Author Topic: Did I say too much?  (Read 4854 times)

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*inviteseller

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Did I say too much?
« on: May 02, 2013, 10:48:34 PM »
I had a job interview today (yeah, finally!).  It was going lovely..the interviewer knew some people I knew from a job years ago, he was impressed with my background and experience, and even a few of the questions were from left field, I handled them well, until..  I left my last job in August under extremely acrimonious terms.  Long story short, I walked out after 13 years of jumping through every flaming hoop my incompetent boss had for me, and she finally pushed me too far.  I tried to handle it professionally previously but the situation became unbearable (and many wondered what took me so long to walk out.)  I have, when questioned by people who know me well from this place, never ever said a word against the place, just bean dipped with the excuse I was burned out, but a lot of people sort of put some things together (not the final straw but what may have led up to it.)  I do know for a fact she has bad mouthed me, lied about me to the point of slander that I could legally sue her on.  I still talk to someone who works there, and while I have refused to talk about it, she has told me a few things and has said that she has refuted some of the lies.  So, the interviewer asked me what would my boss say about me and my abilities if they were to call for a reference.  I was brief but honest as to why I had left (I have proof of shenanigans that cannot be refuted by her if necessary to save my character) and I told him honestly she probably would have nothing nice to say, and would go as far as to disparage my character (I gave him the truth as to what she is telling people.)  I also told him in my professional references were people I worked with through my job, but did not work there, but are willing to vouch for my character and ethics.  He seemed to shut down a little after that exchange. 

Should I have told him the truth, or should I have said I didn't know what she would say and let the chips fall where they may?  I don't want it to seem like I was making a preemptive strike to try and whitewash anything that, in his mind could be true, but I am angry that after being disgustingly loyal for 13 years, this woman wants to smear me all over the place.  And darn it, we had a great interview going until then (his questions were absolutely awesome !) :(

SoCalVal

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2013, 01:09:51 AM »
One constant I've always heard is never say anything negative about your former employers so, yes, I think you should've worded it differently.  You could've said something like, "I would hope my boss would detail my stellar 13-year experience spent not only jumping through flaming hoops on one leg but also while balancing teacups on my nose."

Don't beat yourself up about it as the interview is done and over.  It's hard to respond positively or neutrally when caught off-guard about something that's negative.  I, in an interview, was once (not ethically, I think) asked about a former coworker from my (at the time) current company who interviewing company was looking to hire.  FC had last left me with a very bad taste in my mouth by flying off the handle at me about something that was none of my doing and, even though I calmly fixed the situation, never apologized to me or thanked me for fixing it.  I really refused to ever speak to her again (for non-professional reasons) for the rest of the time she was at my current company so when the question came up about her, I was a little thrown by being questioned about her and, while I answered as diplomatically as I could, I still said more than I should have (she had been notorious at current company for getting nothing done as no one was paying attention to her so I'd said, "She requires micromanagement" and left it at that).  I shouldn't have said it, but, frankly, I always knew I said it as revenge for the way she had treated me (which I always knew was wrong to say -- true, but wrong -- but said it anyway).  And, no, I never did go work for that other company (they couldn't offer me enough money to cover the huge additional commuting I'd have to do).



Skibunny

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2013, 04:45:45 AM »
Sorry, but I think yes.  In my experience (as a HR professional in my previous life), this isn't a question asking you about your specific boss - it's asking you how you are perceived by your superiors - so things like 'I think they would say I work hard but maybe sometimes go into too much detail on a project' etc - it's another way of asking you about your strengths and weaknesses.

My DH is going through a similar thing with his work, having been bullied consistently for the past few years and the company still trying to make out it's his problem and not a problem with his work and I know he finds it really hard to separate the people from the work if that makes sense - so I think he would answer the same way if asked that question.

Hopefully the interviewer will see that your qualities make you an excellent employee and your honesty should be valued.

Skibunny
xx

*inviteseller

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2013, 09:50:21 AM »
ty guys.  I didn't go off and rip her (and we had already covered why I had left a few questions earlier and my job duties) but it threw me when he asked "What would your boss say about you and you abilities  if we were to call?" I was just honest and said unfortunately I did not leave on amicable terms and she would probably only say what dates I worked and if she would hire me back (no) but that she was also telling people I was a thief and a horrible employee.  It just slipped out in the moment because too many people are telling me, even 8 months later, that she still is saying how horrible of a person I am.  BTW, I will know if they call because I do still talk to a woman who is still there, and she will tell me what is said. 

RebeccainGA

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2013, 10:11:18 AM »
I had a hard time with that, too - I got laid off from a job (they reduced the department by three, and the three that got the axe were all high performers, in business school, and the manager was insecure about having no degree and being mostly incompetent). They asked if I'd get a good review from my previous supervisor, and what I said (after the first time, which I pretty much said what you said) was "My previous supervisor and I had a difference of opinion about work styles. However, every manager I've worked for before her would tell you that I'm hardworking, a self starter, frequently mentor others without losing focus on my own priorities, and never say no to learning a new skill." Seemed to work.

Lynn2000

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2013, 11:36:49 AM »
What's done is done. But, in the future, now that you know this kind of question might come up, you can work on a more positive answer. I tend to take things literally and might not have realized it was just a rephrasing of the "strengths and weaknesses" question as Skibunny suggests; but now, I know better.

I like SoCalVal's wording, "I would hope my boss would detail my stellar 13-year experience spent not only jumping through flaming hoops on one leg but also while balancing teacups on my nose."

My mom's company had a policy that they were not allowed to tell people anything other than that So-and-so did indeed work for them for X dates, and then refer them to HR. I have no idea what HR was allowed to tell them, but they would only be looking at a cold, hard service record, whereas my mom was the ex-employee's supervisor. (I think they had a few too many lawsuits over claims that supervisors were bad-mouthing ex-employees to potential employers.) One more reason to not take the question literally, I guess.
~Lynn2000

siamesecat2965

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2013, 03:09:30 PM »
Being that many companies will only verify dates, salary etc. I wonder if the interviewier, knowing this, asked you that question to see how you'd respond or to ferret any info out of you they wouldn't gert during a reference check.  Kind of sneaky, but still a legitimate question.

GSNW

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2013, 04:08:42 PM »
You can also come at it from... "Well, if she were truthful, she would say that I am willing to deal with a lot coming at me from all sides and maintain my  job performance."

She might not be truthful, but you can't control that.

TootsNYC

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2013, 06:59:05 PM »
Every question is one that you should use as an opportunity to highlight great things about you.

So it really doesn't matter so much what your boss would *really* say. You don't want to be wildly inaccurate.

But this is a chance for the applicant to indicate that they know what *A* boss would value, and to say whether they did things that *A* boss would value.

So, I like the phrase, "I hope that she would highlight..."

And things like,
"my reliability,"
"my willingness to stick with a project even when things get difficult,"
"my evenness of temperament,"
"my ability to keep the company's well-being uppermost in my mind,"
"my ability to work with all the different coworkers,"
and other sorts of stuff like that.

gramma dishes

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2013, 08:31:58 PM »
...    "My previous supervisor and I had a difference of opinion about work styles. However, every manager I've worked for before her would tell you that I'm hardworking, a self starter, frequently mentor others without losing focus on my own priorities, and never say no to learning a new skill." Seemed to work.
Every question is one that you should use as an opportunity to highlight great things about you.

So it really doesn't matter so much what your boss would *really* say. You don't want to be wildly inaccurate.

But this is a chance for the applicant to indicate that they know what *A* boss would value, and to say whether they did things that *A* boss would value.

So, I like the phrase, "I hope that she would highlight..."

And things like,
"my reliability,"
"my willingness to stick with a project even when things get difficult,"
"my evenness of temperament,"
"my ability to keep the company's well-being uppermost in my mind,"
"my ability to work with all the different coworkers,"
and other sorts of stuff like that.

I like both these approaches.  You could use whichever one seemed to fit your particular interviewing situation best, or use both!

*inviteseller

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2013, 11:33:47 PM »
When I was there she always told me dates and position only and yes or no if you would hire the person back, but I cannot trust she would do that for me.  She took my leaving bad (my acrimonious divorce was nicer than this split!) Next interview, if asked I will use all of the great suggestions.  I will say he lobbed a couple of fast balls at me that I handled well (I aced the why do you want to work for our company and what skills are your weak points), but I just let my emotion over the lies take over my brain to mouth filter.
 
...    "My previous supervisor and I had a difference of opinion about work styles. However, every manager I've worked for before her would tell you that I'm hardworking, a self starter, frequently mentor others without losing focus on my own priorities, and never say no to learning a new skill." Seemed to work.
Every question is one that you should use as an opportunity to highlight great things about you.

So it really doesn't matter so much what your boss would *really* say. You don't want to be wildly inaccurate.

But this is a chance for the applicant to indicate that they know what *A* boss would value, and to say whether they did things that *A* boss would value.

So, I like the phrase, "I hope that she would highlight..."

And things like,
"my reliability,"
"my willingness to stick with a project even when things get difficult,"
"my evenness of temperament,"
"my ability to keep the company's well-being uppermost in my mind,"
"my ability to work with all the different coworkers,"
and other sorts of stuff like that.

I like both these approaches.  You could use whichever one seemed to fit your particular interviewing situation best, or use both!

These are great.    In my defense, I also haven't had to do a job interview since 1999  :P

MyFamily

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2013, 02:00:56 PM »
I just saw this thread, so I know it is a few days old, but if you haven't done so yet, have a friend of yours call and do a reference check on you with your former employer.  That way you'll know if she is telling lies about you or if she is holding to company policy.  If she isn't, then you can take steps now with your former employer about this.


"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones" - Solomon ibn Gabirol

heyyoume

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2013, 04:16:44 PM »
While you probably could have worded things a little differently I just wanted to give you some words of hope.  I recently interviewed for a new role (which I got  :)) and I had the same hurdle to overcome.  When they asked me for references I had to say that I couldn't provide my last boss for reasons very similar to yours.  They worked with me to find references who could work - and hired me anyway.  Even if this employer views it in a bad light you do have hope.   Ask a manager also has some great advice on what to do in this type of situation.

*inviteseller

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2013, 06:39:18 PM »
I know what she is saying to other business people who I dealt with on a daily business (some very influential people too!) and what she has even told 2 former co workers she knows I am friendly with, and it is down right slander.  One comment she made to one person was "Let's see if she'll ever get another job."  Also, she is the owner, so she makes company policy, but it changes minute to minute!  She is really is unpredictable (she blatantly lied under oath at the unemployment hearing and on the answer for the unemployment application).  She also told the one person I still speak with that works there (altho I absolutely refuse to discuss anything about the job or the people there and I will not tell her how my job search is going) that she is not allowed to talk to me and if she finds out, she will make her life miserable.  She made this poor woman come to the unemployment hearing to try to dispute hard facts (I had too much proof) and she just kept saying she never heard the conversations.  I felt so bad that she was trying to be loyal to me, a friend and not lose her job because boss lady will make your life hell if you cross her (in her mind).  The good news is I got a great lead on a really good position and after talking with them, I sent my resume to them..fingers crossed.

Gyburc

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Re: Did I say too much?
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2013, 07:04:39 AM »
What an awkward situation to be in! I think the PPs gave some good advice about tactics in general, but I'm not so sure that *inviteseller could have used the usual responses in this situation. It would look very bad if *inviteseller implied that her former boss could list a whole range of positives, only to find that Boss was bad-mouthing her to the prospective employer.

In these cases, I suspect honesty is the best policy - but you don't have to say absolutely everything. I like RebeccainGA's suggestion.

*inviteseller, all the very best with your job hunt, and I'm really sorry you had to deal with such an awful person.


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