When commencing a wrongful dismissal lawsuit, an employee has a duty to mitigate their damages; meaning they are required to attempt to decrease their losses by going out and finding a new comparable position. That said, many people find it difficult to find a new job if they have recently been let go. They have particular difficulty attempting to explain their termination to a potential new employer during the interview process.
The first step you must ask yourself is, have I been terminated without cause or with cause? A termination without cause means that you have not ‘done something bad’ to warrant your termination.
Some examples of a termination that is without fault on your part include a restructuring, because your position does not exist anymore, or the company was sold. If this is the case, there is no reason why you cannot be honest and open about what happened to you. On the other hand, if you have been terminated for cause it may be difficult for you to explain your termination at a job interview, but it is important to be honest, brief, and not overly emotional about what happened to you.
Some common examples of termination for cause are chronic lateness, absenteeism, insubordination, dishonesty, and/or theft, but this specific blog post will focus on how you can approach an interview after being terminated for alleged poor performance.
It should be observed that termination for poor performance if you did you your best, is not legally the same as a termination for cause. The latter generally requires deliberate misconduct. Therefore, if you were terminated without notice because you were not good at the job, you are entitled to damages for wrongful dismissal.
Tip #1: Be honest
Honestly is the best policy when it comes to interviewing for a new job. If you lie or try to cover up the reasons for your termination and the potential employer finds out, they will most likely not be hiring you, especially if they have asked you for references. On the other hand, if you lie about the reasons for your termination at your interview (for example you say that you were terminated for restructuring when it was really due to poor performance), end up getting hired, and your new employer finds out that you lied to them, they may decide to terminate you for misrepresenting yourself.
Tip #2: Be brief
There is no need to provide a long explanation and specific details about your termination, such as how many warnings you received. You can be brief and simply say the reason you were terminated was because of performance issues. However, if you have an explanation for why your performance was not up to par, do not be afraid to share it. For example, if you were terminated because your sales were down, but you had just been moved to a much slower sales territory – share this explanation with the potential new employer. However, do not try to make too many excuses for your behaviour and do not speak ill of your past employer in any way. If you come across as resentful or confrontational it is very unlikely that a prospective employer will want to hire you.
Tip # 3: Explain your termination in a positive way
Another tip would be to spin your termination in the most positive way possible. A good way to do this is by explaining to the interviewer what you learned from your termination, and how you plan to improve going forward. This shows the interviewer that you see your termination as a positive learning experience, you have grown as an employee and that you will not make the same mistakes in the future.
Tip # 4: Do not mention your lawsuit
If you are negotiating your severance package or have hired a lawyer, the best practice would be to not mention this during your interview. If for some reason the interviewer asks you if you have an ongoing wrongful dismissal claim against your previous employer, you can simply say that you cannot discuss this as it is a confidential matter.
Please note that the above blog post is NOT legal advice and every case is different. If you have been recently terminated from your job, call Monkhouse Law today for a free 30-minute consultation with a licenced professional.