Okay so you made a mistake at your last job.
A really, really big one.
You lost your temper when you were frustrated and you cursed loudly and publicly. Suffice to say that your team considered your actions unacceptable. Some called it workplace bullying. Of course you have remorse. You felt bad the minute these things passed your lips and when you saw the expression on the recipient of your anger, you knew you’d done the wrong thing.
Anyway, it’s done and dusted and you lost your job. Lesson learned.
Copping it on the chin though, doesn’t mean it will be easy to slide into your next job. Nobody wants to take on a problem employee that’s for sure.
If anger issues were raised at your last job, then they’ll be made at the next and they will follow you wherever you go if you don’t modify your behaviour. Before you inflict your personal issues on one more subordinate or colleague, please seek assistance. Whether this help is in the form of an anger-management program, counselling or coaching to help you recognise the signs that precipitate bad habits, work on yourself first. You don’t have to stop job searching while you’re doing it, but you need to come to terms with this before it impacts your life negatively once more. If you think that this situation was a storm-in-a-teacup, or an over-reaction, remember you lost your livelihood over it. Do you really think that people take this drastic step without full knowledge of its implications?
Don’t assume that the interviewer isn’t going to ask you why you left your last job; equally, don’t assume he hasn’t done some checking before your interview and may already know the answer, but is waiting to hear the right response.
Apportioning blame to other parties, lashing out and angry denial won’t work. You’ll come across defensive and scary and you’ll lose the interview right then and there.
You could attempt the “I was looking for new challenges” line, but it’s a risky move if the firm has done their homework on you.
The best bet is to come clean, but frame your statement in a cocoon of positivity.
“My last engagement ended in personal disappointment. I allowed myself to become too enthusiastic about meeting targets and I became frustrated when my team didn’t seem to share my same drive. I know now that my management style was too direct and my focus on getting things done was too uncompromising. This was certainly a wake-up call for me to change my leadership style and as a result of that, I’m doing some work with a coach to identify stress triggers, adapt the way I communicate and approach my team. Already I see how I could have approached problems better and I feel much stronger and capable as a result. This next engagement will be one of consultation, transparency, respect and calm so I believe this has been a really valuable experience”.
When you’ve done something wrong, it doesn’t have to stop your career momentum in its tracks.
But it is a matter of convincing first yourself, and then others, that this is an unfortunate and isolated incident in what had been up to then, an accomplishment-filled career. You just need to accept your part it in, take steps to prevent its recurrence, and admit to it, while showing the focus and enthusiasm you have for moving forward.