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Submitted by Eden on


I have been turned down for a lot of jobs after what I thought were interviews that went very well. I am confused and suspect fowl play. After you have received your letter stating that you wouldn’t get the job, can you ask for specific reasons why?

Long story (below) short, I have been unable to get even entry level jobs. I have been turned down for at least 30 jobs over the past 6 months. They haven’t all been good interviews but at least 10 have. I think that my former employer could be saying bad things about me. If it is not too unprofessional I would like to ask if they are.

Long story:
My last job of four years was working at a company 2 of which I was an assistant manager. I frequently had assignments performing the job of manager out of town when the company needed it. One of those lasted 6 months and I was offered promotions frequently. I turned them all down feeling that my skills needed to improve before I should have that role. Finally I was confident of my skills and accepted a promotion.

Before I was officially promoted, my manager embezzled $100,000. The company was nice enough to let me run his old store with the title of an assistant without compensation for 6 months while they hired and trained a new manager from outside of the company. When the manager’s training was over, he lasted 4 hours before walking off of the job. He also told me that it was said that I was involved in the embezzlement during a presentation by asset protections at the corporate office. I didn’t want to manage the store for another six months for free. I gave an ultimatum, not a bluff, and ended up giving them a 3 weeks notice and quit. I am not re-hirable with no reason stated.

wendii's picture
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Hi Eden,

it's absolutely ok to ask for feedback after an interview. However, I doubt that the company will tell you that it's down to your references or that your company is badmouthing you.

Some of your frustration and distress may be coming through at interview. What's past is past, and you will probably never get good references from that company. You need to work on a positive description of your time there, the things you learnt and the way you left. If you wow the potential employer, a bad reference won't stand in your way.

Also, I know that when you are unemployed and need money for rent and food, any job looks good. But it tells a better story to a potential employer when you apply for jobs that fit your skills and experience. It might be better to temp than to apply for entry level jobs when you have moved past that part of your life.

I hope that's useful.


juliahhavener's picture
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Just my personal experience after a layoff that really hurt: Until I was over it, and able to talk about my time there purely in the positive, it hurt me in interviews. To go back to Horstman's Laws: They aren't that stupid. A potential employer will weigh your interview and information given from a previous employer.

I had a recent discussion with my HR manager about what information is/isn't given when someone calls to reference. According to her, what can legally be given is the dates of your employment and your rehire status.

What you can speak about is your desire for growth and challenge, your successes in your previous positions, and your enthusiasm for their opportunity. If you don't have it and you can get it, I would absolutely encourage you to get the MT Interview Series. The information there is priceless, truly.

And from the Dark Mark side of the table...interviewers are doing their jobs well if you believe the interview has gone well. Absolutely ask for feedback, how much information you get will depend upon the hiring manager, the HR rules, etc. of the company you have applied to. [b]Just because you didn't get the job doesn't mean the interview didn't go well or than your previous employer is badmouthing is much more likely that someone else simply interviewed better, followed up better, or better meets their employment needs. It probably isn't personal.[/b]

Keep your chin up. The perfect job will come, and if you are ready for it, the perfect job offer will, too. I know it's hard. I spent a year and a half searching before a friend turned up at my doorstep at midnight and said, "No, really, this job is're applying NOW." I've been with that company over two years, taken two promotions, and moved three states away from where I started.

tomas's picture

You can ask for feedback, but most of the time you will only get broad generalisations about fit or better candidates coming along. I very much doubt that you would be told if the problem was due to a bad reference.

The other problem I have found in getting feedback is that before too long you will have conflicting feedback and you end up chasing your tail.

Mark's picture
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Ask every time.

Unlike Julia, I think the previous situation might very well be hurting you. That said, it's dicey addressing it. One thing that is POSSIBLE is going back to your previous employer and finding a sympathetic manager to write a letter specifically denying the allegations. (If you worked for me, under the circumstances stated, I'd do it.)

Please send me your resume ( with a note referencing this thread. If we need to do a practice interview for me to hear your handling, I will.

Illegitimi non carborundum.

It's good to be back.