What do I say in a job interview if I was FIRED from my last job?

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    Dec 27, 2011 5:17 PM GMT
    I worked at a gas station, and we sold alcohol and tobacco. We're supposed to card if the person looks under 30. Sometimes we get people that do compliance checks. People come in who are 21-25 years old, and if we don't card them we get one strike. Three strikes-- you're out. That's what happened to me. All three were unfortunate situations that happened so quickly, and I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Anyway, I'm a little afraid that getting fired might hurt my chances of getting a job in the future. My previous employer (the job I was fired from) actually likes me, so I don't think that will be a problem. Still, I don't want to get caught in a lie, and they will ask why I left the job.

    What do I say? I could explain why I was fired. Since it wasn't anything bad, it shouldn't affect me too much. Then again, maybe it will.

    Anyone been in this situation? Am I pretty much screwed?
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    Dec 27, 2011 5:35 PM GMT
    You'll be really screwed if you lie and they find out. Why would they hire someone they can't trust, just tell them the truth, you screwed up but you learned your lesson.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Dec 27, 2011 5:36 PM GMT
    I'm not sure what the law is in Minnesota, but in most states a past employer is only allowed to confirm that you worked there, and can give no information on your reasons for leaving. If you say your employer likes you, ask him if he would write a letter of recommendation. Maybe he would. That being said, look at this experience as a lesson --- follow the rules of your employer. 3 strikes is 3 strikes.
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    Dec 27, 2011 5:41 PM GMT
    Never been in that situation, but based on my general knowledge of employment situations, my suggestions are:
    1) Ask your employer if he would definitely give you a good character reference, or better yet, write a letter of recommendation. Don't assume or pressure him to tell you what you want to hear.

    2) Do not lie or misrepresent under any circumstances. It will come back to haunt you.

    3) The question will come up, and prepare your answer. Factual but not defensive. You can explain how things happened quickly with impatient customers, and with a judgement call who was 25 versus 27 it could be difficult. Admit your errors, and say it was a learning experience, or something like that.
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    Dec 27, 2011 5:42 PM GMT
    Dissonance saidI worked at a gas station, and we sold alcohol and tobacco. We're supposed to card if the person looks under 30. Sometimes we get people that do compliance checks. People come in who are 21-25 years old, and if we don't card them we get one strike. Three strikes-- you're out. That's what happened to me. All three were unfortunate situations that happened so quickly, and I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Anyway, I'm a little afraid that getting fired might hurt my chances of getting a job in the future. My previous employer (the job I was fired from) actually likes me, so I don't think that will be a problem. Still, I don't want to get caught in a lie, and they will ask why I left the job.

    What do I say? I could explain why I was fired. Since it wasn't anything bad, it shouldn't affect me too much. Then again, maybe it will.

    Anyone been in this situation? Am I pretty much screwed?


    No, you aren't screwed, but you probably shouldn't apply for a job that has the same type of responsibilities that got you fired from the previous job.

    You say that you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. That doesn't make sense in the context of carding someone when you are selling them age restricted substances. Is there more to the situation? It seems like there shouldn't be a question of whether you enforced this or not.

    In terms of what to say, you were let go because of failure to comply with the regulations. That's a tough thing to explain because the new employer will want to be certain that you are able to uphold the responsibilities of your new position.

    You say that your old employer still likes you. Any chance that you could get a letter of recommendation from them? Then, you could say that the job wasn't a fit for you, they decided to let you go, but the employer provided you with a positive recommendation. EDIT: If the reason comes up in conversation, you need to own up to it, though. I wouldn't intentionally hide it.
  • LuckyPierre

    Posts: 192

    Dec 27, 2011 5:44 PM GMT
    If they ask just say you had some scheduling conflicts and they were unable to work with you on those.
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    Dec 27, 2011 5:45 PM GMT
    I agree with Todd - get a letter from the last employer (since you indicated he likes you.) Here's what I'm thinking most states will allow prospective employers to ask former employers:

    1. Did John Doe work there, and what dates?
    2. What was his job title?
    3. Is he eligible for rehire?

    Correct me if I'm wrong (anyone) but that third question will be something your ex boss might have to answer "no" to. So - your letter will help out. If he won't do a letter, then just look the prospective employer right in the eye and very briefly tell what happened. Return the conversation to something positive, such as all the good work you put in - and how you're on time, clean, responsible, friendly to customers, great with co-workers, etc. Good luck.

    I've been fired from a job when my sexuality came out. I couldn't use that employer for a reference. Thankfully the bastard (broker) had not been there long. I was well liked by the previous broker - and I had kept in touch with her, so I used her. When asked why I was using a previous broker instead of the current one - - - - I honestly said the previous broker could offer a broader assessment of my skills since I had worked for her for a long time, as opposed to the very short time I worked for the last guy - the homophobic s.o.b.
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    Dec 27, 2011 5:50 PM GMT
    Dissonance saidI worked at a gas station, and we sold alcohol and tobacco. We're supposed to card if the person looks under 30. Sometimes we get people that do compliance checks. People come in who are 21-25 years old, and if we don't card them we get one strike. Three strikes-- you're out. That's what happened to me. All three were unfortunate situations that happened so quickly, and I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Anyway, I'm a little afraid that getting fired might hurt my chances of getting a job in the future. My previous employer (the job I was fired from) actually likes me, so I don't think that will be a problem. Still, I don't want to get caught in a lie, and they will ask why I left the job.

    What do I say? I could explain why I was fired. Since it wasn't anything bad, it shouldn't affect me too much. Then again, maybe it will.

    Anyone been in this situation? Am I pretty much screwed?


    off topic, but you are so cute.

    I hope you can find a new job. who really cares if some teen drinks alcohol. I didn't wait until I was 21 to drink alcohol....in fact, my mom was so cool she bought the alcohol for me. icon_lol.gif

    I think the alcohol age should be lowered to 18. The voting age used to be 21....but then it was lowered to 18. why not make it consistent with that.

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    Dec 27, 2011 5:56 PM GMT
    I am a business professor who teaches this in classes.

    You don't bring it up unless they ask you. If they ask you, you be honest, but you spin it in the most positive way and explain what you learned from it and how you will use this lesson to improve in the future - then turn it back around and talk about the positive things you can do for their business.

    You can overcome it. Some job interviews will fail and some won't. But you still have to try.
  • JonPk

    Posts: 132

    Dec 27, 2011 5:59 PM GMT
    Dissonance saidI worked at a gas station, and we sold alcohol and tobacco. We're supposed to card if the person looks under 30. Sometimes we get people that do compliance checks. People come in who are 21-25 years old, and if we don't card them we get one strike. Three strikes-- you're out. That's what happened to me. All three were unfortunate situations that happened so quickly, and I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Anyway, I'm a little afraid that getting fired might hurt my chances of getting a job in the future. My previous employer (the job I was fired from) actually likes me, so I don't think that will be a problem. Still, I don't want to get caught in a lie, and they will ask why I left the job.

    What do I say? I could explain why I was fired. Since it wasn't anything bad, it shouldn't affect me too much. Then again, maybe it will.

    Anyone been in this situation? Am I pretty much screwed?
    Tell the truth. Don't lie. I was fired from a job and told the person interviewing me at a job interview why I was fired and she hired me because I was so honest during the interview!
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Dec 27, 2011 6:09 PM GMT
    I also want to add to what the others have said and encourage you to be honest about it IF it comes up. Spin it in a positive way, making sure that the person you are applying for a job with understands that it was important lesson learned for you. Keep in mind that we have all probably been fired from a job at one time or another -- it happens -- and it certainly doesn't mean you're screwed when it comes to getting another job.
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    Dec 27, 2011 6:27 PM GMT
    As an employer, I value honesty maybe more than anything. I don't care how smart or hard working somebody is...you can't train them to have an honest character.

    If the interviewer likes you, he will build an excuse in his own mind that puts you in a better light or discounts it.....i.e. he must have had inadequate training. More likely, your new employer will say....hire him now, he's an honest and hard working guy.
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    Dec 27, 2011 7:21 PM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidI also want to add to what the others have said and encourage you to be honest about it IF it comes up. Spin it in a positive way, making sure that the person you are applying for a job with understands that it was important lesson learned for you. Keep in mind that we have all probably been fired from a job at one time or another -- it happens -- and it certainly doesn't mean you're screwed when it comes to getting another job.



    I was going to say this. If I was interviewing someone in your situation and I asked, "Why did you leave that job?" and the applicant lied about it, I wouldn't hire them. However if they said,

    "We were required to card everyone who looked under 30 and one night I was very busy and I didn't card someone and we got in trouble. I felt very badly about it, and it taught me an important lesson that rules are there for a purpose. I am much more careful about not only following rules, but understanding their purpose so that I can be more diligent. I will say that if you called them, they will tell you that I "

    See?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 27, 2011 7:30 PM GMT
    I always tell them about my previous job and why I believe I'll be more suited to the new job . Sell yourself the besst you can whilst telling the truth.

    Weigh up the pros and cons of your previous jobs as evidence of life experience in your interview and why your new job would suit you and your employer better than your old job.

    Dress for success and smile. Maintain eye contact. Don't fidget. Don't lookd down. Stand tall and proud. Be very professional and business focussed.
    Shake hands like you mean it.
    Use job specific cover letters to impress them.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 27, 2011 8:21 PM GMT
    You can always just not mention it.

    Leave that job off your resume.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 27, 2011 9:18 PM GMT
    you can tell them that you perfer they didn't call that employer and say you left for personal reasons. It's simple.
  • flahotstuff

    Posts: 154

    Dec 27, 2011 9:20 PM GMT
    Learn how to lie very well- get creative on that resume!
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    Dec 27, 2011 9:30 PM GMT
    Well, regardless of whose fault it was, it doesn't matter at this point. In developing a good answer for future interviews, don't place blame, be truthful, and explain how you have learned from the experience.

    This article is pretty good job on how to explain to a potential employer:

    http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2010/10/04/in-a-job-interview-how-to-explain-you-were-fired

    And FYI, during a reference check, a potential employer can not legally ask your ex-employer why you were fired. They only thing they can legally ask is, "Under the right circumstances, would you hire this person again?" If you ever find out that your ex-employer shared this information, you have a good case for legal action, if that's what you want to do.
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    Dec 27, 2011 9:35 PM GMT
    How long were you at the job?

    But as fas as that coming up in an interview, as someone who used to do the hiring for ocmpanies int he past, your situation is really bad. You were corrected on the same issue 3 times and eventually fired for repeating it. You didn't learn anything. And minors and i.d. checks are pretty big issues.

    So since your issue is pretty severe and really you could be terminated after one infraction, I would not mention 2 of the 3 times you didn;t check i.d. and got caught. Focus on one instance.

    "I knew the rules, I failed to check i.d. on a customer who could have been questionable and was terminated for it, there was a 0 tolerance policy. I was rushed, it was busy. But in hindsight I should have asked for I.D.. It was my fault, I learned from the situation and it will never happen again. My employer and I have a good relationship, but his hands were tied by policy."

    And in the future when someone tells you something is wrong, learn from it :/
  • zenmonkie

    Posts: 228

    Dec 27, 2011 11:27 PM GMT
    Yeah been there myself. If it means being able to pay your bills, by all means lie.
    Obviously you're not up for a job as the President's aid, so they really have no way or care to confirm or disprove whether you stretch the truth or not. Always better to say you either quit or were laid off. Telling a prospective employer that you were fired from your previous position, you might as well be walking in with a sign hanging from your neck saying "DO NOT HIRE".
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    Dec 27, 2011 11:30 PM GMT
    In many cases, it's better to say you were fired than say you quit.
    At least being fired shows you'll stick it out to the bitter end.
    Quitting makes you sound like a quitter.
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    Dec 27, 2011 11:50 PM GMT
    Legally they can't ask for more than the basic facts about your previous job. Honesty is good if you can tell it from a place of self acceptance. In other words, if you can say it from an at easy position than most likely so will the potential employer. That being said, the best advice I have gotten about interviewing is that you are supposed to sell the idea of yourself to the potential boss. They are gonna train you anyway. Say what you have to to get the job.seriously dude, you worked at a gas station. I am betting that your next job is not going to be as a brain surgeon. This idea of such honesty for a job that level, really? If your tattoo 's are spelled correctly and your police record is clean will be enough.
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    Dec 27, 2011 11:51 PM GMT
    happytomd saidLegally they can't ask for more than the basic facts about your previous job.
    Being fired for insubordination is basic.
    Plus, everything is "legal" until you get caught.
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    Dec 28, 2011 12:04 AM GMT
    All the references about "illegal" questions aren't really true. You can ask detailed questions about why a person left, it just makes the company have to explain even harder why they rejected you, which isn't really as hard we think.

    I would not bring it up unless they ask, and then follow the spin method others advised. You don't have to tell them that you were given 3 strikes, just explain the last strike and what you've learned from it. It may not even be an issue if you're new job doesn't require you to handle alcohol.
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    Dec 28, 2011 12:12 AM GMT
    I'll go with most people's advice: don't lie, just try to spin it towards your new job.

    The reason I wouldn't lie, though, is not necessarily the same as what other people mentioned. The big problem with lying in an interview is that an experienced interviewer spots the discomfort that comes with lying. Unless you are an expert at that, you will probably feel bad about the lie and risk a bad interview AS A RESULT OF LYING.

    Sure, the truth may hurt you, especially if you want a job with similar responsibility. As someone who did a lot of hiring, though, I wouldn't hold it against you, provided you communicate that you understand you made a mistake, and that you put safeguards in place to make sure you won't make the same mistake again.

    And getting a letter of recommendation is a splendid idea! It can save your former employer a reference call, and I can tell you from experience that I ended up hating the frequency of those.