How do I explain to an interviewer that I was fired?

Well, they said “separated”, but it really means the same, I think. I basically made a couple of small procedural errors, but I worked in a casino so we have both onsite and State folks looking over our shoulders. (I can give more info if needed). I’m not bitter, I made the mistakes and they properly called me on it. My concern now is getting a new job. I have an interview this week: what do I say?

Are you applying for a similar position for another casino?

If not, just explain, that you made a small error but in the casino business, these small errors have grave complications.

No but it IS a State job, so I probably shouldn’t badmouth them. :slight_smile:

If you are not applying for another Casino position just say in hindsight the Casino environment is not you choice of place to make a career. Easy to define…hours, pressure from State and onsite etc. Don’t elaborate unless further questioned. If you are applying in the same Casino arena, tell them what tripped you up, explain that you now have done (fill in the blank here) to no longer have that weakness. Don’t miss-represent and learn from the past.

If you are applying at another casino, you pretty much have to fess up to exactly what the problem is, as they are going to find out anyway.
Otherwise, were the “small procedural errors” stealing money or something?
Then you would have to be honest as it might turn up on a background check.
If not - if it was something simple like failing to fill out form 2375A, or forgetting to lock some door or something, you could probably just be honest about it.

However, I would just stick to the standard, vague reason of “downsizing”. A catch-all phrase. Most people understand some jobs are eliminated due to economic downturns, restructuring, etc.

But can’t they just ask my previous employer? And the mistake I made was this: I had a license renewed and did not realize (and was not told) that my personal number, which I’d used since 2009, had been changed. I wrote it on a couple of forms used to transfer chips. Even some of my bosses were surprised that it was changed (it doesn’t make sense to change it, but that’s neither here nor there). The second time was simple brainfart; I wrote the right number on 3 of the 4 papers.

Like I said, I made the mistakes and I accept it. And no, I’m applying at PHEAA.

Sounds to me like a mistake, but a very understandable and reasonable one, that could happen to anyone. I guess casinos have strict rules, but it doesn’t sound like something one would have been fired over.

If I was hiring I’d just ask, “you won’t make that error again, will you?” and when you said “No!” then I’d figure we understood each other and let it go.

Still…I’m not sure it’s in the OP best interest to explain that in detail. As you wrote, it seems over the top to fire someone over such a minor mistake. So, the person doing the hiring might get suspicious and wonders if there isn’t more to the story than what the OP is saying.

Hmm…this could actually be trickier that I thought.
I work for a college and they take fingerprints and do a background check.
I wouldn’t worry about the background check (no crime to find), but they will make a call. The fact that these little errors were serious enough for you to have to be fired is not a good thing.

If I understand correctly, you are going to be dealing with college loans and paperwork?
See how minor slip-ups like this might be a “big deal” for them?

I think you have to tell them the truth and hope they can look past this - but I know when I fill out paperwork and screw up, there are all kinds of problems - from the school, from accreditation and from pissed off students. That is just academics! I am not in the Financial Aid department - they have a lot more pressure to make sure everything is in perfect order or they really get into trouble. Lawsuit trouble.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a history of procedural errors might indeed be a deal breaker with this company.

One little addition to my post - legally your other employer can NOT go into the details of the reason you were fired. They can only say you worked there from this date to that date - so I guess you could just cover this up and avoid going into the specifics. They will never be able to discover the exact reason unless you tell them.

In your case - I think that is the best way to go.

No. “Separation” encompasses “quit,” “termination,” and “layoff.” When I was doing unemployment benefits law, we used the term to avoid quibbles over the exact reason the claimant no longer worked for the employer.

So…how do I word it?

“Unfortunately, due to company restructuring, my position with them was terminated.”

That would not be a “lie” - they restructured their work force (fired you) and were forced to hire someone else to fill your position. You just aren’t going into detail about the how and why your job was filled by someone else.

That makes sense. I’m too damn honest sometimes, but that sounds reasonable.

Can you cite the law that says this? I’m pretty sure there is none; most companies just choose to limit what they say to reduce the risk of being accused of libel.

My ex-boss says that they don’t answer those questions. They have a company that they forward the questions to. Does that sound likely?

Citing a law on the books? Well, no.
But I worked for attorneys in both California and Nevada - and over the years, many were fired for various reasons - some quite serious, others less so.

Still - we were told that by law we were only required - and allowed - to state that so-and-so did indeed work there from this date to that date. No further info or “dirt” about the reasons behind them no longer working there - period.
We were not allowed to even say if the employee was fired or quit. No other information was given.
The same was true at the film studio where I worked. I knew a lot of people in Human Resources there. I think they were the people who told me it was illegal for them to say anything more - specifically for the libel reasons you mentioned.

Once again - I highly doubt anyone is going to be forthcoming about the reasons.
The company they forward questions to is most likely a law firm and I am certain they are not going to sit on the phone and gossip about the how and what and who.

Also, it makes the employer (in your case, the casino) look bad as well. Take a step back and look at this from their perspective - you have put them in a position they don’t want to discuss.
There is no reason for them to ever want to air their dirty laundry to someone calling in.

There is absolutely no reason for you to volunteer more information than the employer is able to get on their own. Nowadays there are huge barriers, both legal and procedural, to their discovering the exact circumstances of the separation. Some companies are terrified of the legal ramifications of giving a negative reference. Some companies have outsourced it to a third party that tasks it out to a robot (a website or some phone IVR system).

Do you think they’ll tell you why the last guy in the position left, and what they were paying him? No. Companies already enjoy an overwhelming advantage over the applicant in terms of information. Don’t increase the gap. Lie or conceal negative information that you know won’t impact your job performance.

Moved to our advice forum, IMHO, from MPSIMS.