How to Deal With the Question of Being Forced to Resign From a Previous Job

Job seekers often wonder if recruiters and hiring managers look for the most difficult and challenging questions to ask during the interview process. Be prepared to feel like you're in the hot seat when trying to give a plausible reason why you were forced to resign from a previous job. Take a moment to collect your thoughts before you answer.

Respond with truthful and factual statements, even if you faced termination if you didn't agree to resign from your previous job. Remember, interviewers aren't necessarily testing you by asking certain questions. They just want you to reasonably explain the kind of work experience you have and why you left your previous jobs.

Determine Eligibility for Rehire

Call your former employer with questions about how job references and employment verification are handled for employees who resigned in lieu of termination. Learn how the company responds to prospective employers and whether the human resources department is solely responsible for responding to reference checks, or if the company forwards calls to supervisors to handle. Also, confirm whether you're eligible for rehire. An interviewer may not be as concerned about the reason you were forced to resign, as they would be if the prior employer doesn't consider you eligible for rehire; this implies that your performance was so poor that you can't ever return.

Draft and Rehearse Responses

Review your work history and decide how to best answer the typical interview questions about your experience and reasons for leaving each job. Draft your interview responses and read them thoroughly until you're able to articulate your responses fluidly. The Idealist recommends rehearsing with a friend to get comfortable talking about the subject. Also practice emphasizing your work history in terms of performance. Talk about your achievements and accomplishments, but don't ignore pointed questions about why you were asked to resign.

Truthfully Answer Question

Focus on your responses to the most difficult questions, such as "Have you ever been fired from a job?" and "Have you ever been terminated from a job or asked to resign?" Ensure that you're able to respond to the interviewer's questions in a satisfactory manner and without hesitation. Never conceal a job termination – failing to disclose information could cause you to lose the job. Answer briefly and then redirect the conversation to your interest in the current position.

Accept Responsibility

Answer the interviewer's questions about your previous job without getting defensive or hanging your head. Indeed Career Guide recommends taking responsibility for actions leading up to resignation. If you were asked to resign in lieu of termination, you could respond with, "Yes, I was asked to resign in lieu of being fired. I erred when I misinterpreted a workplace policy on reporting leave time and chose to resign instead of the involuntary termination I faced."

If your former employer has agreed to provide a satisfactory job reference to prospective employers, emphasize that fact. In addition, it's important that you tell the interviewer whether you're eligible for rehire and stress that your job performance otherwise met your previous employer's expectations. Speak positively of your former employer.