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Becky Wiechman

Definitely don't lie. Never lie about your background. Someone will inevitably always find out the truth, and it's a sure-fire way to shoot yourself in the foot and give your career and downward spiral.

It's an excellent question, though. Even though the last thing you want to do is lie, you can still take control and make the narrative a positive one while still being truthful. The person interviewing you will want to be reassured that you are the right person to hire, and that you will be an asset to their company. So even though your poor performance may be a bump in the road of your career, turn it positive by taking control of the narrative behind it. Don't just say you were fired from poor performance (if that's all I heard as an interviewer, sure, I would be a bit put off). Instead, give it a little bit of context, share what you learned from the experience, and how you will turn what you learned into a positive for the company you're interviewing with. This will take a little bit of reflection on your part, and some research into the company you're interviewing with (which you should be doing anyway).

For example--let's say your company had given you a minimum goal for monthly sales figures, and because you failed to meet that goal for several months in a row, you were fired. So if someone asks you why you left your last job, you might say something like,
"I was unfortunately unable to meet our monthly sales goals, so it didn't work out for me to stay with Company A. But in the process, I learned some best practices in what is common between the most successful members of my sales colleagues, which is the way they were able to do (x, y, and z). I know that your company, Company B, has a goal of (strategy 1) and is looking for sales people to assist in doing that. I would very much like to put into practice what I learned about (x, y, and z) to drive Company B to its goal." Now, instead of putting me off by your answer, you come across as motivated, self-aware, and driven to constant growth by learning from all your experience, good and bad.

Remember, even if you perceive the answer to a question to not be positive, it is up to you to frame the narrative behind your answer. If you want the interviewer to see you in the best light possible, make sure they know about all the best things you have to offer!

Answered 9 years ago

Becky Wiechman