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How to handle your first interview after being fired

Young man have job interview.

Young man have job interview.

There are two types of coaches, they say: those who have been fired and those who are about to be. The pink slip is, unfortunately, as much a part of the game as the green of the grass, the brown of the pigskin and the yellow penalty flags. Just ask four of the past five Super Bowl winning head coaches:

  • Gary Kubiak, a Super Bowl champion in Denver who was fired in Houston.
  • Bill Belichick, a four-time Super Bowl champion in New England who was fired in Cleveland.
  • Pete Carroll, the third college and professional champion who was fired in New England.
  • Tom Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl champion who was fired at Boston College and in Jacksonville.

The Harvard Business Reviewtackled the issue of jumping back into the workforce after the workforce tossed you out and, though much of the article doesn't parallel with the football world, this part does:

If you must discuss the situation, point the finger at yourself and explain three things you learned from the experience. For example, you might say: “I take full responsibility. And I learned three things from my mistake: One, I require seven hours of sleep to make good decisions. Back then I was making decisions on 4-5 hours of sleep. Two, I need to write down the decision and let it sit for 24 hours before I open my mouth. President Harry Truman used to do that and it worked well for him. I do that now. And three, I review my decisions with a mental image of my father and ask myself, ‘Would he be proud that I made this decision?’”

Doing this shows in specific terms that you’ve reflected on your mistakes, have made changes, and that you are helping the prospective employer manage the risk of hiring you. Saying vague things like, “I’ll never do that again” will not provide the necessary reassurance.

In an industry where 50 percent of the workforce walks away a loser every weekend, hiring people on the rebound from a dismissal is much more common than, say, the insurance game, and most head coaches, athletics directors and presidents will be willing to extend a second or third chance because someone else gave them a second or third chance along the way.

Getting fired won't keep you from getting a new job. Getting fired and not recognizing why you were fired while not taking steps to fix it will keep you from getting a second job.