I have left my company on less than ideal terms. What should I say to a prospective employer?

If you've left an unpleasant job, whether you decided to leave or you were fired, remember to focus on your goals during a job interview and speak tactfully about your former situation.

If you've left an unpleasant job, whether you decided to leave or you were fired, remember to focus on your goals during a job interview and speak tactfully about your former situation. Highlight what you have to offer and never badmouth a previous employer.

The interview is a chance to show the real you, learn about the job, and see if there is good chemistry between you and the company. Keep the conversation positive, professional, honest, and purpose-driven.

Describe your exit in a way that reflects positively on you and doesn't sabotage your chances of getting hired. Everything you say about someone reveals a piece of who you are. Negative talk about a previous boss will make the interviewer wonder if the poor relationship was your fault, if you will speak poorly about your next company if you leave, and if you will be a cynical addition to the department.

Your ex-boss might also be the hiring manager's best client or friend. To present yourself as a confident candidate, prepare a thought-out statement that displays self-awareness, responsibility, and discretion.

Maryanne Rainone is SVP and MD at Heyman Associates.

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