The number one reason people are fired (is the same as the reason they were hired)
I was in a meeting with Workopolis VP of Human Resources Tara Talbot the other day, and she said the most interesting thing. “The reason that most people get hired is the same as the reason most people get fired.”
And that reason is personality.
You don’t get hired for a job because of your skills. You get chosen for an interview because your resume and maybe a prescreening phone call confirm that you have the desired credentials for the job. But every other candidate interviewed will also have those skills.
So the hiring decision almost invariably comes down to personality. Which candidate did the hiring manager like the most? Which one is a better fit with the team and the company culture? That’s who gets hired.
It’s also why people get fired. One of the most common reasons people are let go comes down to personality. Most employment relationships come to an end over some form of personality clash between an employee and a manager or a staff member’s fit with the overall team. That’s because teams evolve.
Staff come and go, people are promoted, new managers are brought in, and organizations are restructured. The job your personality got you hired for could have a completely different vibe six months or a year down the road.
Some of the most common reasons people are fired actually come back to personality:
Frequent absenteeism / slacking off: If there is something going on in your life that is requiring you to be away often, you should talk to your manager. If you can’t – that says a lot about your relationship.
Similarly, if you’re just taking frequent ‘sick days’ because you don’t want to be at work, you probably don’t have the best rapport with your team.
Insubordination / refusing to follow direction: In a good working relationship you and your boss would respect each other’s’ expertise, each have input, with the manager making the final decision. You’d execute the strategy and you’d both learn from the outcome. If you’re disrespectful or refusing to do what you’re asked – that dynamic isn’t working and clashes are inevitable.
Complaining about your employer on social media: Many people have been fired for ranting about their jobs or their bosses online. Clearly it’s just not something you would do if you had a positive working relationship with them. (And even if you don’t, you still shouldn’t do this. Rant privately with a trusted friend if you must, but don’t publish it online. You’re all too likely to get caught.)
Poor performance: This seems like a valid reason for being fired, but performance issues are rarely just that. Unless you were newly hired for a job that is simply above your skill level, reasons for poor performance reviews are generally personality-based. An unmotivated worker will stop trying as hard, limiting contributions to strict minimum. Productivity will suffer.
Also employers who want to get rid of a staff member will start to document every complaint about their behaviour or performance to create a paper trail of grounds for dismissal.
Many people leave negative work environments before they’re fired. The number one reason people quit their jobs is because of a poor working relationship with their manager. Says Tara Talbot, “We hear it all the time in HR circles, people don’t leave jobs. They leave their managers.”
How to interview for jobs after being fired
So if you’ve been fired from your job – for the most common reason of all – does this have to torpedo your chances of landing your next gig? No, it happens to many – if not most – people at some point in their careers. It all comes down to how you spin it.
Telling a potential employer in a future interview that, “I couldn’t get along with the new manager and the whole team was out to get me,” will indeed limit your potential.
Try something like this instead:
- A new manager was brought in and he/she wanted to take the department in a different direction.
- The new director brought their own people with them making my position redundant.
- The company lost XX people over the past year due to cutbacks, and I was one of the unlucky ones.
Followed any of these up with: “It was a great learning experienced though – I’m glad to have had the opportunity there. Here’s what I accomplished that can be of benefit to you…”
If you were fired or let go from your previous job, be honest about what happened, but don’t offer up any negative details. Most people lose jobs at some point in their careers. You pick yourself up, learn what you can from the experience, and move on. Here’s how I was fired one time (and it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to my career.)