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What do you say when you get fired from a job?

Getting fired from a job can be an incredibly difficult and emotional experience. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions – from shock and denial to anger and resentment. While it’s important to process those feelings, it’s also critical to maintain composure and handle the termination meeting professionally.

How should you react when you’re fired?

When being let go, it’s understandable to feel angry, upset or want to vent. But avoid saying things you might later regret or that could damage relationships. Here are some dos and don’ts for how to react:

  • Do stay calm and composed. Avoid displaying anger or getting emotional.
  • Don’t make accusations or get confrontational with your employer.
  • Do ask clarifying questions about the reasons for termination if needed.
  • Don’t beg to keep your job or make desperate pleas.
  • Do express appreciation for the opportunities you’ve had.
  • Don’t burn bridges by making threats or hostile statements.

Remember that your reaction can influence things like references and reputation. Staying professional ensures the termination goes as smoothly as possible.

What should you say when you’re fired?

When being terminated, keep your comments brief and appropriate. Here are some phrases to use during the termination meeting:

  • “I appreciate you letting me know directly.”
  • “Thank you for the opportunities I’ve had here.”
  • “I understand this was a difficult decision.”
  • “I’d appreciate any feedback you can share on areas for improvement.”
  • “I wish the team all the best moving forward.”
  • “Please let me know if you need anything to transition my work.”

Avoid negative parting words and refrain from criticizing your employer or team members. The goal is ending the relationship gracefully.

How should you answer “Why were you fired?”

Being asked why you were fired in an interview or by contacts can be stressful. Avoid saying anything overly negative about your past employer. Here are some sample responses:

  • “My position was eliminated due to downsizing.”
  • “My skills and the role weren’t the ideal match.”
  • “The company decided to go in a different direction.”
  • “It was a startup and ran out of funding for my role.”
  • “There were changes in management that led to my termination.”

Keep answers concise and redirect the conversation to your skills and abilities. Discuss what you learned and how you grew from the experience.

What should you say to references after being fired?

Notify your references right away that you have been let go and the reasons behind your termination. Provide details on the circumstances and timing. Give them guidance on what to say to inquiries, focusing on your accomplishments and contributions.

Here are some things to communicate to your references:

  • “I wanted to let you know I was recently terminated from my position at X company.”
  • “The reason given for my termination was XYZ.”
  • “I’d appreciate if you could speak to my accomplishments on projects ABC if asked.”
  • “Please avoid mentioning the termination circumstances and instead focus on my skills in your reference.”
  • “Here are some talking points on my contributions you can use.”

Giving references a heads up ensures they aren’t caught off guard and can represent you effectively.

How should you tell your network you were fired?

There’s often no need to proactively inform your whole network you’ve been terminated. But if asked directly, stick to simple facts without negativity or blame. Examples of what to say:

  • “I was recently let go from my position at X company due to a reorganization.”
  • “I’m no longer working at X company. It was an amicable separation and I’m excited to find a new opportunity.”
  • “My role at X company was eliminated, but I appreciated my time there and learned a lot.”
  • “My employment at X company ended recently. It simply wasn’t the right fit for me.”

Keep it brief and emphasize the positive. There’s no need to go into the messy details in most professional circles.

Should you discuss firing details in a job interview?

Avoid voluntarily bringing up your termination in an interview if possible. But know interviewers may ask, so prepare a diplomatic response. Focus on lessons learned and growth versus grievances.

Some dos and don’ts when addressing a firing in an interview:

  • Do keep answers concise and composed.
  • Don’t speak negatively about past employers or team members.
  • Do highlight your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Don’t provide messy details about the termination circumstances.
  • Do discuss useful things you learned from the experience.
  • Don’t dwell on the termination or over-explain.

Redirect the conversation to the value you can provide in the role at hand. Stay solution-focused.

How can you explain employment gaps after being fired?

Gaps in your resume after a termination can raise questions from employers. Have a game plan to briefly explain the gap without dwelling on the firing:

  • “I took some time to reassess my goals and interests after my last position ended.”
  • “After my previous role, I managed personal matters before refocusing my job search.”
  • “I’ve been selective and waiting for the ideal opportunity to utilize my skills.”
  • “The gap was due to my termination from my last role. But I’ve been using the time productively.”

Quickly follow up with your continued passion for the industry, the value you offer and strengths that make you an attractive candidate.

What should you say to colleagues after being fired?

Notify close colleagues from your past job individually about your termination. Keep messages simple yet thoughtful:

  • “I wanted to let you know my employment with X company ended today. I appreciate everything we accomplished together.”
  • “It’s been great working with you. Unfortunately, I was let go today. Please reach out if I can help with the transition.”
  • “I’ll miss working with you. My position was eliminated suddenly but I hope we stay in touch.”

Thank them for their mentorship, collaboration or teamwork. Offer to help transition your work if applicable. Stay positive in tone.


Losing a job can stir up strong emotions. But maintaining poise and maturity in your communications is critical for your reputation and future prospects. Avoid venting anger or resentment. Instead, stay composed, keep comments minimal and professional, and focus on the positive.

With tact, you can exit gracefully and make clear you harbor no ill will. This preserves relationships and ensures you’re perceived with class, maturity and resilience.