How do I talk with potential employers about being fired?
June 2, 2014 7:30 PM Subscribe
Follow-up filter from last week
: how do I discuss my recent dismissal from a job I held for a year and a half with any potential employers?
posted by pxe2000 to Work & Money (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For a year and a half I worked as a receptionist at a generally well-regarded multinational with offices in New England, first as a temp and then as a permanent employee. My last 4-6 months at the company were less than ideal. We had a problem with offshore scam telemarketers calling, refusing to to put us on their no-call lists, and making obscene and harassing comments to me. One of my coworkers had non-sexually harassed me (told me that I "looked tired" and that I "should go home and get some sleep", sneaked up on me, came up with stupid nicknames for me, and made comments about my direct coworker to me in an attempt to play us off the other), and when I politely asked that he stop it he asked my coworker why I was "always acting like a bitch"*. Because I worked second shift, I rarely saw my supervisor or other people in my department, and got little support from my supervisor or the head of my department. A few of the telemarketers who had been calling and harassing me emailed the CEO and the CFO to complain that we disconnected their calls, and in spite of my contact with my supervisor about these calls they opted to let me go**.
I've been applying to various temp agencies and permanent jobs, but whenever I've gone in for an interview the question of "why did you leave your former company" has come up. I've always deflected the question with the answer "they're a great company, but it wasn't the right fit for me". I'd been told that I didn't want to mention that I got fired at an interview for a new job, and that if I discussed the specific reasons why I had to leave the company suddenly I would sound like I was badmouthing them...hence the mealy-mouthed response. On a few occasions potential employers would come back with "but I don't understand why you left without a position lined up." I met with a recruiter today who basically beat out of me the reason why I left suddenly, and he said that my response raised questions with potential employers.
Is there a way to answer the question of my dismissal from my previous job honestly, without seeming like I'm BS-ing or talking smack about my former employers?
* I went directly to HR with a complaint against this coworker, since my supervisor was on a business trip and the head of my department had left for the day. (The head of my department was usually gone by the time I started work.) This landed in my boss's lap as soon as she returned, and I didn't have time to let her know that I'd spoken with HR.
** My letter of termination specifically states that I was fired for "disconnecting callers". I exchanged a series of emails with my supervisor with the names of the companies on whose behalf the callers claimed to be contacting us, their phone numbers, the time of day they called, etc. We were unable to block the calls from inside the company, and once the calls stepped over the line of professionalism (one of the callers bodily threatened me and referred to me as the c-word), I began disconnecting the calls. This wasn't a problem until a few of the telemarketers emailed the CEO to complain about how myself and my coworker were disconnecting the calls. (Many of them used false names -- we had one email from a "Tom Collins" and another from a "Mickey Finn".) Since I worked second shift, I got the brunt of the calls. I kept copies of my termination letter and the emails I sent to my boss, in case anyone in the thread wants to see them.