Job Search & Interview

How To Get A Job After Being Fired For Attendance In 8 Easy Steps

“Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress.
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.”


Excessive absenteeism affects the workplace. From the employer’s perspective, absenteeism causes losses in profits and productivity, as well as lower morale from those who have to cover for their colleagues. When thinking about how to get a job after being fired for attendance, consider these 8 steps:

1. Check with Possible References

Determine how much information present or former employers plan to provide. Each supervisor or company’s human resources officer may offer a different amount of information. Some disclose just basic duties and dates of employment, while others (including public employees in states with open records laws) may have more detailed information available.

Free-form references and “off-the-record” remarks do not occur as frequently as they once did because of the legal consequences. However, if you learn that past absences, including their frequency and length, will be addressed in references and background checks, you should formulate a response. Determine if the company will consent to a mutually agreed-upon response, or if you will have to add context to respond to their statement.

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2. Know Policies of Former and Prospective Employers

As you prepare for how to explain bad attendance in a job interview, carefully review policies at your present or former employers where it may be an issue. Did the policy exist in a readily available employee handbook, or did the employer penalize tardiness and scheduled or unscheduled absences in an informal, arbitrary way? Were policies enforced consistently?

Learn about the standards at the place you want to work. Does the prospective employer offer more or less flexibility than the place where your absenteeism was an issue? When thinking of how to explain bad attendance in a job interview, assess ways to address any lack of empathy or inconsistent policies from the former employer without seeming argumentative or insubordinate.

3. Develop a Response

An essential step to how to get a job after being fired for attendance involves formulating a statement that addresses any adverse information. Knowing what may appear in a reference or background check allows you to develop a response that offers the details necessary to explain the situation. Create a response that offers sufficient detail to explain the circumstances, one that sounds truthful, sincere, and not contrived.

Assess the pattern and frequency of your time away from work. Did you take these absences due to illness, hospitalization, or care needs for you or a family member, or for more ambiguous purposes? Avoid lies or exaggerations during an interview that may harm you if discovered after receiving a job offer.

4. Offer Context at the Interview

Place the absences in the best context possible. If you experienced prolonged absences on only a couple of occasions, state clearly that the extended periods away from the office happened only twice. If you instead missed a lot of work, here and there, for a day or two, emphasize that none of these absences amounted to a prolonged period of time away from your assigned duties.

Explain that the underlying cause for these absences was due neither to apathy nor laziness. If some or all of these absences involved serious illness or healthcare needs, understand that a prospective employer will consider those situations differently than absenteeism due to poor work habits. If the health situation that required absences has improved, explain that you do not expect a future recurrence.

5. Assume Responsibility

Taking responsibility is essential when considering how to explain bad attendance in a job interview. If your poor attendance was avoidable, describe what you have learned from past mistakes, how you pledge to avoid making them again, and how you value the support of coworkers who are affected by the absenteeism of others. Focus on success or personal growth you have experienced since that unfortunate time.

Be honest with yourself. Do not minimalize or downplay your responsibility. Assume that the prospective employer may learn other details about the situation in the future, even if your absenteeism happened at a place far away in time or location.

Read More: Why Are Call Centers Always Hiring and Should You Work in One? 

6. Emphasize Reliability

Everyone makes mistakes. When developing your plan for how to get a job after being fired for attendance, reassure the interviewer that past problems are behind you and will not occur again. Give examples of life decisions you have made to get beyond those bad moments.

Offer evidence of dependability. Did you have reliable attendance in earlier periods, which gave the impression that the bad attendance was a temporary situation? Acknowledge the company’s concern about your poor past attendance and explain what steps you have taken in your work and personal life to improve upon past mistakes.

7. Focus on Positive Skills and Changes

When trying to find the best plan for how to get a job after being fired for attendance, focus on positive contributions you have made, regardless of attendance issues, as well as the changes you have made to address earlier problems. Remember that different career paths have different levels of flexibility, so your past attendance issues may not have the same impact if you bring other skills to the table. For example, a call center worker may face termination for being a few minutes late, whereas a job in a different field may offer greater latitude.

Aside from the attendance issues, what positive skills and contributions did you bring to your earlier jobs? Have you resolved the underlying medical or family problems that led to unreliable attendance in the past? Did you handle a previously bad situation with prolonged periods of avoiding work instead of focusing on your talents and abilities?

8. Thank Them for Letting You Explain the Situation

After offering context, assuming responsibility, and emphasizing reliability, thank the interviewer for letting you explain the underlying circumstances from a difficult time in the past. Also, clarify whether or not your former employer or the laws in the state where you previously worked made use of the Family Medical Leave Act difficult or impossible to apply to your circumstances.

Always leave the interview on a positive note. Doing your best to give them a positive impression is an important part of increasing your chances for how to get a job after being fired for attendance.

Closing Thoughts to Attend to . . .

When contemplating how to get a job after being fired for attendance, remember that you are not the only person who has ever made mistakes in the past, or missed work for extended periods of time. The company you apply to seeks a qualified, reliable employee with skills that match the position description. Despite past absenteeism or questions about your reliability, find the best way to disclose past issues with honesty while also focusing on skills you have today.

Give a strong impression that you will be a valuable addition to the staff. If you receive a negative reference from a former employer, refrain from speaking negatively about your previous supervisor or workplace. Take responsibility, focus on your ability to contribute positively to the company’s success, and move forward.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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