Published on August 21st, 2008 by Alan L Sklover
Question: My wife was asked to resign or be fired from a contracted “at will” job at a lawyer’s office. She resigned. She is filling out applications, and is being asked “Have you ever been fired or asked to resign?” How should she answer that question?
Melvyn, from Eagle Creek, CO
Answer: I have been asked this question many times, and my answer is the same: I encourage telling the truth. It is a wise course to follow, a good habit to develop, much easier than trying to remember what lies you have told, and nearly always the safest course of action. Oh, yes . . . it’s also the right thing to do.
For these reasons – with a few exceptions – my answer to your question is this: Your wife should have no fear of answering the question honestly, but should try to provide a positive reason for what took place, such as “Yes. Once I did not get along with a lawyer I worked for, so she asked me to resign.” Or, perhaps, “Yes. When I worked for a law firm, their business dried up, so I was asked to resign.” Notice that I try to attach the “Yes” answer to an understandable reason.
Remember, too, that nearly everyone you ever met at one time in their life has been fired or asked to resign; so, an honest answer may be viewed as just that: an honest answer.
What are the exceptions to this “Honesty If Possible” rule? Most exceptions to the “rule” involve situations where telling the interviewer what happened would require you to share a deeply personal matter, or would likely do harm to a person, or their reputation. In those instances, I believe that a “higher value” requires not telling the entire truth. But even in these situations, I suggest telling the truth as much as you can.
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Best, Al Sklover