I was fired from my job. Will that affect my chances of getting into a top business school?

Being fired from one’s job is a painful experience. It can often leave many MBA applicants defensive when addressing this issue in their application. The most important thing to do when addressing this issue is to be factual about it.

The Adcom wants to understand the circumstances surrounding you getting fired. At the heart of their concern is whether there were significant personal traits that got you fired. Issues around lapses in ethical judgment (theft, cheating) are extremely difficult to overcome. Taking a job where there wasn’t a fit or a situation where you lacked the requisite skill set can be overcome.

What helps in addressing such situations is taking a mature and honest approach by owning your mistake, revealing what you learned, and then moving on to focus on what you have subsequently done professionally that show you in a positive light. This is the classic redemption story which admission boards are open to. It may also be the case that you were fired as a result of your entire group being eliminated from the firm. This is a much easier story to tell than when you are singled out and fired because of something you did or didn’t do.

There are a few things that you should avoid if you were fired from your job.

•  Never lie about this, as it will come back to hunt you.

•  Don’t dwell on it. While you have to address the issue, don’t belabor it. Tell them as directly and succinctly as possible what happened and move on.

•  Remember to show the turnaround aspect of the experience. You need to have something positive to bring their attention back to.

•  Don’t sit at home and allow huge time gaps without work or community involvement. While you are looking for work make sure to fill your time with activities where you can continue to challenge yourself, contribute to others, and demonstrate leadership.

Chioma Expartus
Chioma Isiadinso is a former Harvard Business School admissions board member and a former director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the CEO of EXPARTUS®, LLC, a global admission consulting company, and the author of The Best Business Schools’ Admissions Secrets. Follow EXPARTUS® Facebook LinkedIn Twitter

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