What You Should Ask An Employer When You're Fired

Questions to Ask When You Are Terminated From a Job

Copyright YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

Getting fired or laid off from your job can be very stressful. Although you may want to get up and leave immediately following the conversation, you shouldn't give up so easily. It's important to find out about why you were fired, along with what - if any - compensation you're entitled to following the firing. 

Questions to Ask When You’ve Been Fired

After you're fired or laid off, your conversation with your employer depends on the circumstances surrounding your termination, in addition to your personal and professional goals at that point.

Get the Facts

If you are protected by a personal or union contract, then you should ask for the employer's justification to determine if they have legitimate grounds for their action. If, like most workers, you are employed at will, then the employer will not be required to furnish a rationale for your firing.

Could You Stay?

When you want to keep your job, you have nothing to lose by asking  if there might be any leeway with their decision. In addition, even if you don't have contractual protections, most employers have a policy manual that underscores the conditions under which an employee can be terminated. An explanation for your firing may give you the opportunity to contest the action, but will also give you insight into how you can improve your work habits for a future job.

If your employer has referenced a shortcoming of yours as grounds for your firing and you believe that you can address the concern over time, you might ask if you could be placed on probation for a period of time in lieu of an immediate termination.

 You can explain that you would aggressively address the weakness during that the probationary period. 

Can You Resign Instead of Being Fired?

You may want to ask if you would be allowed to resign instead of being fired if you want to avoid the stigma of a firing. However, if an employer agrees, you may jeopardize your eligibility for unemployment payments.

So, you might also ask your employer if they would agree not to contest any claim that you make for unemployment. 

What Information Will the Company Give During Reference Checks?

In addition, if they agree to a resignation, you might ask for a letter of recommendation. You should ask how the company will handle any inquiries about your tenure with the organization.  Ask if they will simply share dates of employment like some organizations do, or if  they will give the reason for your departure. 

Check on Severance and Vacation Pay and Benefits

You should also inquire about any severance pay, compensation for unused vacation, sick time, or continuation of healthcare coverage for a period of time. Make sure you ask what steps you need to take in order to secure any compensation and to continue your health coverage.  Ask about your pension and 401k so that you understand any employer rules governing those assets. 

Get Your Computer Files

If you haven't backed up any personal computer files on your office computer - something you should always do - you can ask for the opportunity to retrieve any important documents.


Keep it Professional

Whatever you ask, resist the temptation to lash out at your employer in an unprofessional manner.  The satisfaction derived from any parting shots will be fleeting, but the employer will undoubtedly remember your last words should they be asked, formally or informally, about your time with the organization.

Read More: 50 Questions and Answers About Getting Fired

Related Articles: You're Fired! How to Handle a Termination | 50+ Frequently Asked Questions About Resigning

DISCLAIMER: The private websites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, are opinion and information. While I have made every effort to link accurate and complete information, I cannot guarantee it is correct. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct. This information is not legal advice and is for guidance only.

Continue Reading...