Fired with mutual agreement...what to tell interviewers

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    So, my first nursing job left me completely unprepared to handle a busy rehabilitation floor with only 14 days of orientation. I tried all the coaching and learning opportunities that were available and still couldn't hack it. I was there for 6 months and was fired with a mutual agreement that the job was not a good fit. Now, 3 months after, I am still sitting on unemployment and have had three interviews. All three interviewers pushed for a reason that the job was not a good fit and when I just wanted to leave the explanation at that, the interviewers pushed harder for a reason. I didn't know how to answer without making the last job look bad. How can I confront this? I do feel that the orientation was really lacking there and whenever I asked for help or guidance I got help, but they talked behind my back making me feel stupid. I tried to make it into a positive for what I did learn, but the interviewers around here seem to push for more information. How can I word it in an interview and not make the job look bad? Any help?
  2. 9 Comments so far...

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    I am in almost the same situation. And I feel for you.
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    The sick thing is, most of those 'interviewers' have either been canned themselves, or have fired nurse for no reason, and know perfectly well what reality is all about. So, it's almost as if they are voyeurs, sadists, even, asking such pointed questions. What games people play, eh? (A rhyme!)
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    I'd suggest take advantage of your jobsearch time and volunteer a day or two at the local free clinic and keep using your license. That way you'll gain experience and confidence in your chosen field.

    As suggested at How do you explain if you were fired from a previous job arrange with your former employer that you and the employer will say something to the effect that it was “mutually agreed to end the employment relationship” and you do not have to say that you were ever terminated. If you've did the volunteer work for awhile, you can spin the situation and show the previous employment was just a bad start and you've moved on. Avoid telling too many details, but be factual. Above all, avoid saying anthing negative about your former employer, or it'll look like you're whining or not taking responsibility for yourself.

    You know this question is coming in the interview, so develop your SMART Story to handle it: Situation and More, Action, Results, Tie-in (or Theme).
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    OK - devil's advocate here. It is a very good idea to figure out why you couldn't hack it in that job. If you don't understand what went wrong, you are doomed to repeat it. Self-examination is uncomfortable. I find it very painful to dig down and examine the 'root cause' of my failures. But the outcome is worth it. FYI, I have been terminated twice; neither one associated with any clinical issues.

    Turnover is very expensive. Healthcare organizations are working hard to decrease it. One of the keys is just to hire the right person in the first place. Therefore, they are adopting much more effective selection processes including standardized interviewing techniques such as behavioral interviewing - in which probing questions are asked. So,avoidance is not going to work. A much better approach is to be honest and articulate... 'own' your mistakes but make sure that you also are able to clearly explain what you learned and how your behavior has changed as a result.

    You can bounce back stronger than ever. A couple years from now, this will only be a bad memory. In ten years, you'll laugh about it.
    chare and llg like this.
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    Good info. My biggest mistake was leaving acute care and looking for a challenge as a new nurse. I think their expectations of a new nurse were just too high. I have heard over and over that even the most experienced nurses have issues with time management in a rehab environment like that. I know that I can handle up to 7 or 8 patients in an acute care environment, but rehab being sub-acute and having up to 22 patients at a time is just not something I can handle. I can see having that many in a LTC environment, because you don't have admissions and discharges on a daily basis, extensive dressing changes, IV administrations (usually not in ltc anyways), and doctor and med changes and calls to the MD and pharmacy every shift. The ECS charting system also leaves a lot to be desired, I am pretty computer savvy, but that system is so jumbled and time consuming with every little thing to chart.
    I know there are others in my situation, and yes, we arranged it so that I could say it was a mutual agreement that the job wasn't a good fit and that is pretty much what it comes down to. The paper that we wrote quotes that even with all of the learning and coaching that I tried, I still wasn't able to meet their expectations for the job. There's nothing more that can really be said. I don't know what else they can expect me to say.
    I have an interview on Thursday for an Orthopedic position that I am very excited about. I have 5 years experience on an orthopedic floor- as a CNA. But I gained so much knowledge working with those patients and observing all that I could with the nurses that this job would be an awesome fit and I would feel more comfortable with their computer system and what exactly is expected of me on the unit as a nurse. I really don't want to fudge this interview.
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    Good luck! Please keep us posted.
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    same situation, unfortunately! i said that my training was inconsistent and fractured (understatement!), that the company's training guidelines weren't followed, and a few specific things without bad-mouthing. you can say positive things about the company, your co-workers, and what you learned.

    you can also own up and say you were a new nurse without the foundation needed for such an assignment - you learned so much from it, and feel better prepared to go into a new job with your eyes open.

    patient load is a HUGE concern and a very concrete reason for leaving LTC (and part of why i couldnt do my last job). you can say just what you wrote - the patient load of 22 was too much for you delivery the kind of quality care you are known for. say you have the ortho experience, understand the patient/work flow, and after 22, can manage whatever an ortho floor throws your way.

    something WILL come up and you'll get your confidence back!!
  10. 0
    Quote from Heather77RN
    All three interviewers pushed for a reason that the job was not a good fit and when I just wanted to leave the explanation at that, the interviewers pushed harder for a reason. I didn't know how to answer without making the last job look bad.
    Your inability to communicate anything lost you the job(s). If I ask you a question, and you try to give me the run-around, I don't need any other information from you.

    People make mistakes. People need to constantly learn new skills. Some people can't do every job. There is nothing wrong with telling a potential employer of past failures. It shows you've recognized a weakness, and usually means you will try to correct and prevent similar situations in the future.

    A good response would be, "After a short time, I realized I was not ready for the busy rehab floor. Unfortunately, due to staff numbers, I could not receive the necessary on-the-job training required. Since then, I have taken online courses and attended seminars to help me prioritize and be more comfortable in different situations I may face. I believe this is no longer a weakness of mine, and I'm proud of the efforts I put in to continually improve my skills as a nurse."
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    Update: I was told that I did do a good job with the Ortho interview, but d/t other interviewers with more experience, I did not get the job. Thank you RNtobeinSoCal for that input, my answers to their question about this was similar to what you have written here. I have a job interview tomorrow for a med/surg position in a much smaller hospital (25 beds total) in a small town. I am really hoping this is my final interview and am preparing for any and all questions so I don't freeze up or have to think about any answers. I want to thank everyone here for their input, it helps a lot. Wish me luck!


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