Sunday, July 21, 2013

Explaining why I was fired – and when to tell a potential employer I’m pregnant?

Dear Savvy,
I recently was let go from my job as a financial representative’s assistant. This was my first job out of college and not related to my major. I wasn’t told until after I was hired I needed to obtain both an insurance and series 6 license as a requirement of continued employment. I took the insurance classes, but was having difficulty passing the life exam. I then took several days off due to a family event and a vacation. When I returned my manager called me into his office to inform me I wasn’t working out. He needed an assistant who was certified. Since losing this job, I’ve had one phone interview for a position in my field of study. When asked why I was no longer working, I told the interviewer I had difficulty passing the insurance exam. I was nervous and rambled a bit giving the dates of my exams and the scores I received. I was not called back for a second interview. My parents think I shouldn’t have given so much detail about the exams and instead say I was not told during the interview process I needed to become a certified insurance agent nor given a drop dead date for accomplishing this. How do you think I should respond to the question, “Why did you leave your last job?”  

Also, I am pregnant. I am not showing yet do I need to tell potential employers I am pregnant? If so when?

Dear Lindsay,
I disagree with your parent’s advice. Do not tell interviewers you weren’t informed of the insurance license requirement during the interview process. Interviewers may think you are naïve, didn’t do your homework, weren’t listening or are lying. I did a quick search on a local company’s website and found the following listed as a requirement for a similar job:

- Series 6 or 7, 66 or 65 & 63, and Life Insurance license required

Also, do not go into detail about taking the exam. Instead say, “I was required to become licensed by such and such date and when I failed to do so I was let go. I now realize this job wasn’t for me. I went to school for X and this position did not utilize my talents which are ….” The closer your talents match the job you are applying for the better.

As to alerting potential employers you are pregnant, do not do so until you have a firm job offer.  I am reminded of the seminar I attended on hiring discrimination. The speaker, an HR hiring manager at a large company, told us hiring discrimination absolutely exists for women in their child-bearing years. When a manager at her company knows an interviewee is pregnant she is rarely (as in never) considered for hiring or promotion. Why - because someone, either the manager or other employees, have been covering this position since it became open. If they hire a pregnant person they know in a few months someone will once again need to cover this position while the employee is out on maternity leave. There is also the fear the employee will forget everything she learned and need to be retrained once she returns or at the very least will need to be brought up to speed on what occurred while she was out. Then there is the fear she may decide to stay home with her new baby and they will need to start the hiring process all over again.

Once hired you do need to inform your new employer you are pregnant as soon as possible, they will need to plan for it. After you receive a firm job offer in writing let them know you will be accepting the offer, but do need to inform them you are pregnant and the baby is due on…They will not be happy, but most likely will not rescind your job offer in fear of a discrimination law suit.
Have you ever been fired? How did you explain your firing in an interview?

Were you ever pregnant while searching for a job? At what point did you alert the interviewer you were pregnant? Were you still hired?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
I've lost my job. Now what?
50 Best Books for the Unemployed
Worker Embarrassed to Attend Retirement Party After Being Fired


  1. I was fired once, a super long time ago, and for the life of me I have no idea how I explained it.

    This is great advice. One thing I do know is to only give them as much information as they need and I like your suggestion on how to turn the conversation back around to discussing your qualities and skills.

  2. Was fired years ago by a law firm. We agreed that both they and i would explain it as a bad fit - gawd was it ever!! -and when pushed i would say that they really didn't want someone with my skills of ...

    I did not find it limiting. Got offers from the first two places i interviewed.

    Totally agree on your pregnancy advice.

  3. This is fantastic advice. I would just add that if anyone feels for any reason that their job is unsecure or that they are potentially on the chopping block, that that is the best time to tell your employers you are preggo (must be true, obviously)!

  4. Great advice. I was not hired I think because I was pregnant and I told the employer that I was so I stopped putting into jobs while pregnant for some reason I was looked over when applying because of that.

  5. My son was fired recently due to a conflict with a supervisor. I advised him to say he was laid off due to a department reorganization rather than fired. Apparently, they cannot be specific about the reason for termination when people call for verification. We tested it by making a fake call to the HR Department and sure enough, they confirmed he'd been fired, so he called them and complained. When we made a second call, they just confirmed it was an involuntary term, which could be interpreted as a layoff. It was sad though because he had to take a job that paid $3 an hour less just because his supervisor was a jerk.

  6. Great advice! Thanks for sharing...

  7. Kimberly,
    Agree with giving them only what they need. I know this from interviewing candidates. I interviewed a woman once who had been let go from every job she had. Which I believe was 6. It was never her fault and she went into great detail. All I kept thinking was how can I end this gracefully, so I can get back to work. Now when ever I hear what someone plans to say or has said in an interview I think of this woman and I always tell them less is better. Otherwise you are talking yourself out of the job.

  8. Webb,
    Good for you. And isn't it freeing to get out of a job that is a bad fit. I've been there a time or two, but always managed to get out before I was fired.

  9. Catherine,
    Good advice. No employer wants a discrimination suit.

  10. Kita,
    Good example. I'm sure you weren't hired because you were pregnant.

  11. I've never had either of these happen to me well, not yet, anyway. But from my experience, I would say that your advice is sound. I hope she takes heed and follows it.

  12. This is a really great post. I was recently fired because I called in sick with flu and the manager considered it my responsibility to find cover! xo

  13. Adrian,
    I’m sorry to hear about your son. It’s always a good idea to test what former employers are going to say in situations like this. A word of caution though, I have seen new employees let go in the probationary period or not hired when a lie was discovered during a background search. Fortunately your son found a new job too bad it is for $3 an hour less. That is a lot of money.

  14. The SITS GIRLS,
    You are welcome.

  15. Monica,
    Thanks for your comment. I've never been fired - usually I can see the writing on the wall and know when to get out before it is too late. Unless I can't the temp job - my first job out of school - where I was asked not to come back. I never had to explain though - the temp company just found me another assignment.

  16. I could not agree more with the advice you gave! I was already thinking everything you typed. Thanks for stopping by the blog on Saturday! It's nice "meeting" you. ;)

  17. Rachel,
    How awful. When I have the flu it is all I can do to just to call in to let my manager know I'm sick. I can't imagine trying to find a sub. Hopefully explaining this in an interview won't be too difficult. You may want to have a friend do a test reference to see how your former manager answers questions about your employment.

    Good luck to you.

  18. Hey Savvy, cute buttons. I just added one to my blog.

    I was fired at my first job. It was at a gas station. I was about twenty. I was let go three days after starting the job because I wasn't catching on to the procedures. I felt stupid at the time but now I know it wasn't my failure - it was the failure of the lady training me.

    I found out I was pregnant two months after starting a new job. I was scared to tell my supervisor. I actually waited util my coworkers started to notice. I was about four months pregnant at the time.

    Have a great week Savvy

  19. Thanks Darlene. I won a blog design from Iris at She also created the buttons. I will add yours too.

    Fired after three days of training. That is ridiculous. I don't think you would have liked working there anyway.

    I would have waited awhile to tell my supervisor I was pregnant too.