I was fired.
July 21, 2011 5:55 PM   Subscribe

I was fired. How do I handle my job search/interview situation?

The reality of it is that I got into a loud, aggressive, short altercation with a fellow employee. The other fellow was provoking me, and I flipped out.
I know I should have handled this a bit better, but I think the substance of the altercation wasn't a good reason for the firing. There was no violence, nor the threat of violence.
The manager that fired me said that she consulted with her superior and the result was that I was let go.
The kicker: There was an unrequited-love dynamic between me and the manager. She probably was getting me out of her sight to reduce the anguish she feels as a single mother. She has, over the last few years, been dumped repeatedly. Seeing me every day was, I feel, a big part of the decision. How she presented the situation to her superior was undoubtedly key in the decision.
The job isn't glamorous: pizza delivery.
I will probably look for the same work at a different company.
I have done this for over 10 years.

How should I address the reality of this on applications and in interviews? Lie? Tell the truth? How should I tell this truth to a prospective employer?
posted by noonknight to Work & Money (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know exactly what you should say but you should absolutely not mention the whole "my manager fired me because she wanted me too bad and it was too painful for her to not have me because she is an anguished single mother" bit. It might be true enough, but if I was hiring and you said something phrased like that to me I would think you were maybe either a bit full of yourself, or had problems with women. Just saying.

I would probably tell the truth, emphasising that the altercation was not violent, very out of character and that you've learned valuable lessons about proper ways of resolving conflict with coworkers.
posted by lwb at 6:08 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Well, the "truth," as they say, is somewhere in between. I'm going to guess that hiring managers are more concerned about your driving record and upsell qualities than this. I think you first need to call back this manager and apologize and explain that you know it got out of hand and it will never happen again. Then tell this person that you'll be looking for new work ASAP and you hope that they can otherwise recommend you. If you have another person there who can be a good reference then be sure to include them.

If I were you, I'd include the dates and not bring it up at all unless they specifically ask why you left. Focus them on all the positive things you learned there and they may never raise the issue. If they do ask, I'd tell the most innocuous version possible and look sheepish while doing it. You had a too-loud personal argument with a co-worker and the manager fired you. You were shocked to be fired but you learned a valuable lesson and it will never happen again and you will never bring personal issues to the workplace again.

Then redirect to all your good skills and give them some references.

Kitchen managers have seen it all and they know how it goes. They also frequently do not check references and for that reason I'd be tempted to say that I was pursuing something else but it didn't work out (starting school, freelancing, etc.).

Good luck.
posted by amanda at 6:12 PM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Uh. Unrequited love led to your firing? Really? That strikes me as implausible. Whatever you say to a future employee, that should not be on your list. Blaming other people for you getting fired is not going to get you far in life, whether you think you're in the right or not.
posted by dfriedman at 6:27 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't mention it. Honestly when I hear fired from delivery I assume drugs or stealing not violence. Most people would still hire someone with those exact problems for that same job. Its low skill work in need of reliable hires. You've worked in it for 10 years. If you have difficulty finding similar work I wouldn't think this incident had anything to do with it.
posted by Rubbstone at 6:34 PM on July 21, 2011

My brother spent a couple years getting fired from every pizza place in the county, yet never had that much trouble getting hired as a driver. I get the impression that, like amanda says, hiring policies at most pizzerias aren't that fussy. Don't worry so much.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 6:37 PM on July 21, 2011

Maybe use this as a time to switch into something that's not considered dead end? I say do what you like, but if you weren't excited about pizza now is the time to make a change. As far as new jobs go you can then say, "It was time to move on."
posted by cjorgensen at 6:43 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just say it wasn't a fit. And stop projecting ambiguous mental states onto your boss.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:50 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've managed pizza restaurants and hired plenty of delivery drivers. Some of them had gotten fired from other pizza places. If I need a driver and you come in with experience, a good driving record, a reliable car, insurance, a good attitude, and an understanding that drivers have to do extra stuff like answering phones and helping clean at closing time, the fact that you got fired from another delivery job isn't going to be a deal breaker. Especially, as Rubbstone says, if it was only over an argument with a coworker. Drivers argue. That's just the way it goes. A bigger concern to me would be whether you come across as someone who is willing to learn to do things our way instead of the way they do things at the other pizza place.

Don't lie about getting fired but don't bring it up unless you're asked, and if you are asked just do like others have said -- say you got in an argument, take responsibility, don't make excuses, don't blame it on anybody else, and show that you've learned from it. If you're a good driver you'll be fine.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:51 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry that this happened to you, but loud, aggressive altercations are a perfectly valid reason for firing unless you're a WWE wrestler. No one wants to deal with fighty employees, violent or otherwise, and your employers really don't care what it was about in the first place. Not when they can easily find someone else who wants your job and can handle provocation in a professional manner. And I say this as someone is neither a single mother nor pining for you.

But this will not likely have any effect on your future employment. If asked, simply say that that particular pizza place was not a good fit for you, and you're looking forward to working with new people and more responsibility. If further explanation is required, stick to the facts. The instant you bring up the unrequited love theory is the instant you lose that job opportunity.
posted by katillathehun at 6:56 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

The kicker: There was an unrequited-love dynamic between me and the manager. She probably was getting me out of her sight to reduce the anguish she feels as a single mother. She has, over the last few years, been dumped repeatedly. Seeing me every day was, I feel, a big part of the decision. How she presented the situation to her superior was undoubtedly key in the decision.

You should have someone look at that narcissism.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:09 PM on July 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

It's entirely possible that you're right about why the manager decided to fire you. None of us can say. And I totally understand the need to justify getting fired from a job. But the reaction you're getting here for mentioning it is exactly why you can't bring it up at all when trying to find another job. Even if it is the absolute truth, it's just not going to come across in a good way. The rule is that you never speak badly about previous employers, even if everything you might say is true, when interviewing with potential new employers. It's all about demonstrating that your previous work experience, good and bad, makes you the best person for this job. Otherwise you're spending your interview time telling them why you might be the wrong person for the job, and that makes the decision easy if it comes down to you and someone else.
posted by Balonious Assault at 9:04 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

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