Explaining Past-Boss Personality Conflict to Prospective Employer

Julie writes:
I was fired from a job in July. My employer and I had personality
conflicts and she labeled me a negative person. At the time I was not angry at
her for firing me. I didn’t really care. However I have had leads for several
good jobs and have filled out applications for them knowing I was qualified
have had several interviews but am still unemployed. I have put on the application
for reason for leaving “will explain in interview.” I do not know what else to do.
How do you explain a personality conflict without sounding like a whiner? How
do I find out what the previous employer is telling prospective employers?
How long does a past employer count?

The Career Doctor responds:
I’m not a big believer in putting anything on a job application that could be
perceived as withholding information or as some negative aspect — and putting
“will explain in interview” is a big turn-off for me. It’s a red-flag that would put
you in the “maybe” pile at best.
That you have had some interviews is a good sign that not all employers
share my perception.
That said it has now been several months since you last worked and there are
several issues that raise concern. Please do not take this advice the wrong way –
because I see it every time I talk with someone who has been fired — you may
be psychologically damaged and that manifests itself in many ways.
Whenever job-seekers are getting interviews but not getting offers the first thing I
look at is performance in the interview. Yes you could be getting a harmful
reference from the old job but I really doubt it; most people just do not want to
take the risk of providing a negative reference. Instead you may be giving off a
verbal or nonverbal cue about the firing just enough to sabotage the interview.
My suggestion would be to contact one of the interviewers — one you felt rapport
with — and ask if s/he would mind sharing a critique of your interviewing skills.
That may provide you with some needed answers.
The other concern is time without a job. As the gap grows larger you may want
to pick up some consulting or temp work do some volunteering or something to
show you are actively involved and not just sitting at home.
Pick up some more tips and tools in this article published on Quintessential Careers:
Getting Fired: An Opportunity
for Change and Growth

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