Interviewing or Job Applications: What do I say if I was fired?

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If you are unemployed, you may have a unique situation you find challenging as you interview because you were fired or left your job under unpleasant circumstances. You might be unsure of what to say or do when talking to prospective employers. Here is a question that one client posed to me:

Question: What is the correct response for a job application or interview when asked the question: “What is the reason for leaving?”, when I was terminated from my previous employer?

The word “termination” sounds very scary. In fact, it has many meanings. Someone can be:

  1. Terminated with cause. Often known as being fired, this type of involuntary termination is the result of the employee doing something wrong. The employee may have been accused of or found guilty of a behavior that is unacceptable, such as theft, lying, insubordination, workplace violence, harassment or any action that takes you through the progressive discipline process.
  2. Terminated without cause. In these situations, often the company initiates the employee’s departure; it is also considered an involuntary termination. The departure might be due to a layoff, job elimination, facility closure or the expiration of a contractual agreement. Some positions have mandatory retirement requirements for safety or other reasons which require employees to leave at a certain age. Employees and employers can reach mutual agreements where both parties agree that leaving is the best option without placing blame on either side.
  3. Terminated voluntarily. Employees choose to leave, resign, quit or give notice to their employer on their own accord.

Let’s deal with how to handle a termination with cause because that is the one that causes the most trouble for job hunters.

The first thing to do is to determine what your employer is going to say when someone calls to verify your past employment. You can check to see if there is a policy in the employee handbook.

Many companies limit what is said to reference checkers to limit their liability. In those instances, the information is usually limited to dates of employment and verification of the position last held.

Once you have found out what your employer is “suppose” to say, call the HR department and verify it with them directly. Another option is to have someone call the Human Resources department or your previous boss and ask for a reference.

If you want ex-coworkers to service as a reference, be mindful that if they still working for the company, they may be limited in what they can say about you.

Coworkers who have left the company have more freedom to share information; however make sure you know what they will say before offering them as a reference.

On your application, it is not necessary to go into a lot of detail about your termination. You can state it as an involuntary termination because terminations with and without cause are considered to be involuntary.

At some point, a prospective employer is going to ask you for more detail. Here is where it is important to have your story air tight and to say as little as possible. It is not necessary to go into all the gory details.

If you were fired for something that you believe was unfair or unjust, you can state that the termination was involuntary.

If probed further, you can say there was a difference of opinion with your previous employer.

The interviewer might still not be satisfied, so be ready to explain in one or two sentences what the issue was and 1) why you believe it was not fair and/or 2) what you learned from the situation.

When you are in a stressful situation it is easy to start sharing more information than is necessary and to start fidgeting in your seat. Write down what you want to say and practice it saying it alone or with someone else. Do this at least 50 times so that the conversation flows naturally.

A good interviewer knows when they have hit a “hot button” and your goal is to have a calm discussion so that the interviewer accepts the first response: it was an involuntary termination and moves on to telling you about the job.

This approach might work for you, however, it is important to note that personal circumstances may alter what needs to be communicated – that is what makes your situation unique. If you are having difficulty on what to say, seek some professional assistance instead of continuing to feel frustrated.

If you have been in this situation, what has worked for you and what has not worked so well?

Please note: I get a lot of questions on this post for specific advice. I generally respond to anyone that writes a comment, however, do not expect to receive advice that is 100% relevant to your situation. There is always more to the story and that requires me to work with people individually in a coaching session. If you do not have the funds to work with a career coach, you can 1) research other articles on Elephants at Work and glean an answer that works for you or 2) consider purchasing either of my eBooks, put in a little elbow grease and craft your own answers. Bottom line: making it work takes an investment of time, money or resources. 

Author: Lynn Dessert

Lynn Dessert is a certified ICF and NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals to accelerate their career advancement and organizations to fast track leadership skill development. Her career eBooks What To Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding give you a roadmap to DIY. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.412.2852 today.

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78 Comments

  1. I have never worked except for voluntary, on both occasions I was told I’d be hired but was simply led on so that they would have a free worker, on one of the occasions though the employer was inappropriate and sexually harassed me, I therefore left on bad terms, so as you can imagine I don’t want the employer to be contacted and I’m not sure how to respond to “reason for leaving” for this particular job, any ideas?

    Post a Reply
    • Chelsey,

      Simply say you decided to leave. You were not an employee or being paid for your services. In fact, you don’t have to list them because there is no paper trail for employment.

      Post a Reply
  2. Dear Lynn

    I got fired for an alleged misconduct, having an affair with a subordinate. This has put me in a very awkward position financially and as a professional. My friends and colleagues are willing to give references and equally shocked. It’s not true, the alleged person I am having an affair also denies it, it’s retaliation from someone who was mad at me for not hiring her. I will proceed with legal action it might take time and I need to get back to work.

    I am really having a hard time, trying to summarize this in a positive, yet truthful manner.

    Regards,

    Omar

    Post a Reply
    • Omar,
      You have a tough situation to deal with. I would suggest you pick up my eBook – What to Do After Being Fired to help you with discussions with potential employers. If you take legal action, it will be a long road and you will have to know how to manage/avoid that discussion.

      Lynn

      Post a Reply
  3. What if i was a cashier and i got fired for being over on my register . Need heelp to put on app reasing for leaving .. can i say i have learn seens then ……………………….. help<<<

    Post a Reply
    • Lexus,

      You can say you learned a lesson if you did. What would you do differently? That’s what you have to explain and if it sounds like you put some steps in place to do a better job, the new employer may take a chance on hiring you.

      Post a Reply
  4. I was terminated for multiple minor things that supposedly I did, but I did not agree with. I was unable to proof that I did these things. The company I worked for is pushing employees with 20+ years out of the company either by retiring, terminating or making us leave & go somewhere else. What is the best approach for my next interview & application?

    Post a Reply
    • Dawn,

      Without more details, I can not answer your question – and that is what I do in my coaching services for people because it takes time to understand your story and find a good solution. Absent working together directly, I have written two books to help people who want to try and figure out things on their own with a little help and guidance on how to go about it. Feel free to purchase one or both – What to Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding.

      Post a Reply
  5. Hello Lynn,
    I was fired recently for poor performance. I was never warned by employer. Everything was going normal until one day my boss told me to meet him after work and gave me the termination letter. In the termination letter it was stated that I need more mentoring and a big group where people can help me to improve my job skills. My former boss is a very busy man. He is the president of the organization. He said he will give me a reference, didn’t tell me whether it would be positive or negative though. I don’t know what should I put in my job applications. Most of them asks if I have resigned, laid off or discharged from the previous job. They also ask to explain if I was discharged.I am afraid that if I tick the discharged column and explain I was fired due to poor performance I will never get an interview call. It would be great relief if you could give me some advice to deal with this situation successfully.
    Thank you.

    Post a Reply
    • Molty,

      First of all, based on what you have said your former boss has given you some valuable information about how to be successful. Consider his comment about the type of atmosphere where you will thrive to be a gift because you now know what to look for and what to say when people ask why you left. If want to refine how you say it, I suggest getting my eBook What to Do After Being Fired, it is more cost effective than working in a coaching session with me or someone else on how you present your situation to future employers. Finally, if he or anyone says they will give you a reference, 99% of the time it is positive. How do you know what they will say? I cover that in the eBook too.

      Post a Reply
  6. Dear Lynn,

    I was recently “released” from my employment and when I pressed for a reason, was told that they (the employer) did not need to state a reason since I was still in my probationary period. I was given a positive 6-month review just two months earlier so the whole thing was unexpected, to say the least. I am struggling to figure out what to write on applications since most ask point blank if you had ever been fired and to explain. Saying “I don’t know the reason” sounds weak and fishy, but that’s the truth! I’m sure I’ll also be asked why I was fired if I make it to interviews. Do you have any advice on how best to word my answer on the applications and during interviews?

    Post a Reply
    • I am not sure why your company had such a long probationary period. Most probationary periods end within three months, six months at a maximum. If you want to figure out why, my eBook goes how to try and find the answer both from the company or by examining your relationship with the company more thoroughly. Absent trying to do the work yourself, I would recommend sitting down with a career coach to craft your message carefully. They would need more information than you have provided to answer you properly. Good luck!

      Post a Reply
  7. I was working for a company in a receptionist/admin position for a year and was promoted to a manager of a new shows/retail department in marketing and was told I didn’t have to really work weekends/evenings except once a month or so which is the reason I accepted the position, initially I declined it twice as I figured I would have to work weekends and my time is important to me and they told me I would rarely have to.They got me a consultant as I didn’t have a lot of experience in that area. Eventually the consultant said in order for me to do that position I needed to change my work schedule and was trying to force my hand. Thus I spoke with the owners and asked if there were other positions available as it was better for both parties if I was in an operations position. I recommended someone else who I hired and is now working that position.

    The person that took over my reception/admin position was moving to a different position, and I switched back to my old reception/admin position early September. However as the company is growing they were creating departments and pulled away many of my duties and dispensed them between the other departments so I could concentrate on just the phones and input basic information.
    This isn’t what I was expecting thus I went to them and let them know if there were other positions opening up, I would be interested. Then they let me go one week later.
    I felt that my input was no longer needed as I was just expected to do what I was asked.
    It was hard as they were wanting just a receptionist, and after I had learned so much and gained many new skills I felt underutilized.
    I am wondering what would be best to put in the “Reason for Leaving” section.
    I have 4 people that are willing to be a reference and I was told that I should feel that I made effective changes in the company by another manager. Thank you ~

    Post a Reply
    • Missy,

      It is good that you have four people who are willing to be references. I would suggest you pick up my eBook – What to Do After Being Fired, it will help you craft your story for your interviews and help you determine the best alternative for job applications. To be specific to your situation, work with a career coach as there are many more questions to be answered before giving advice online.

      Lynn

      Post a Reply
  8. What “better” way should I put I was terminated due to attendance on future applications and in a interview? I’m a good employee, but a few years ago I’ve found myself tardy to work a bit more than usual at,at least two of my previous jobs and let go from another for they considered “falsifying information ” while signing people up with a reward program. What is the best way to word the dreaded words “fired” or “terminated” while being truthful as possible without making myself look bad and look like a hire-able candidate?

    Post a Reply
    • Lexy, Everyone’s situation is a little different. The most cost effective way to develop what you should say on job applications and during interviews is to work through my eBook: What to Do After Being Fired or you could work with a career coach to craft and practice your message too.

      Post a Reply
  9. I was fired for tardiness from West. what should I say?

    Post a Reply
    • Khadiji- I believe you contacted me directly for some advice too. I work with people in three ways – 1) directly with clients who want advice from a professional through a 90 Minute Coaching session, 2) you can purchase my any of eBooks to help you work through your problem with some guidance or 3) there are many articles on Elephants at Work that may assist you for free. Good luck!

      Post a Reply
  10. I was terminated from a correctional facility that I have been working at for over ten years. After an inmate who I had been at my facility for more than six months. We had been talking in those months. But it was just talking. I took my job way to serious to have a personal relationship with an inmate while I was at work. It wasn’t until after he left my facility that we came in contact with each other and the relationship started then. Nine months later my job found out about it though out side sources. The policy is we are not allowed to have contact with an inmate a year after they leave. So I was let go. Only for that reason. My job performance is excellent. But they couldn’t let the broken policy go bye. Now my question is how do I explain this one to new employees. I am really getting tired of saying I fell in love with an inmate. (what I have been telling friends and ex co/workers why I was let go.) Do you have any advice?

    Post a Reply
    • Elizabeth – One of the hardest things to do is figure out how to tell your story to an prospective employer or the interviewer. It is not something that happens in one try and you have to work at it. Try something, if it does not work then you know you have to change it. In my eBook, What to Do After Being Fired, I walk you through how to construct your story and how to prepare for interviews. I can’t answer your question here because it would take much more time to understand the background and that is what I do with my clients.The eBook will let you do that work more cost effectively, otherwise you should seek out a career coach to help you to get over this hurdle.

      Post a Reply
    • Elizabeth- I am going through the same situation. Ever application stated “how were you terminated” and I am clueless how to answer it. I was good at my job and always kept myself professional. Nothing EVER happened while on duty and no favorites were ever played. Lynn, can you provide a little more feed back. I feel like I am an honest hard working person that doesn’t deserve to be over looked and have no idea how to explain it.

      Post a Reply
  11. Hello Lynn,

    I was terminated from the job just 3 days back, due to some misconduct which is not acceptable and it is involuntary termination with cause.
    I am in a very big trouble, what should I mention on my resume for future employer?
    how should I face an interviewer?
    My manager promise me he will talk to HR, and will take care of the situation that not to affect my career in future.
    HR not understanding me as I already received a Warning letter before for policy violation and this is the second time I did policy violation again.

    Please give me the advice on all these.

    Post a Reply
    • While you boss may go to HR to plead your case, the fact is that HR will most likely only confirm the information that is in your file. Your boss is not in a position to help your career, if they were, you would not have been let go. I appreciate all your questions and I would be happy to work with you on an individual basis through an career coaching engagement or you can opt to work through my eBook: What to Do After Being Fired where the majority of your questions can be worked through. Cases such as yours demands a closer look at the facts to craft the right story that is truthful and compelling.

      Post a Reply
  12. Thanks for your prompt reply Lynn,

    My termination is not yet done, it is on hold(as because of weekends). I requested to my boss please do something for me and HR as well but the case is that they don’t believe on me as of my past misbehavior.
    I breached the company policy and misuse of accesses(user id & password sharing policy) which comes under RED category as per HR policy.
    I promise them that I’ll not do or violet any policy in future again; if anything happened then I, myself will go outside of the company as my own.

    This is a compliance issue, hence it is pending to compliance team and as per their recommendation HR will take the necessary action. I am very afraid of the situation as I have only 3 months are remaining to complete 2 years with present employer.

    I already suggest an option please don’t terminate me, I am ready to resign from the job on same day if you say so; but they are saying wait for our response.

    These all situation put me in a big trouble as my professional and personal life is distracted.

    Post a Reply
    • Awaiting reply. Please Lynn, give me a suggestion. I am in a big trouble.

      Post a Reply
      • Please understand that I do not give out free advice on here. I may point you in the right direction, suggest resources (which I did) or make a comment on your situation. As a professional, when I work with clients we go beyond the surface stuff that is shared on here…because the devil and solution is often in the details.

        My suggestion, find someone you trust who can help you work through this. Even if you find your way out of this situation, I would advise you take a closer look at your pattern of behavior and figure out how to break it or else you will probably get sloppy again and find yourself in a more difficult situation. In fact, depending whatever the issue is, if you tell them you are seeking professional assistance to overcome this pattern that may bode well with the organization. Good luck!

        Post a Reply
  13. Hello Lynn,
    I was fired and arrested for theft of cash from my previous employer 3 months ago. All in all, no charges were filed since they determined them to be false allegations. At the time I surrendered my professional license and am looking for work in another field but still in customer service. I am currently seeking legal representation to get my name cleared. Even so, the arrest can not be expunged for 3 years.
    My former employer has been telling potential employers that I was fired for Loss Prevention reasons and I am not rehire-able. I have since contacted previous managers who are willing to give me a positive reference. I don’t want to lie on my application though.
    I have been looking for a job for 3 months and have come up with nothing. McDonalds rejected me because I was “over qualified”. I’m super frustrated. After reading your article I think I am being overly honest in telling the interviewers the story. I realize that now. I have been honest in answering on the applications that I have been terminated, and in the reason I’ve been putting “Will discuss in person” This has not been getting me any call backs or interviews. This is a complex situation, and I don’t know how to get around this.
    Do you have any advice? I have exhausted my rainy day fund and need to find employment soon. McDonalds rejected me because I was “over qualified” I’m super frustrated.

    Post a Reply
    • Kristina,

      You are doing the right things by asking an attorney to clear your name. Unfortunately, the circumstances will make the job search more difficult. Any employer who may have you deal directly will cash will likely not hire you until that arrest is eliminated. When you tell your “story” be very clear about what you are communicating. I do cover how to do that in my eBook – What to Do After Being Fired.
      The most likely way you will find something is through a personal connection or referral. Someone who knows you will knot let your past employer block an opportunity. Additionally, I have over 350 articles on here that may be of assistance to you.

      Post a Reply
  14. Hello. We’ll I just found this site and I have a serious problem. I have been a CNA for the past 18 years. About 15 years ago I worked for our local hospital. I had a problem w abscenses due to my young child at the time. I was put on probation and a incident happened at work which pretty much was out of my control and they let me go. I was told by several nurses after that it was because I had just filed for a temporary fmla and was approved and since I had been on probation they let me go. I work for another hospital now for 6 years n they love me but the ride is too far. So for the heck of it I applied at my old job and possibly have an interview. So my question now is wth do I say. They have my records so they will see I was fired.

    Post a Reply
    • Shelly, What the other nurses are telling you does not make sense. I would not bank on what they say nor should you bring it up in an interview. Simply tell them you had childcare issues in the past and that is no longer a problem. Good luck.

      Post a Reply
  15. Hello,

    I’ve been terminated recently for theft at my job. i took my overage of $30 from my job it was a financial instuition no charges was brought against me and niether did I get arrested for it and learned my lesson from stealing the $30 but my young 19yrs old and we make stupid mistakes ! what should I say when i go for interviews? what are my chances of getting re-hired

    Post a Reply
    • Mariah, It is important to know how the company termed your termination in the HR department. Depending on what they coded it as, will determine how you present your background to interviewers and on your application. If you need help with how to do that and what to say afterwards, consider purchasing my eBook – it will walk you through the steps. Good luck!

      Post a Reply
  16. I got fired for “being late too many times”. Well, i caught my boss stealing and he kmew i reported it to corporate so he fired me and his excuse was me being late all the time. I went to unemployment and fought it, i had a hearing with the state and my ex boss and he didnt have proof of course, so they favored on my part and i collected for a year. So how do i explain that in one short sentence for a job application?! Please help! Thank you!

    Post a Reply
  17. I worked for a company for nearly six years. The original team I started out on was eliminated – the employees and manager were all laid off, except for those who posted for and moved into other positions within the company. I was one who moved into another position. The new manager and I did not have a good working relationship. Although we spoke openly about our needs and differences, we were unable to find common ground. I was eager to learn, but the manager was not a “coaching” type. The manager had a reputation around the company for an abusive managerial style. I knew this prior to accepting the position, but I wanted the experience the role offered. I was terminated after over a year on the team. I’d had no other professional complaints with the company prior to joining this team. The reason given for my termination was job performance. This is the first time I’ve ever had a manager complain about my job performance. I understand no one is perfect, but I work hard to do my best and learn all I can, especially in a situation (such as this one) where I truly wanted the specific experience offered by this role. Now I’m faced with the task of finding another job and I’m not sure how to explain my termination without sounding like I’m passing blame or not taking ownership. How do I speak of it honestly without speaking negatively of my former manager and employer?

    Post a Reply
    • Patience – Crafting your message is very important because employers will either accept your response or dive into more details because of something you said. I walk you through how to craft your unique message in my eBook or you can figure it out by seeing what works and doesn’t work each time you interview and adjusting your response. Good luck!

      Post a Reply
  18. I got terminated when I was on Leave of Absence because supposedly my job didn’t receive the documentation from my doctor. It is unfair on how I lost mt job but I been putting on my job applications that I resigned. Now I don’t know exactly what to say at a job interview.

    Post a Reply
    • Jean, what you say has to jive with what the company says about your termination. When they do the check, if it is different, they will assume you are hiding something.

      Post a Reply
  19. My company just told me that my positron was eliminated. I was in the 90 days probation. I was not given any negative feedback from my employer while I was employed for 2 months. In fact I asked for job responsibilities and I was told that they don’t know yet. I asked who my direct supervisor was and I was told that they haven’t decided yet. The company doesn’t have a HR department so yesterday the receptionist gave me the last paycheck, the unemployment package and told me that the position was eliminated. I’m not even sure if I was paid all of the hours. However, I’m not sure what to do because I never been terminated before and never went without a job.
    Please advise. Thank you.

    Post a Reply
    • Aimee, This sounds like a very small company. You should know how many hours you worked and verify you received the appropriate pay, if not let them know what the difference is. Your next step – start to apply for jobs and find another one where they know what you will be doing and who you will be reporting to. There are many article on Elephants at Work for you to do some research on what to do. If you need more structured help, consider my eBooks.

      Post a Reply
  20. What will I say in my interview if I went AWOL and consequently terminated after a few return-to-work notice that I intentionally ignored? I just got fed up of the system why I went AWOL.

    Post a Reply
  21. I worked at a family-owned restaurant for three years. Every year they close down for a month or two, then reopen. I am a hard worker and my boss admittedly said they would choose to put me on the schedule before others because of this (I was also promoted within my first six months of working there). Last year I applied for another job, to which they called my boss for a reference. My boss gave a great review according to my potential employer. I ended up not working at the new job but kept the job I had.
    After that, my boss said they felt betrayed and started to cut down on my hours (even though I said I had intended to work both jobs). My boss changed in the way they talked to me (they were not as friendly or happy to see me as before).
    Recently, the restaurant closed down again for a few months. Each year they would call about two weeks before reopening, but this year they did not call. I was nervous to go back in, but texted another employee asking if they reopened yet. They said my boss told them I quit. My (now previous) boss never contacted me and I have not called them.
    Previously, I have seen my boss “get rid” of employees by not scheduling them for a lot of hours and not calling them back. Most of the time, the employees were hard workers but had another job.
    I haven’t worked for over three months now, and am nervous about what to write on my future applications. Also, if a future interviewer asks about what I have been doing during my time of unemployment, what could I say? The restaurant job was also the only job I had, and I am not in any current education.

    Post a Reply
  22. I was just fired after 2 years of working as a rsr with no bad dealings until all of sudden one Monday after running my route my boss said he need to speak with me and this was a union based job so my union rep was required to be there they said they notice some stipulations in my invoices and said they weren’t adding up then suspended me for a investigation that took a week until I called my union rep to see if he heard anything he told me that they fired me and had enough to prosacute me. I’m shocked I never took a dime from anyone ever but now I’m labeled as a thief I don’t know what to do or how to even begin finding work with this new label.

    Post a Reply
    • Eric, Your union representative should be able to provide you with the proof the company has about their claim. I would work through them to resolve the issue.

      Post a Reply
  23. I got terminated from my job after 26 years due to a safety violation ,it was a honest mistake that I thought I locked out my machine before interning in ,there was another lock that was locked that I thought was mine but as I came out of the machine I was searching for my key another employee unlocked the machine and my boss was there and saw the whole incident and had to suspend me for three days and have a hearing with the plant supervisor He terminated me because I had another safety violation five years ago so he let me go and I do understand how safety is a huge issue and I must learned from it but how do I bring this up in a interview ?

    Post a Reply
  24. I was hired permanent last week, got sent to 1 week of training which I completed and was fired 3 days later. The reason, I wasn’t progressing at the speed they wanted. I feel this is unfair and a wrongful termination. They never gave me time to really understand the training, if they had they would have seen that I was very capable. The training was extremely difficult, very aggressive and high pressure and they never told me I had 1 week to “get it” or else. I feel that they were in a hurry to hire someone due to the volume of work, I had done a similar role years ago so I seemed to be the logical choice, but I think I should never have been hired due to them finding someone fast. I really should have turned down the offer but I took it because I needed the job. I feel they made me feel like a failure and didn’t want to give me a chance. The next time I have an interview and am asked if I was ever fired, how would I answer that? If I say it’s because they didn’t think I could do the job, that’s going to go against me. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

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  25. What would you recommend for someone who was involuntarily terminated for violation of company policy that was considered as such mainly due to hearsay from a department manager? The policy was making decisions above my station.

    This was happening in a pharmacy and said manager didn’t remember giving permission to sign some paperwork (which turned out signing up for advertisement) as their representative 5 months after the fact and refutably denied giving said permission. I wouldn’t and didn’t sign without first informing the manager of said paperwork or the explicit permission for the ok to send it back in. This manager was also one very willing to blame employees under them for their own mistakes with no check and balances in the department from upper management due to its nature of being in a pharmacy. Pharmacies are their own entity in retail if it isn’t just a pharmacy.

    When trying to explain that I wouldn’t do such without permission to HR, they gave the impression that I was too much of a problem to keep on (Of course never said in those words) due to an investigation caused by another department manager not following protocol that happened almost 2 years prior and that led to a 2 week investigation, a final “write up” and a transfer. Before this paperwork there was never a proper re-training or warning other than not being allowed to say certain statements to patients in regards to medication (especially those over the counter). What can and cannot be said to patients from a pharmacy technician is all up to the opinion of the pharmacist on duty and due to this it is a continual learning experience. Overall I learned from it and didn’t say another thing about suggestions to patients on medications.

    At this point it felt like he said/she said situation that ended with myself being terminated. Of course I have learned never to say, do or sign anything even when given the ok from a manager because it will bite me in the butt!

    I just want to know if the generic response of policy violations will have me not being a candidate for future employment if asked.

    Thank you!

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  26. Hi Lynn,
    A year ago I was hurt on the job and went out on full medical leave for 8 months. Four months ago, I returned but could only work part time. As any employer would do after FMLA benefits run out, I was “terminated” on good terms of course because the position was full time and I could no longer be accommodated with a part time schedule. I completely understood but now face the dilemma of “do I or do I not mention all this to my prospective future employers at a part time job interview?!” What would be the right way to answer the “why did you leave your last job” question? Could I simply say I was terminated on good terms without giving the interviewer a bad idea or should I be detailed?! Of course if I were to be detailed.. would I run the risk of not being hired because I was previously injured? What would be the right thing to say/do in this case for future interviews?! Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

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  27. I had worked for a company for seven when I was terminated. I volunteer came to the assistant office to complaint of a teacher hitting a child. I overheard him and asked what had happen. As site supervisor I needed to know. I heard the Assistant to go out of her office because she did not need to hear that. I went to review the camera; I never saw the teacher hit the child. I telephoned my supervisor and she did not answer, when I was told that she was in her office. Later in the day she sent the education coordinator over to the site. The coordinator agreed that she did not see anything on the camera either. I wrote the report up and tried to fax it to Bright from the Start, fax machine did not work,. I was called over to the supervisor’s office at which time she informed me that I was being placed on suspension until future notice. The reason being was that I did not follow company policy. She presented me with a copied policy that I had never seen. I asked her when this the policy come into effect she said that it had always been. After leaving her office I telephoned all the other site supervisor to find out what policy they followed; it was the same as mine, A couple days later I received a letter from HR saying that I had been terminated, reason not following company policy. I applied for unemployment. The company tried and tried not to. After being called to the unemployment office for a hearing. I was able to received it. I have applied for jobs and have not been able to find a full time position. The company policy is only HR and answer calls on references. often the application ask for former supervisor name. Should I not list this information? I feel that the information is not getting to the HR department. What can I do or how should I answer this information on an application?

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  28. I recently got fired from my job of 8 months for employee misconduct. I got caught stealing in item of the shelf. Prior to that i hadnt worked sence 2012 and i gained alot of experience at my last job. I want to be able to use that as a refrence but i dont know how to explain why i was let go? Please help me. Also I feel like this is going to keep me from getting another job. What should I do? Thank you.

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  29. If I had applied for a new job and interviewed with them, then in that process was terminated from my current job. Do I need to update the new company I am applying to especially since I’m sure they will make an offer

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    • There is no reason to share information that is new unless they ask for it. At the time of the application you told the truth. However, if they do ask you to update your application, you will have to reflect you left your previous employer. Don’t fret – most companies accept the initial application into their files without asking for an update.

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  30. Please help-
    I started as a RN Clinic Nurse at our local County Jail, and from the beginning I was treated unfairly, but really enjoyed the job. I was not trained by another RN, instead trained by a LPN that complained the whole time right in front of me that she should be getting the same wages as me because she has to train me- (she was not teaching me skills just basic rules and way that clinic is ran). I notified my supervisor of the situation and was told that this person would no longer train because it was very unprofessional. Then I was put in clinic on my fourth day of work by myself, and when I came into work that morning I was verbally attacked by 3 coworkers asking me “what the Hell I was doing we don’t do this here?” Well first of all I wasn’t even the person that did the paperwork they were talking about and explained to them that I have not been fully trained but was very open to help if there are things that I may not do correct. Supervisor questioned me about this because it was reported by another coworker and nothing was done. Then a couple of weeks later I was working the clinic on a Saturday and I had one LPN that was working that day as well, but refused to work as a team. We always had an officer that would work with us, for safety no inmates were seen without one. I was extremely busy and I received a phone call and the officer said it was one of my coworkers that had a question. I answered the phone thinking she may had forgot to pass on some important info- actually she said- “Hello (my name) it’s (her name)”- I answered hello what’s up? She then started with”well I have been told that you are talking sh** about me, and you better watch your back, my husband is an officer – did you think I wouldn’t find out,” dumbfounded by this I began to reply and said (her name) I would never talk behind someone’s back not would I call them and threaten someone I work with- then I did not want to be any part of this I said- Grow up and hung up on her. The officer working with me said- “Oh my God I never imagined that she would call here and mess with you, she acted so friendly and told me she forgot to tell you something about an inmate.” I was currently working with an inmate before the phone call so I attempted to collect myself and finish with inmate. I then attempted to reach our boss and was told by her husband she was on her other phone she would call me back – about 2 hours later my boss called me and said she had talked to the girl that had called me and it was uncalled for and she already regretted it because her husband was mad that she had done this- so I was asked to make a statement 2 days later and was told that it was the LON I was working with that day that called the girl who threatened me and told her that I was talking about her- which was very far from the truth – anyways I was told Human Resources would handle this and I reported it to the Sargent that was working in the jail and he said I had nothing to worry about they would investigate and take care of things- I attempted to make a report with the city police because I did not feel comfortable because the girl who threatened me her husband was a Sargent for the County as well. When the city police officer came I was told by my Sargent I had to wait to file with them if the investigation was not satisfactorily done internally. So 2 weeks later we had an all employee meeting where we were not allowed to discuss anything that happened but from the meeting on there will be zero tolerance with harassment – we all signed the employee handbook upon hiring but from now on there will be no harassment allowed. So nothing ever was done, except further harassment from this employee and a couple others that worked close with her- I documented this and reported it. Nothing was done. On September 14th, 2015 my sister and I found our step mom deceased and I missed that day of the 19th for the funeral and was told by the employer I was excused for bereavement. When I came back I was told by a coworker that I had no right to complain if things were not done because nobody had time to pick up my slack- even for funerals. I asked this woman if she would talk to me in private and she agreed- when we went into room I asked her about her comment and she said-“Oh Fu** No Bi**h if we are going to talk we are doing this in front of everyone and she went in front of other workers and continued to yell at me- I asked her 5 times to stop and talk to me in private and she refused- she then went to the secretary because we had no immediate boss at this time and they came back attacking me verbally and the secretary asked if we could talk in her office with her mediating- I said yes please and the other girl said “F**k No I’m leaving” and left. I was then told by the secretary that I should take the day off with being able to use my PTO. I received a call from the secretary 2 hours later telling me I was suspended pending an investigation and I would be contacted by human resources. On 9/21/15 I received a conference call from the Area Director and the secretary notifying me that after the investigation and collaborating with the County I was terminated,and I qualifies to apply for unemployment. Help!!! I did everything I could- I remained professional, followed proper chain of commands, even though I was treated the way I was- I know that I did a great job as a nurse here- as I was told by all of the employees even the ones above- what do I do and how do I explain this to prospective employers???

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  31. Hi!

    I was terminated from my position about a month ago. I have just recently told by a Senior that no one in the group I have been with is allowed to provide a reference for me. Currently I have ex-manager and former co-workers from my previous group but no supervisor from the group I was terminated from (where I spent most of the time).

    How do I complete the part on the application where it asks for my current supervisor now they are not allowed to give reference?

    Thank you!

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  32. I was very recently terminated from my position alleging that I created a hostile work environment, etc. This came after a brief suspension and “investigation”. I had not had any previous write-ups or corrective actions for this or any other issue. I was not afforded the opportunity to speak on my behalf. The reasons cited on the termination paperwork are fabricated and I got a letter of recommendation from my now-former supervisor.

    What should I say to prospective employers when they inquire as to why I left the organization? Obviously, being defensive isn’t going to be helpful and I’m not going to lie.

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  33. In 2010 I use to work at the state hospital. I got terminated because of a fake doctor’s excuse. I’m applying for another position at a state hospital, do you think they would hire me? Do you think I shouldn’t have applied?

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  34. I was fired from my first job (was only there for 3 months) for staff misconduct, I refused a staff search and doing that lead to me being fired. I now have a new job but during my interview I was asked if I’ve ever had a job and I said no because I didn’t want to mention the fact that I did but I got fired. I’m now thinking if I should let my manager know. I already have the job and she might respect the fact that I’m coming forward and being honest rather then her finding out from someone else. I also believe she already knew I had been fired because when she asked if I’ve ever had a job before and I said no she looked at me as if she knew I was lying.

    Do you think I should let her know and get it off my chest? Also would she fire me for not being honest about having a job. Just for the record I didn’t lie and say I’ve never been fired, I lied about never having a job before this one. If it helps I am 19 and my current job is a customer assistant within the retail field. On one hand I’m thinking that it won’t matter that much, I’ve already got the job and I’m being honest so she’ll probably brush it to one side. But on the other hand I know there’s some managers and other people high up that don’t like me so they may use this to their advantage and fire me. Also I’m still within my 3 month probation period that everyone goes through when they get a new job here in the UK.

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  35. Up until a few months ago I was the assistant store manager of a large grocery store.We got a new store manager,and it was kind of obvious right out of the gate,by her attitude,and very short and curt responses,that she wanted me gone.I was eventually fired under false allegations of,”misconduct-improper cash handling”.There was no credible evidence whatsoever to support this claim.They even filed a police report,which I am sure was for insurance purposes,and turned over video surveillance footage to them.To this day,I have never been contacted by the authorities.When I filed for unemployment,they did not challenge it.

    My concern is,what they will say to prospective employers who call to verify my employment.I have tried contacting HR by both telephone and email,to find out what their policy is on what info they give out,but have not heard back.I have no problem telling a prospective employer I was terminated,but I do have a problem telling them I was terminated for something I was falsely accused of.How would you suggest I handle this prospective employers?Thanks.

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    • Hi Jason,

      First of all, Thank you for purchasing my Ebook, What to Do After Being Fired. Since there is no evidence of your wrong doing and your unemployment was uncontested, look at page 37, number 7 – My boss and I did not work well together that sounds like what you might discuss. You will have to craft your own unique message as this one can be tricky. Use the outline I have following the common reasons for leaving to develop it. Good luck!

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  36. I was terminated from a bank due to mi scouting a drawer and having 2 shortages. I have accept a new position in a different field and wonder what I should put for reason of termination? Can I be dismissed from new position if they contact employer for reason?

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  37. I was terminated while on leave of absence. It was said while I was on leave money was missing. It was also said they did not no when i went on leave of absence. So any how went to talk to the police because they had a warrant out for question let told to call the company and i did no one would talk to me. This has been over ten years ago no background but as a manager I no a company can flag you with green yellow and red to notifiy the othe company of wether to move forward are not. So how do u over come that I can get interviews have th education great work ethic my character is not what they say Integrity is great but how do I sale myself when this is going on

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  38. I voluntarily quit my job as I didn’t get my license renewed in time. It was pretty much show your license or be fired. I voluntarily resigned so I could reapply when I did get my license. So, in the mean time while I am waiting to be rehired I need to find work else
    I am just at a lost what to say to my next employer.

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  39. I was fierd for leaving without counting medication because the next shift s not coming on the floor I told all bosses nth was done so I left twice but my shift was over so I was terminated with unemployment

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  40. Can your employer hold it against you in the future if you was sacked for workplace theft? But didn’t go to the police when the incident happened?

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    • Clarissa, I am not sure what you mean by “hold it against you”. Are asking can the employer note in their records that you were fired for cause? The answer if yes, they can if it is true, which would make you ineligible for rehire with them. If they did not go to the police, consider that you dodged a legal bullet.

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  41. I was fired from my job for a rule violation. I work in a sales role and we have daily metrics that we are supposed to meet every day. We are supposed to be on the phone for a certain amount of time. It was common practice to use our call monitor line to monitor other sales reps calls when we needed to add time to our daily metrics. No one had any idea it was a serious violation especially because it was done daily and no one ever got in trouble. Without warning I was fired. I had no idea it was grounds for termination. Now I am stuck. I violated a rule that I was unaware of and I do not know how to explain it on an application or in an interview? Any advice?

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  42. I was released because several hours prior to my shift I had a couple glasses of wine celebrating a friend’s birthday, and my manager could still smell it on me. My poor decision cost me my job, and I deeply regret it. My question is, what do I say as to why I was terminated? I am reaching out to my former employee to find out what they are going to say.

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  43. Hi Lynn,

    I was terminated because due to stress from job insecurity, whenever I have work that takes a long time, I got so focused on it that I forgot to fill in the time sheet. As a result, I reused some of the older time sheet and my boss caught up to it.

    The reason for my stress is because when I first joined the company, I was given a project to work on myself. After that is finished and awaiting implementation, the boss mentioned that if they don’t have any use for me anymore, they’ll just get rid of me.

    What should I say to a prospective employer in this case? I would really appreciate your help.

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  44. I was terminated from a local government position after discussing my use of a dash cam and that I had created videos and posted them on YouTube. I find explaining my situation to prospective employers as a deterrent. Any advise?

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  45. I was terminated with cause. My question is, I made about $150k with bonus but now I’m willing to take any job staring in $60k. How do I justify or answer that I would take such a pay cut? I know HR won’t reveal why did I leave, so it is difficult to say that I quit looking for new opportunities.
    Thank you

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  46. I was discharged from my last employer after being at the location for 3 weeks here in the past month. I worked at the same company but at a different location from March to September of last year. The locations were in the same city and when I was let go it was brought to my attention of a business review (made about my past location I worked at last year) on the past location’s facebook page by a mutual friend of mine on my facebook account. For this reason given they let me go. A week before they let me go, they had seen a business review on my present employer’s facebook made by another mutual friend on my facebook account. The reviews had talked about the customer’s witnessing unfair treatment between management and an employee in my department at these times the reviews were made. When I was informed of the reviews, I was told there was no records on the people’s names (that made the reviews) of any hotel rooms that they stayed in. But in the reviews, the people/customers had said they had stayed in those rooms under different names, since the services were paid by family members/spouses and felt they did not need to disclose those names for privacy reasons. It was as if they were treating me like I had something to do with the complaints. I know these people through my boyfriend but have never met them formally and in person. These friends are acquaintances and I had no involvement in the reviews. So my question is how should I put my answer down as my “reason for leaving” on an app and how to explain my situation in an interview?

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    • Your employer must have stated the exact reason they fired you. Once you know that, you can figure out how to say it in a better way.

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  47. Hey, I was improperly terminated. I was selected for a random drug test, while I was working for my company and when I was taking the test, the lab tech said the first sample there was no temperature and told me if I leave thats an automatic refusal, but if i stay I need to drink 4 cups of water and wait. I decided to wait and drank 4 cups of water. My results came out as negative diluted. I can understand because I drank so much water, what I don’t understand is the termination part. So, what do I say for a job application about my improper termination. It sucks because the employer thats going to hire me, is going to think that i’m a druggie when I’m not. By the way, I’m a nursing assistant.

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    • Serena, It does not make sense to me that your employer would fire you for a negative diluted result if they knew the circumstances. Generally, they would do a retest at another time or use a more effective method with hair or saliva testing. Either of these options are viable especially given your medical position. That being said, your best action is to tell the truth and let the future employer believe you and/or test you.

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  48. Hi there, I would really appreciate your help
    I was hired in a general surgery residency program and the program director didn’t like me to say the least and he was exaggerating things for 2 years until he put me on probation for 30 days because (according to him) I have deficient surgical skills and I have deficiency in professionalism. Later on, he didn’t give me any feedback about this probation although I have skills at my current level of training and was continuously improving and then he took to his office and said he will not renew my contract for a third year of residency. I worked very hard for that program and I had in service exam scores in 98th percentile for 2 years, I also had very strong letters of recommendation from other faculty members, one of them who is a cardiothoracic surgeon said in his letter that I was the best resident he ever worked with in the last 20 years. This program director has a long history of dismissing people for no reason, and the residency program was basically an “One man show”. He even manipulated a document after I signed it, I found out later on about that. The document was stating that I satisfactorily finished 2 years of residency and then I left the room and he wrote this guy has critical deficiency in skills and in professionalism. Now I had couple interviews for residency, even though they have good impression about me during the interview, the job will disappear because they contacted the previous employer (program director) although they also contacted other faculty members too and they said good things about me and I said the truth about my termination. Now my question is what should I tell them during the interview because I am telling the truth and they call him and he’s saying apparently bad things and lies about me. How can I survive this? I was always at the top of my class in medical school and I put too much effort into this. One of the interviews was 2 months ago and the program director absolutely loved me during the interview but he called previous program director and I’ve been sending an email to him Once a week for 1 and a half months until his coordinator sent me an email saying they are still in the process of interviewing people and they will send me an email if a decision has been made and hat was 2 weeks ago. How can I deal with this ? what should I do in this situation and in the future interviews? any help would be appreciate it. Thank you so much

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  49. Hey surgery resident,
    From the job seekers’ standpoint, this whole issue can be seen as something very much like a double-edged sword. Companies that restrict what can be said by policy may be hurting a good employee’s chances of landing another job, because, so the thinking goes, if this candidate did a good job, why wouldn’t a former employer be willing to say so? Many prospective employers see no-comment policies as a definite red flag. On the other hand, if a former employer intentionally and maliciously lies about a former employee, the result can be the same — no job offer. If that’s the case, and you think a former employer is intentionally lying about you, call a lawyer.

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