by Corey Switzer-Kruss

I was preparing a candidate for an important interview the other day that prompted me to dispense some ‘career counseling’ advice to my readers out there in the blogosphere!

In an interview, don’t EVER use the F-Word.

Some of you may be thinking, “Obviously Corey, I know to never swear in an interview”.

Others don’t actually know that it’s considered really bad form to swear in an interview. I know who you are, and STOP IT! You’re costing yourselves job offers!

Though swearing in an interview is not the topic of my blog today. The almighty F-Word I’m talking about is……


Ahhhhhhh – it’s such an ugly word! Synonyms for ‘fired’ are torched, burned, ablaze, smoking, etc. In my opinion, people use the word ‘fired’ far too often in their every day lives and most especially in interviews!

My husband is a prime example – the poor guy always ends up being my example.

Regardless of the circumstances, if he or someone he knows loses their job he says that he or someone he knows “got fired”. To my husband, and a great many people “fired” is the only word in their vocab to describe that a job was lost.

Downsized – FIRED

Laid Off – FIRED

Rightsized – FIRED

Position Eliminated – FIRED

Company closed – FIRED

Branch relocated out of the area – FIRED

New management came in and hired a former colleague to replace you because they really really like that person, and they don’t know you from Adam – FIRED

My manager let me go but never gave me any reason as to why – FIRED

The list goes on and on.

The employment world is so nuanced; not one job is exactly the same and not one circumstance is exactly the same. So, why would we use the same word for something that is so personal in individual?

The real problem comes during interview time. As a recruiter, I am trained well enough to probe further when I hear the phrase, “I was fired”. I realize that many people don’t know how to articulate their reason for leaving an employer and they default to the F-Word.

I am not the tough hurdle to jump; I’ll get the information I need. The tough hurdle is when you’re on an interview with a prospective employer and they ask you the same question. Most of the people interviewing you have a lot invested into their company; sweat equity, real equity, emotion, etc. When they hear the F-Word it raises a big RED flag. They begin to fixate on the word. They begin to worry. They begin to sweat. Then, they begin to think about ways they can cut the interview short and GET YOU THE HECK OUT OF THEIR OFFICE. Hiring managers aren’t trained interviewers, and because of their emotional connection to their company you’re SOL as soon as those fateful words leave your lips.

I’ve spoken with some terrific candidates over the years that didn’t know the power of the word ‘fired’. They would tell me that they’ve been on dozens of interviews but don’t understand why they can’t get a job. 9 of 10 of these people were misusing the word and/or ineffectively describing the circumstances behind their departure.

The problem with the word is that it’s misused and too vague. Just remove it from your vocabulary altogether. Clearly this topic gets me ALL FIRED UP!

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