portion of the interview, focusing more on what’s to come than what happened in the past. You “left” your previous employer (this isn’t a lie), and that’s really all that matters at this point. Briefly state that your last job wasn’t a good fit, and explain why you feel that the position you’re applying for is more in line with your interests. For example, if you were fired from a reality TV desk and are trying to break into scripted, you would simply say, “I left because it wasn’t a good fit for me, as I am more passionate about scripted television.” Even if you are applying for another similar job, you can still use this tactic – just find some type of difference between the two companies, and focus on what the new company has that the old one is missing. In the reality TV situation, maybe you like the new company’s shows better or have heard things about the company culture that seem more appealing than your previous office environment. If you were fired, something clearly wasn’t working out, so figure out what that was and pivot away from it.
Seems simple enough, right? But you’re probably still worried that the employer is going to find out that you were fired and think you were lying. Again, you aren’t lying by saying you “left” (just don’t say that you “quit” when you were actually asked to leave). But, unless they knew that you were fired before the interview (maybe a friend passed your resume along and explained the situation), they’re probably not going to find out unless they have a friend at the previous company that they call for a reference. You can get ahead of this by providing a list of references of people who know you well and can vouch for you as an employee. The fact that you were fired may or may not come up during a reference check, but if you’re listing the right reference, they’ll describe the situation in a way that presents you in a positive light, suggesting that your previous firing was a fluke or isn’t relevant to the new position. Or they might not mention it at all. Once you have an offer, you’re home free. Even if it comes up during a background check, you can’t have an offer revoked because you told the new employer that you “left.” So remember, all hope is not lost if you get fired. Don’t get too discouraged, and definitely don’t give up on your goals – the right position is just around the corner!