March 17, 2019 at 7:11 am #2614JeffAltmanCoachKeymaster
Today, I’m going to do one of those tough interview questions, those questions that are designed to make you squirm and feel uncomfortable because they hit a nerve.
It doesn’t have to be exactly this wording to it and it’s not really a question but it brings up a sore spot. And the comment that a firm may pose is, “It looks like you’ve been fired twice.” Now, the implied question is, “What’s wrong with you? Why were you the one that gets fired twice?” Because people normally don’t get fired twice or I’m going to go back to even more humbling framework. “Good people don’t get fired twice.”
Now, the way you respond to this is fairly direct. You acknowledge, “Yeah, I’ve been fired twice and it was awful! Because it was never a question of my own performance. I got great reviews. I’ve got a couple of reviews I can send to you because, when I left, I asked for my reviews just as a way of illustrating that there’s no problem with my performance. I can show you; I can send those to you, if you like. But the fact of the matter is, employees in our country are, sometimes, fired and it has nothing to do with their performance. It has to do with the business unit performance.
“I worked in sales (So I’m going to go down a couple of decision trees here). I worked in sales, I always hit my numbers and exceeded my numbers. But, other people didn’t. Or, for example, “you know, the role I was in was heading up a function that they decided wasn’t core to the business. As a result, there wasn’t a place to reassign me. I was among the people who were let go at that time.” Or, if I was a staff level individual, “I was asking
do certain things. I did them. I exceeded any benchmark that they gave me by far. And, yet when business suffered, Of course I was let go. I’m sure you’ve seen countless cases of good people getting let go by organizations as part of re-organizations and that’s really what happened to me.” Then, from there, you go into in the past. “I’ve landed very good situations, better than the ones I was in at the time and, in many respects, they were a blessing to me. I was lucky because I would have continued working there, missing out on some great opportunities. But, yes, it’s true I was let go and you know, I’ve landed very well.” I don’t have the exact language but you close it out by saying something like this:
“I hope we have a chance to see one another more frequently.”
“I hope we have the opportunity to work with one another more often because, frankly, this seems like a great opportunity.”
You tie it together in some way that spontaneously just doesn’t come to me right now. But the idea is you acknowledge the layoffs, that you were a high performer, business situations change and, at the level that you’re at, when those changes occur, you’re among the people that gets let go.
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