Job interview question

  1. I was told NOT TO SAY AT AN INTERVIEW THAT I LEFT MY JOB BECAUSE OF THE STRESS AND BAD WORKING CONDITIONS/TOO HIGH NURSE PATIENT RATIO/NO REGARD FOR PATIENT ACUITY, ETC.? BUT ISN'T THAT THE REAL REASON WHY PEOPLE LEAVE JOBS EVERYDAY? AM I SUPPOSED TO COME UP WITH SOME OTHER REASON SO NOT TO MAKE MY FORMER EMPLOYER LOOK BAD?

    WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE?
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   kranken_schwester
    I think the idea is to find a happy medium between expressing "concern for patient safety" and "inability to handle job stress". If I left a job because of unsafe ratios or other problems related to working conditions, I would absolutely relay that info in an interview, because it would reflect my high standards and ethics and demonstrate to the employer that I am serious about delivering safe care. However, if you go in saying "That last job was too stressful and I hated it", then it sounds like the problem lies with you and not with the facility. It's all about semantics.
  4. by   Daytonite
    as someone who interviewed plenty of people for nursing jobs let me advise you of this. if you say to me that you left your last job because of the stress, bad working conditions, high nurse patient ratio and no regard for patient acuity, this is the thinking that is going on in my mind (now, remember i've been in nursing for 30 years and held a lot of different jobs). please do not misunderstand and think that i am attacking you. i'm just giving you an honest opinion of what a person on the other side of the desk might be thinking about this applicant for a job.
    1. this person has a negative attitude.
    2. this person's ability to handle stress is under question.
    3. this person is judgmental.
    4. this person is a quitter.
    5. this person might be a chronic complainer that can't be satisfied.
    6. maybe the working conditions won't be any better here, then what?
    7. how would this person know how patient acuities are computed?
    8. i think this person left their job with bad feelings. what else was going on that they're not telling me? possible mistakes on the job? misbehavior? problems getting along with co-workers?
    9. possible problem employee.
    10. does this person even like being a nurse?
  5. by   llg
    Great post, Daytonite -- as usual. And may I add ...

    11. I wonder what bad things this applicant will say about us?
    12. Will this person stir up discontent amoung our staff?

    A job interview is not the place to trash your former employer. You want to project a positive, "can do" attitude. Don't detract from that. Simply say that the job was not a good fit for you and try to move the conversation toward the positve reasons why this new job seems like a wonderful opportunity that will suit your strengths and interests.

    If you are asked directly about how you felt about the staffing levels, etc., admit that you had some concerns and then try to move the conversation forward by bringing the focus back to something positive about the job for which you are applying.

    llg
  6. by   Antikigirl
    I try to put a spin on my reasons for leaving a facility as a proactive move for myself and positive thing.

    Instead of me saying that I distrusted my co-workers and management, I said "I felt I was in a position to move on from my former employer to gain more experience and work with a positive healthcare team like the team is here!".

    Instead of saying I felt there was unsafe ratios for pt care, I said "I felt my time would have been best used in a facility with more resources and staff available to help with patient needs than the last employer that had limitations to this".

    Instead of saying I was being taken advantage of, I said "I feel I hit the glass ceiling at my last employers facility, and I wish to do more for a longer period of time with a company that values their staff and appreciates employees with a wish to advance to their greatest potential in their company!".

    See...a postive proactive stance!
  7. by   humglum
    I'm a fan of the "not a good fit" response. I've used that in more interviews than I can remember. I then go on to list the things I enjoyed about the job and what I have learned and can take with me into future experiences.
    Never say anything negative, even if the job was a raging pit of fire you were happy to escape.
  8. by   Midwest4me
    Quote from TriageRN_34
    I try to put a spin on my reasons for leaving a facility as a proactive move for myself and positive thing.

    Instead of me saying that I distrusted my co-workers and management, I said "I felt I was in a position to move on from my former employer to gain more experience and work with a positive healthcare team like the team is here!".

    Instead of saying I felt there was unsafe ratios for pt care, I said "I felt my time would have been best used in a facility with more resources and staff available to help with patient needs than the last employer that had limitations to this".

    Instead of saying I was being taken advantage of, I said "I feel I hit the glass ceiling at my last employers facility, and I wish to do more for a longer period of time with a company that values their staff and appreciates employees with a wish to advance to their greatest potential in their company!".

    See...a postive proactive stance!
    Such excellent, creative responses, Triage! I am also in favor of "not a good fit".
  9. by   needrn
    Thanks all for your responses. I have had some interviews and I have never said anything to trash my former employer. I do talk about all the great skills I aquired while working there, and that I am ready to move on. Still a pretty harsh response, though, Daytonite!!! I would hate to think that an employer would assume all those things about me! The reason I got into nursing is that I like helping people, And I GET A GREAT SATISFACTION FROM DOING IT! NOT BEING ABLE TO HELP SOMEONE WHEN THEY NEED ME IS WHAT MAKES ME FEEL I HAVE FAILED AS A HEALTH PRACTITIONER AND A PERSON! (Can't you tell I am still a novice to nursing? This coming from having a little over a year of experience...)
    Anyways, thanks LLG for the "not a good fit" idea and TRiAGE'S positive outlook! I have three interviews lined up for next week, so WISH ME LUCK!

    I'll keep you posted...
  10. by   Daytonite
    Quote from needrn
    still a pretty harsh response, though, daytonite!!! i would hate to think that an employer would assume all those things about me!
    please. . .it was not my intent to hurt you. i was trying to give you an idea of what might be going on in the mind of the person interviewing you. i intended it to be blunt. i apologize if it was upsetting.

    when i was first offered a job as a nurse manager i got no orientation to the job. sound familiar? i should have turned it down. i was left to flounder in my own mistakes. the place was desperate to fill managerial openings and i was willing. with no background in interviewing and hiring (can you believe they just let a newbie manager just interview and hire licensed staff without any kind of guidance!?) i made some huge errors in judgment. one of them was sympathizing with interviewees who openly, without any prompting, admitted having problems or felt like they were taken advantage of in their previous jobs. i'd been a staff nurse for many years in many different places and knew how bad things could be. one or two of these people that i ended up hiring turned out to be real problem employees that were more trouble than they were worth. lesson learned: there are two sides to every story and at an interview only one side is being presented. there is almost always the other side's view which is usually going to remain unknown because of confidentiality rules. the other lesson learned: a person who easily displays a negative attitude during an employment interview is usually a negative person that exudes this negativity on a regular basis which is going to bring everyone else around them down.

    in any case, my intention was to help you think about how to respond to some of the hard questions that you knew you were probably going to be asked at an interview. believe me, i've faced your situation a few times as i left jobs due to conflicts with other workers or got mad at my bosses. i wish you well and sincerely hope your next position turns into a dream job for you. :1luvu:
  11. by   mamason
    Daytonite,
    I am curious. Like the OP, I left my last job due to unsafe pt care. What are the confidentiality rules and such. I'm worried that my last manager may give me a bad reference when I apply for another job. She and I did not see eye to eye on a lot of things.
  12. by   Jolie
    Quote from mamason
    Daytonite,
    I am curious. Like the OP, I left my last job due to unsafe pt care. What are the confidentiality rules and such. I'm worried that my last manager may give me a bad reference when I apply for another job. She and I did not see eye to eye on a lot of things.

    Most institutions have policies limiting the reference information they will give to dates of employment, and eligibility for re-hire. There is no law preventing your previous employer from sharing other information, but it rarely happens due to potential liability issues.

    If a future employer calls your previous employer, they are likely to be routed to Human Resources, where an employee who probably never knew you will look into your file and answer the above questions. Your manager will not likely be involved. If she is, one would hope that she would stick to objective information and not get into personal differences.

    If you strongly suspect that she will attempt to sabotage your job seeking efforts, I would recommend that you make an appointment with Human Resources, and request to view your file. Make a copy of your most recent evaluation and take it along with you to your future interviews as evidence of acceptable on-the-job performance. Also, think of a couple of other employees (perhaps a charge nurse and nursing supervisor) with whom you had good relationships and ask them to write letters of reference (in advance) for you to take along to your interviews.

    Good luck!
  13. by   mamason
    Jolie,
    Thank you for the info and encouraging advice. Yes, I still have friends and a charge nurse that currently work there. And I feel they would most likely give me a good reference.
  14. by   Daytonite
    Quote from mamason
    i am curious. like the op, i left my last job due to unsafe pt care. what are the confidentiality rules and such. i'm worried that my last manager may give me a bad reference when i apply for another job. she and i did not see eye to eye on a lot of things.
    just like we nurses are obligated to keep what is going on with our patients as confidential, the same applies to the people who supervise and manager us. the rules of confidentiality are that managers, in particularly, are not supposed to discuss, or disclose, anything about an employee's personnel issues with anyone else who has no business knowing about them. that means that (s)he shouldn't be discussing your performance reviews, disciplinary actions or any personal feelings about your job performance with people such as your same level co-workers and, in particular, anyone outside the facility. that includes someone who is asking about a reference on you for a job. unless a manager is incredibly stupid in today's world, they can get their pants sued off if a former employee can prove that a former employer caused them to lose a job offer because of subjective, unprovable (and that's what most references boil down to) comments they made to a prospective employer of yours. now, within your own facility, a manager can discuss problems that they have with an employee with their own superiors as long as it is within a business context.

    when you are applying for jobs, use people for references that you know like you and where there is little worry that they might trash you in a reference. in all the facilities where i was a manager, we managers were all instructed, in no uncertain terms, not to give out any personal references for former employees. any requests for job references like this were to be given immediately to the human resources department (hr). hr handles them, for legal purposes. the only information they will release is the date you were hired, the last day of your employment and whether or not you terminated voluntarily (quit on your own) or involuntarily (were fired). and, usually they will only verify or deny this information with the person calling and not give out the actual dates of your hire and termination. they will almost never give out any information about any disciplinary actions either because of the legal problems it could cause them if you come back and sue for disclosure of confidential employee information. that is despite any waiver you signed with a prospective employer to relieve them of all responsibility regarding the obtaining of references from a former employer. this is why i'm always mentioning in posts i make about interviewing that a good interviewer can get a job applicant to talk and sometimes reveal these things or at least bring out their character flaws so that confidential disclosure by a former employer doesn't even become an issue.

    if you ever want to double check to see if a former employer is following these "rules", you or a friend can merely call and ask for a reference on you. have your social security number and dates of hire and last day of work in front of you since they will ask for these. see what comes of it. just for fun give them a phony date of termination and see what they say. even better, push them a little and ask for information about disciplinary actions or attendance information and see what they say. most will flatly tell you that they can't give out that information and are usually shocked or flabbergasted that someone would even ask for it.

    there is something else that employees can do upon leaving employment where they have had "problems" that you may not be aware of to assure that no one mistakenly releases information about you. you write a letter addressed to the person in charge of human resources specifically directing them to (1) place this letter in your permanent file, and (2) never release any information to anyone about anything in your personnel file except for your date of hire and termination. you can also specify that they are not to disclose whether or not you gave the facility required length of notification of termination. keep a copy of the letter forever. if there is ever a doubt that they might do you wrong, call them periodically and ask for a reference to see if they are following your instructions. after a couple of years, you are just a name on a file anyway. not only that, but most prospective employers aren't interested in what employers farther back than a couple of years have to say about you unless you stayed at one place for years and years.

    if you want to show prospective employers that you were a good employee at a previous place of employment, show them copies of your lastest yearly evaluations. every employee is entitled to a copy of every written evaluation (or disciplinary actions). if you don't have them, you merely go to hr and tell them you never got one from your manager. they must supply you with them. some places, before your last day of work, will give you the opportunity to review your permanent personnel file and permit you to make copies of some of the things in it. this is your right as an employee. however, once you terminate, you no longer have the right to access that information, so get it before you quit.

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