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Interviewing Tips/Would transparency be better?


QUESTION: I need to know how much I should say about my previous employer during an interview? I'll try to summarize. At my last job,everything was going great. I am really good at what I do (working with special needs adult with behavioral issues)There were no staff conflicts, I did what I was asked, I did task outside my job description(i.e. patched drywall on my own time)which the administrator thanked me repeatedly for,was never late, etc. It was nice,until I was sent to a state required course. I was asked about the class, and admitted I learned of some regulations the facility was violating. Then I was given time off without pay, hours were reduced, then I was "LAID OFF/LACK OFF WORK" via text and told I would be given an "EXCELLANT RECOMMENDATION". I am taking action for this.
 My problem is, I have had several promising interviews, some to the point of going in to fill out a W-4, have company ID badge made ,and so on, one to be told "sorry, we've decided to go with another applicant" or something similar. I believe it's because they are  receiving an untrue negative evaluation of my performance. They never took any disciplinary action, I was never even counseled. Should I bring this up during an interview? If so,how much?

ANSWER: Hi Janice,

It is unfortunate that you have to deal with this. If you are losing out on opportunities after reaching to the final stages, it is possible that you are receiving a negative reference. Normally I would not advise speaking about issues with previous employers, however in this case you need to take them off your reference list, and so you will have to explain the circumstances. Keep it brief, and don't go into too many details - "there were some things that they did that were against regulations, when I tried to bring it up, unfortunately they were not receptive to it", or something to that effect should suffice.

In a situation like this, it is your word against someone else' so it is crucial that you have enough other data that show a good background, for example:

1. do you have any positive emails/reviews from them?
2. any positive reviews/feedback from other supervisors/co-workers?
3. other references who will give you a good recommendation?
4. Longevity/success in other positions

Good luck in your search!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank You for the advise, The hard part is that its mostly family run, Mother is the owner, Daughter is the administrator,uncle and step-dad are staff,I got to be good friends with a new hire over the 6 weeks she worked at a 2nd home,she was completely shocked and is afraid of repercussion for what she did tell me. I did get an attorney,because in CA there is a specific labor code against this, So,no,there is no else to refer a potential employer to, and prior to that, I worked as an Independent Contractor for one family for nearly 7 yrs,and they wrote me an EXCELLENT,glowing recommendation but employers are reluctant to hire based solely on them since it wasn't a company. I was pretty sure bringing up the legal issues was a big NoNo. I guess my only option is to wait til court (or settlement)and force them to provide a written recomendation,huh ?

If you don't have other referrals from the same place, then just be professional and sincere (don't come across bitter) in the interview and hope that employers will trust your side of the story. Employers will give weightage to the recommendation that you received even when you were an independent contractor. You can also try to collect personal references (even though professional are preferred) from other people in authority positions if possible like a teacher, a coach etc. to help your case.


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Deepa Barve, CIR


I can answer questions regarding interviews, resumes, cover letters and job searching in general. I can answer questions from both candidates (interviewee), as well as hiring managers, supervisors, and recruiters; in other words the "interviewer". I have a large network, so I can also provide resources and referrals. I have over 7 years of recruiting experience and inside information on how hiring managers think and select candidates, and I would love to share this knowledge with job-seekers to enable them to find their dream job.


I am the Lead Technical Recruiter for an engineering consulting firm, and I have been in recruiting for over seven years. I have recruited for a variety of positions (exempt, non-exempt, executive) and worked across diverse industries (hi-tech, retail, hospitality, medical device). For more information, please visit my profile on LinkedIn.

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