Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fired for Mistake on the Job

I transferred from the hospital I worked at to a clinic run by the same hospital. After three weeks at the clinic, I was fired for making a mistake. Not a deadly mistake, but a mistake, nonetheless, that I took full responsibility for. This was my first mistake like this in my 21 years in this profession.

I am now filling out job applications and have received job interviews in the same field. How do I handle the question, "Why did you leave your last place of employment?"
-- Maurice

Maurice, without knowing what the mistake was, it's hard to give a specific answer.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Before the interview, practise answering the question with an employment counselor or a friend who can be objective and help you figure out how much to disclose and how to say it.
2. Answer the question with complete honesty, take full responsibility, and assure the employer it will not happen again.
3. Go to your interview with one or more written recommendations from previous supervisors who will vouch for your excellence in work. Also, bring a reference sheet that lists several people in your profession who are willing to speak to the interviewer about your skills.

Is there a class you can take, or certification you can earn that would demonstrate your conviction not to repeat the mistake (the way one can go to traffic school in order to avoid getting a black mark on one's driving record)? If so, enroll right away so you can mention that in your interview.

We all make mistakes; your interviewer is no exception. Hopefully he or she will identify with your situation and give you a second chance, especially given the strong career you have under your belt. I wish you the best!

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