/ Asked by Matthew
I am applying for new employment. I was dismissed from a previous job. On a job application I am filling out there is a question: 'May we contact your previous supervisor for a reference? If no, please explain.' How do I go about answering this question?
Answered by Marisella, Hiring Expert at American Express, on Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Hello,

I think answering this question is always tough! However, it really depends on the situation you're currently in with job searching. Are you job searching confidentially or does your current employer know you're searching? If you're searching confidentially, I would advise you to maybe keep that question blank or answer no if you have to answer. If you're current employer knows you're job searching, then it would make sense to answer yes to that question. It would probably be best to give past supervisor references if you're job searching confidentially rather than your current one. Good luck! 
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, November 6, 2015
What is important to understand is that being up front and honest when applying for a position is always the best approach.  If you were dismissed from a position, in most cases the hiring company will discover this eventually through a background check.  That being said, you are under no obligation to answer yes to this question.  If you do not want a potential employer contacting this company, check no, and state something to the effect of 'company was not a fit for me'.  If questioned later about the circumstances, be honest and explain, but emphasize that it was a learning experience and you have grown from it.  Showing a potential employer your ability to turn a negative situation into a positive experience could be an advantage for you.
Answered by Charlene, Hiring Expert at Gap Inc., on Tuesday, November 10, 2015
This is a good question, and there are several options to consider.  First, you may want to call and see from your previous employer what the policy is and what information they would be giving any potential employer that calls.Next is to explain very briefly the circumstances that surrounded your termination and follow up with, "what I learned from this was...".  This will tell the employer you are forthcoming, and took the situation and made it a valuable lesson.  Another option is to state that you would like to explain in person due to the nature of the situation. This is best used if the situation is long and detailed and you are not able to capture it on the application.  Be prepared to explain it in person during the interview.  Best of luck to you.
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