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How to Interview After Being Fired for Insubordination

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If you’ve been fired for insubordination, you may worry that no employer will ever take a chance on you. Explain what happened with tact and honesty so prospective employers can see you’ve learned from the experience and that you’ll give nothing but your best if they hire you.

Talk to Your Previous Employer

If you’re worried what your previous boss will say if contacted by a prospective employer, tell him you’re concerned a bad reference will hinder your job search. Ask what he’ll say if contacted so you can address it during interviews. Also, contact your old company’s human resources department and ask how much information they reveal if an employer calls to verify employment. Some companies only confirm job titles and dates of employment, while others disclose the nature of an employee’s departure. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with your supervisor or HR department to provide only minimal information or a neutral reference.

Don’t Volunteer Too Much Information

Some interviewers won’t ask why you left your last job. In this case, don’t bring it up. Others may ask, but will not press you for details. Only reveal what you must without lying. For example, you could say that you and your previous boss didn’t see eye-to-eye. Or, say that you were unhappy at the company and it negatively affected your job performance. You could also tell the interviewer you faced difficulties in your personal life and that you unintentionally brought that stress with you to work.

Describe What You Learned

If you admit to an interviewer that you were fired for misbehavior, try to spin it in a positive direction. Portray the incident as a learning experience and describe the changes you’ve made so you don’t make the same mistake again. For example, tell the interviewer you realized you don’t work well with others and that you’ve worked hard to improve your interpersonal skills. Or, say the incident taught you that you can be inflexible and need to make an effort to be open to other people’s opinions and ways of doing things.

Focus on the Future

Don’t dwell on the fact that you were fired or why you left. If you address the situation, quickly shift your attention to your career goals and your enthusiasm about the job you’re interviewing for. For example, tell the interviewer that while your previous job was not a good match for you, you’re excited about what the job you’re interviewing for has to offer. Point out specific details, such as creative freedom or the collaborative team environment, and describe how these aspects attracted you to the position.

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