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What to say in an interview after being fired.

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

This may get long so if you want, just skip down to the last two lines.......

 

Last June I was let go. 2 1/2 years prior to being let go, I was the exec for a small restaurant company(8 units in the country). I was hired to head up their new "flagship" store, this was to be the best and the busiest to date, and it was literally 3 times the amount of sales they had predicted. I was in awww, it was great, people loved the food and kept coming back. My costs were in line and my health score was impeccable. My kitchen was "top dog" in the company, we were the model so to speak. Well, at the time, there was no corporate chef, just the first chef they hired in the beginning who was overseeing all of the units and recipe work. Well, he and I worked up a bit of a relationship to where I was helping with standardizing recipes and helping to come up with new ones for menu changes, etc...We would basically feed off of each other until I started questioning some things. We are both computer savvy when it comes to food and labor costing programs, since nothing was "standard" I started using my programs I had come up with and then shooting them off to him and other chefs in the company to help us all move forward. But it seems everytime I did that, he would come up with a program of the similar and make it standard for everyone to use. No big deal, but I never got any recognition or even a "hey, I like that, let's use it, but how about adding this or taking this out". I know, when he would come up with something, I generally found some tweeking that could be done and when I pointed it out, it was as if he disregarded it.

 

Moving forward, the company hired a corporate chef from a reputable fine dining steakhouse company. He worked in my kitchen for 2 weeks to become acclaimated with the food and what not. He used myself and my sous to help come up with new, seasonal, special occassion and holiday menus, along with using my kitchen as a test kitchen. I was excited about all of this, this was my chance to move even more forward with my career.Until my biggest enemy started getting the better of me and I was caught in a crossfire. Looking back now, I can see almost every step that lead to my dimise there.

 

My temper has long since haunted me, and what changed the opinion of me with new corp chef is something I will never forget. Even though, to this day, I know it was not me, I do know and understand that history can be both good and evil. I would type out the story but this is getting long enough for such a simple question...I will say, however, the new restaurant I work for, as a sous, I have learned from watching my current exec doing some of the same things I did before, it really has been an eye opener. I will also say that my staff loved me, I had two people cry when I told them and one offered to quit because but I told not to because my sous would really need his help with me gone.

 

Bottom line, how do I answer the question that is asked at every interview, "so why did you leave _______?",        

 How do you answer this question after being fired?

post #2 of 15

I guess the honest answer is that your services with that company was no longer needed. But to be honest, I have never been fired. I would imagine you, an exec-chef, have conducted a few interviews.  Haven't you made someone else answer this question before? 

post #3 of 15

I think the safe answer is that you felt that the company was going in a different direction then you were comfortable with. You can also state that its because of a shift in upper management... Or hell, even say it was for 'personal' reasons. Your goals didn't match up with the goals of the company.... Or you could be honest and say you were let go. 

 

Without knowing all the details of your story, its a bit tough. But I'd go from there. Anyone with half a brain knows that sometimes, jobs just DON'T work out. Its not anyone's fault, they just don't. 

post #4 of 15

To be safe I'd tell them that there was a change in management and that I was not comfortable with the new direction.  I used that as for why I left the cafe and it was the truth... there was a new owner and I could not put my name to what she wanted me to sell. 

 

Sometimes jobs just don't work out... not everyone can work everywhere and we all know that.

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #5 of 15

Tell the truth, and why you were let go. Most employees value honesty above everything, I know I do.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcieluck View Post

I guess the honest answer is that your services with that company was no longer needed. But to be honest, I have never been fired. I would imagine you, an exec-chef, have conducted a few interviews.  Haven't you made someone else answer this question before? 


I have asked that question and the general response, if they were terminated, is placing the blame on the former employer. I usually finish the interview when they put the blame off but the 2 or 3 that supplied and honest answer and then turned it into a learning experience, I have hired. I do take full responsibility for my termination, I may not agree with it or like it but it is what it is. .

 

post #7 of 15

As an editor I was prepared to be fired every day as I left for work. And it happened---more than once.

 

One lesson I learned was that if you get as far as the interview point, honesty is the only policy. At that point, they have been impressed by your resume etc. Now they're looking for a reason to hire you. Given the circumstances you provided you were caught in a political battle not of your making. Explain it just that way, and provide details if asked.

 

Keep in mind that, nowadays, most employers do, indeed, follow up. If nothing else they use the services of a company that does background checks. If you claim that you left your last position voluntarily, and the background check reveals otherwise, you will have lost all credibility with the new company, and risk immediate dismissal as well, for having lied.

 

So play it straight. That will work out best in the long run.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

As an editor I was prepared to be fired every day as I left for work. And it happened---more than once.

 

One lesson I learned was that if you get as far as the interview point, honesty is the only policy. At that point, they have been impressed by your resume etc. Now they're looking for a reason to hire you. Given the circumstances you provided you were caught in a political battle not of your making. Explain it just that way, and provide details if asked.

 

Keep in mind that, nowadays, most employers do, indeed, follow up. If nothing else they use the services of a company that does background checks. If you claim that you left your last position voluntarily, and the background check reveals otherwise, you will have lost all credibility with the new company, and risk immediate dismissal as well, for having lied.

 

So play it straight. That will work out best in the long run.


Thanks for the advice, what youe said about getting an interview makes sense. I did talk to my old GM that was there during my termination. He is also the GM that was there with me since the beginning when we opened the store. I asked him if I could still use him as a good reference and he replied, "of course". So I know I have at least that going for me. After him saying that, I feel better about walking into my interview with confidence and a nice portfolio to back it up. 

Thank you everyone for your responses, I really appreciate them.

 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

So I had my interview today and it went great! Talked for just about an hour about my experience, my philosophy, cost control, menu development, people development, the direction the 3 unit company wants to move in. He gave me a menu and asked me what I thought of it and if I would change anything, I immediately pointed out that there were a couple of apps and entrees I would cut out and why I would cut them out and gave him a few ideas I would consider. He also told me that when they first opened the location that I am applying for, started off very good but has since tapered down and that, although the current chef and GM are good people, they are, however not the right people in place for what they need to acheive for higher sales and productivity. So he told me they will be making a decision very soon and that he would appreciate my confidentiality. When asked about why I left _____(the place I was fired from), I answered truthfully and pointed out that my GM there would vouch for my ability to run a successful kitchen and he would supply a good reference. So I am hoping this means a second interview, hopefully with cooking involved. But there is one thing I think I may have slipped up on...the thank you letter. I BCC'd it to myself and when I read over it again, even after checking and re re re checking before hitting 'send', I noticed there were 2 slip ups. The first not having a space after Mr. and the second, I spelled appreciate wrong, I spelled it apprciate. I about slapped myself for this because I am not one to mis spell....

post #10 of 15

Although we try, no one is perfect. I am sure he will rrealize this ., and you did send a follow up thank you. Most people do not.Good Luck

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #11 of 15

I don't have a whole lot to add here but... anybody that's been around the business knows how complicated these things can get. We've all seen hard-workers fired for no reason and useless buffoons that have held their positions for years. Your interviewer doesn't know the circumstances of which you were fired, even based on the fraction of which you could have told him(which is still only your perspective) and he'll never find out. What should matter to him is if you still have a good reference from that company(ie. great guy/great chef, didn't fit our vision, etc) and you were as honest as possible throughout the interviewing process. Sounds like you're on top of things. Good luck!

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Although we try, no one is perfect. I am sure he will rrealize this ., and you did send a follow up thank you. Most people do not.Good Luck



As in a follow up to the tahnk you letter I sent after the interview? 

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

Although we try, no one is perfect. I am sure he will rrealize this ., and you did send a follow up thank you. Most people do not.Good Luck



I did not send a "follow up thank you". During the interview, he suggested I go by the restaurant to see what I think they could do differently to help out and then call him if I had any ideas. I did just that. I drove by, looked around the sight and immediate neighborhood. I saw a few things and came up with some ideas, after I did this, I called him and first of all, thanked him for his time and let him know I went by the restaurant and then let him know I have some questions and ideas about the place and he can call me back at his earliest convenience. 

post #14 of 15

As a restaurant owner, I interview a LOT of potential candidates. One of the most powerful things I heard came from a guy who had been fired after he screwed up. I asked him why he was fired (as it said on his resume) and he told me exactly why and how he had acted immaturely and how he learned from the experience and grew from it to become a different person. He wasn't making this up. He actually meant it and he did actually change. I hired him.

 

Another guy in the same series of applicants had a very similar situation and was fired (as stated on his application). When I asked him about it, he told me everything about the situation, in more detail than I cared to hear, and began trying to convince me that it wasn't his "fault", it was the fault of this other person that did something to him or said something to him that made him mad. I did NOT hire him and would not. Why? Because he has no idea how to get along with someone that doesn't like him. He is too immature for me to risk MY business on. There will always be someone that doesn't like you, or doesn't like something you do, or the way you look, or the success you obtain. You gotta learn to get along and work well with them anyway.

 

Candidate one turned a serious mistake into a learning experience. Candidate two didn't learn anything form his mistake, but he had the same opportunity to grow that candidate one had. One was maturing, one was still immature. One would LEARN from making a mistake on a dish or screwing up a ticket. One would blame the server, manager, guest, the oven, the spoon, or anyone/anything else but him.

 

So, the BEST thing to do is learn from that experience and be completely honest about it with your new boss. The "details" aren't as important as the overall experience. If he is a good boss, he will understand that people make "mistakes" and will be impressed that you actually grew and developed as a person and professional. 

 

Good luck!

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Great point Ray, regardless off the fact I still feel the cards were stacked against me in my situation. I know that there is something I have done or acted that ultimatily led to the decision. And I know exactly what happenned to lead up to my termination. I've never been one to point fingers when something falls on me because I am the one one that needs to be the bigger, more professional and turn any situation into a none issue type of person. 

At my interview, I was asked why I left _____, I was not untruthful but I didn't go into detail, instead that I was the one that the responsibility fell on and I didn't fix it in the proper way. And the decision to terminate me was made six months later.

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