Marie recently had a phone interview and the employer never called her back even though she was very well qualified.
She has another phone interview coming up and would like to know how to answer the question, “why did you leave your last job?”
Marie’s Phone Interview Preparation Question:
I need your help on how to answer certain telephone interview questions. I was terminated from my last job.
Here’s what happened. A deaf person came to our Nursing home at 1:30 PM and needed to be admitted. My shift ended at 2 PM, but I went in and greeted the family anyway.
The daughter said she was a nurse and knew sign language and asked if she could be involved with the admission paper work. I did a small assessment of the patient her daughter did sign language to help me get answers.
The daughter was in a hurry and did not want to wait for the second shift nurse and asked if she could work on the admission paper work. I gave her the paper work and told her to only fill in the areas that she was comfortable with. We would finish the rest of the paperwork when the admission was done by second shift.
The next day our new Director of Nurses (DON) called me at home and asked why the admission papers were not signed. I told her 2nd shift was to follow-up. The DON said that the daughter asked the deaf resident for detailed information for her admission, which is not permitted by hospital policy.
I was fired. “You are terminated immediately. What you did was gross negligence, and your check will be mailed to you. You are not permitted to allow family members to ask patients questions about their medical history.” I never knew that and was not even given a warning.
So with all that being said, I had a phone interview with one of the biggest health care providers in my town and blew the interview in a bad way. I was very nervous because I was totally embarrassed about being fired for the first time at 44 years old.
I felt I was wrongfully terminated and did research about ADA (Americans with Disability Act), researched the company’s hand book, nursing statues and administrative codes. I talked about being fired, during the phone interview and explained my ADA research to them showing that I was right and my previous employer was wrong. I did not hear back from them after my phone interview.
I have another phone interview coming up, so how do I answer, “Why did you leave your last job?”
Would it be appropriate if I cited the unemployment bureau’s findings stating my termination was an isolated incident and that I was not given any warnings or ever aware that action would put her job in jeopardy?
I loved your book, you had so many good answers to these broad questions that are digging for negative sides of your work ethic and/or personality. The phone interview preparation section was just what I needed.
Don’s Phone Interview Answer:
It sounds like you have a great employment track record, but your recent termination is taking its toll on you and you feel the need to defend being wrongfully terminated to the last letter. I understand how you feel, I really do, but defending yourself and justifying your actions by citing ADA policy code to a potential employer is not the right way to get hired, which is your goal.
In any interview, its always paramount to focus on the positive and drop any negatives. An interview is not a court of law, but it sounds like you went in there and basically told them your past boss was wrong and you were right and here is why.
There is nothing to gain from this type of approach, except maybe you may feel a little redemption or validation by speaking out, but you’ll never get the job this way. Basically, your brain tricked you into going on the defense to protect your self-esteem and you lost sight of the end goal, to get the job.
Now with all that being said, I strongly suggest you let it (being fired) go. You were fired. So what. Lots of people get fired everyday without a valid reason. It can do wonders for your life if you choose to learn from it.
Sometimes it’s better to come clean, and other times there are more creative, though honest alternatives to choose.
You are biased and your mind is filled with many hateful and defensive emotions that cloud your decision to choose the best path, but it’s easy for me to listen to you and filter away all the negative aspects and decide what I think is your best approach.
If I were you, when asked that question in an interview, I would simply say that I was let go because of a minor policy violation. If they ask what it was, then just say: “I accommodated a family’s requests to be involved with the admission of their deaf mother, and management thought I accommodated too much.” Them maybe a little chuckle. That’s it. You should not elaborate any further because any attempt to do so will sound like an attempt to defend your actions and discredit your past employer which is taboo in an interview.
Resist the urge to defend your actions because that will be your downfall.
Just admit it. You were fired for a very small and insignificant reason. Don’t show them that it bothers you, just acknowledge it and move on. An interview is not a confession and you’re not on trial to defend why you were fired. You’re there to get hired for this job so focus on that and anything other than that is heading the wrong path.
You have just read a transcript of real problem posed by Marie, who is preparing for her next phone interview and is not sure how to answer the question, “why did you leave your last job?”
Inside the Complete Interview Answer Guide, Don shows job seekers how to answer telephone interview questions. The 201+ sample answers in the guide will quickly help you craft your own professional answers for ALL types of interview questions for any occupation.
More Phone Interview Preparation Techniques and Skills:
Interview for Success
Job Interview Preparation
Preparing for a Job Interview
How to Interview