How to Explain Termination at a Job Interview without Missing Your Chance

– How to Explain Termination –

How to Explain Termination? This is one question that most job applicants fear when they are filling out a job application or going in for a job interview. 

How to Explain Termination at a Job Interview

Explaining a prior job termination, to a potential employer can be straightforward. This is so especially, when you know how to discuss it positively.

This article will cover exactly what you should do. That is, on your resume, application, and interview. There are different things to do at different steps. As such, it’s best to be prepared for all circumstances.

When Should You Discuss Termination on an Application?

The only reason you should discuss termination or sack on a job application is if they specifically ask you for an explanation. Here are three scenarios to be prepared for:

1. The application fails to mention termination questions: If the application process fails to mention any questions about being terminated from a previous job, note. You can save your explanation for the interview if it comes up.

2. A yes or no question about termination is provided: If you must supply a binary answer, be honest. Applications that ask about prior terminations, are more likely to discuss termination with you in an interview.

3. A full explanation is required: If the application process asks you to explain why you were terminated, note. Keep your explanation brief. You can tell the truth while leaving out specific details. If the hiring manager is interested in knowing more about your termination, they will ask you during the interview.

How to Explain Termination on a Job Application

If a full explanation about your previous termination is required during the job application, note. Below are straightforward steps, you can take to explain it honestly:

  1. Understand why you were terminated.
  2. Keep your explanation concise.
  3. Also, tell the truth.
  4. Describe your termination positively.
  5. Use soft language.

Understand Why You Were Terminated

Think about why you were terminated from the company. If you were part of extensive layoffs or the company you worked for went bankrupt, these extenuating circumstances would relate little to your job performance or ethics.

Hiring managers understand when situations happen that are out of their control. If your termination had something to do with your performance or an ethical issue, then think about how you have resolved the problem.

If you are unsure of the exact reason for your termination or sack. It can help to contact management or the human resources department, from your former job to get the official reasoning for why you were terminated.

Getting a clear answer, from your prior employer’s point of view can help you, discuss the circumstances with a potential employer.

Keep Your Explanation Concise

Keep your explanation concise

Your job application needs only a brief version of the entire story about why you were terminated. Explaining in great detail every circumstance and action, that took place, can cause a hiring manager to decide to interview other applicants before you.

Keep it short but positive. If you were terminated for job performance issues, note. State the reason why and what steps you’ve made to improve yourself since.

Example: If you were terminated for failing to meet a monthly sales quota, you can concisely explain the situation like this: “Let go for failing to meet selling standards. I have since acquired and studied under a sales mentor to learn new effective methods for boosting sales.”


Tell the Truth

It is vital, to tell the truth from the beginning. Applications that ask about terminations are commonly followed by interviewers that ask for additional details.

Getting to the interview is important. But explaining the situation truthfully is equally significant.

You can tell the truth. This is without divulging every piece of information about your termination. Remember to always add the proactive approach, you have taken to improve yourself.

Example: If you were let go because of continually failing to complete your daily tasks, you can tell the truth like this: “Terminated for failing to meet performance standards. I have since developed a comprehensive scheduling method, that I can use to keep myself accountable for my time and goals.”

Describe Your Termination Positively

There are ways to describe any termination positively. Since you can use the interview to explain your termination in more detail, using positive language in the application can show the hiring manager that you are confident about your future.

Being positive in the application can give you a better chance of being interviewed.

Example: If you were terminated unreasonably for an argument, between yourself and management, because of being overworked and doing other people’s jobs, explain it positively like this: “Let go due to a difference in opinion about work standards.”

Use Soft Language

Explaining the truth concisely, while softening the words you use can help. Thus, make the hiring manager feel more positive about your termination.

Example: If you worked as a finance manager and failed, to make a profit on any of your accounts, you can soften the language by describing your termination like this: “Mutual separation to explore new opportunities.”

Tips for Explaining Termination in an Interview

Tips for explaining termination in an interview

The hiring manager or interviewer may ask you about your termination, so understanding how to explain it in more detail is critical. Here are eight tips for explaining termination in an interview:

  • Process your termination mentally.
  • Secure a positive reference from your terminated job.
  • Speak positively.
  • Remain confident.
  • Keep your explanation brief.
  • Explain what you’ve learned.
  • Control the conversation.
  • Practice your responses.

Be Prepared for the Question

You should be prepared for the topic to come up. You might be asked in a job application, or maybe later, during the interview process. At some stage, employers will want to know why you left your previous position.

The question isn’t whether,  or not you will need to discuss your termination. But how to have the discussion when it comes.

Before you start, make peace with the past. Talking about losing your job, will bring thoughts and feelings back to the surface. And it’s better to get a handle on those things ahead of time.

The last thing you want, in an interview, is for unresolved emotions to bubble up as a resentful tone, negative comments, or defensive body language.

HR managers aren’t looking for the full story of your worst moments. They want to know what strengths, skills, and experience you can bring to a position. Don’t just prepare for the worst ‒ prepare for a positive, productive discussion.

Your CV Should Highlight Your Strengths

Losing your job may be part of your work history, but it doesn’t define you. So don’t lead with it. In fact, don’t put it on your CV at all. Prospective employers don’t expect to see that information at this stage.

Your CV should tell HR managers:

  • When you started a job.
  • When you finished it.
  • Also, what your role involved.
  • What you achieved.
  • Also, what skills you developed.
  • Additionally, how your experience will contribute to your next position.

Your CV is your opportunity to present the best version of yourself. Thus, to show off your skills, talents, and experience, highlight the highs and not the lows.

How to Explain Termination at a Job Interview

A lot of candidates assume having been fired is a deal-breaker for a hiring manager, but it isn’t necessarily the case. How you handle what happened, is going to have an impact on how the hiring manager perceives you.

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has negative experiences. Not everyone can turn them to their benefit, however, and if an employer sees that you can, they will know you are adaptable and positive and will bring those qualities to the new workplace.

We love to hear your experience in the comment section. Do not hesitate to share with your loved ones or media accounts. Do have a splendid year ahead!

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