FAQ Series 1 – With Real Life Examples

In this first of several blog posts which I will make periodically on FAQ subjects, I will answer a few questions, and then provide you with the answer using real life examples. 

Today’s blog is on terminations and references.


Q: I was recently fired from my last job. How do I address this in the interview?

I am asked this question occasionally by my clients who are wondering how to get around this subject in an interview.  The best thing to do in this situation is to answer the question briefly but not negatively, and then immediately go into positives about how much you enjoyed working for their company.

For example:  You were recently fired from your company (for this example, we will use ABC Company, but it could be any company) who hired a new manager.  This new manager did not like you. You are in an interview and the prospective employer asks you, “Why did you leave ABC company?”

Here are two ways of answering that question. See if you can guess which one is better.

Answer A. “Well, they hired a new manager, and we didn’t get along. Her management style was horrible, and she was out to get me from day one.”

Answer B. “In my department, I was in the midst of company changes, which eliminated my position.  However, I enjoyed working for ABC Company very much!  In my 10 years of employment with ABC Company, I communicated well with all my supervisors and coworkers. The team atmosphere was extraordinary!  I enjoyed the strong work ethic culture, and was very dedicated to the team.”

Obviously, the answer is B! When the prospective employer hears the answer in B (or something similar), he or she will remember the positive things. On the other hand, if you tell them the answer in A, they will only remember that you “didn’t get along with your manager”, and this may call into question your ability to work effectively in a team environment.

Remember to always stay positive, and never say anything negative about your former supervisor or company (even if you don’t like them!).



Q. Who should I use as references?

I always tell my clients that you should use references that are your biggest fans!

For example, a reference that would say something to the extent of,

 “She was a good employee, and I would recommend her” would not be my idea of a reference to list.

On the other hand, here is an example, of a great reference:

“She was fantastic!  When I worked with her at ABC Company, she was always available to assist with special projects. She was very reliable, and people loved her! I find her to be a responsible and upstanding individual, and I would highly recommend her for your company!”

This reference is the one to use, because this reference will leave a great impression in the interviewer’s mind about the type of employee you will be.

My litmus test for who to use as a reference is to use those individuals who will say great things about you. This is a great reference. But who do you use?  You have a lot of resources at your disposal.

For example, let’s say you are a warehouse manager at ABC Company. Not only can you use your coworkers and/or managers, but you can also use vendors or suppliers who you deal with regularly. You can also use customers, or even carriers that frequent your business.  You can also use manufacturing representatives of products you purchase, or even purchasing agents of companies if you are in charge of the ordering for your company.  The list goes on! Also, you can use individuals outside of your business, such as former coworkers/managers /customers/suppliers, etc. Also, you can use instructors (current or past), neighbors (as a character reference), leaders or members of clubs or organizations you belong to, etc.

As a rule of thumb, I would put together a reference list consisting of 3 references, perhaps 2 professional and 1 character reference, unless the company asks otherwise.

Remember to always ask these individuals first before you list them as a reference. This is necessary, especially if you haven’t spoken with them for a while. It would not be good if the employer contacts the reference you listed, and they don’t remember you, or are caught off guard. Make sure they will say great things about you! Also, don’t give the references to the prospective employer unless they ask.


Thank you for reading, and happy job hunting!



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