5 Things to Consider on How to Explain a Termination on a Job Application

A job termination is an inescapable part of work. For those of us who have lost a job due to termination, it can be confusing and complicated. It gets more complicated when you need to know how to explain a termination. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have to be a negative situation. Explaining why your employment ended in termination can become a positive experience when done properly.

Job Application Termination

Main Takeaways:

  1. You should explain a job termination only when it’s necessary and relevant. Otherwise, it’s best to leave it alone. If recruiters ask you directly about it, it’s wise to address it openly and honestly while disclosing only the most relevant details.
  2. When explaining a job termination, it’s a good policy to be positive. Avoid blaming others. The last thing you want is to seem bitter or resentful about the situation. In contrast, show you have learned from it and moved on.
  3. A termination isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. While it is an unpleasant experience, it can yield a positive learning experience. It’s crucial to let recruiters know what you have learned from your previous termination. Take the time to explain how it has allowed you to grow as a professional.

The next time you’re faced with explaining a termination, consider these five things on how to explain a termination. These insights will help you avoid an unpleasant experience in your next interview.

When Should You Explain a Job Termination?

In short, you should not explain a job termination unless it comes up directly during the hiring process. While the aim is not to hide details, you should avoid explaining this situation needlessly- doing so opens the door to a number of issues. In particular, you may be faced with a series of questions the recruiters may not have had in mind.

Suppose you are asked to explain a termination at any point during the hiring process. In that case, it’s best to be honest and straightforward about it. The most important thing is to avoid lying or fudging details. Nevertheless, try sticking to the most relevant details. Blaming others or making excuses might make it seem like you’re hiding something. Instead, focus on what you learned and how you’ve improved as a result.

How to Explain a Termination

Explaining a termination begins with transparency. If you made a mistake, you ought to own up to it even if it wasn’t your fault. Companies like to see that you have the courage to admit your mistakes and have learned from them.

As you prepare for your next application, please consider these five insights on how to explain a termination.

1. Understand the Reasons Behind Your Dismissal

The first step is understanding why you were dismissed. Was it your fault? Was your termination related to your performance? Or was it an attitude issue?

Understanding these reasons will help you explain why you were dismissed. Suppose your termination was a direct consequence of your performance. In that case, it’s crucial that you express how you have learned and grown from that situation.

If your termination was a layoff, it’s essential to provide details into the circumstances surrounding your dismissal. If you’re not entirely sure, you may want to contact your previous employer to get some insight as to why you were terminated. This information will come in handy for your future job applications.

2. Keep it Short and Sweet

Some candidates may feel they need to paint a broad picture about their termination. However, that may not be necessary unless the recruiters ask you for a full explanation. In particular, please avoid assigning blame. Statements such as “I didn’t reach my sales target because I didn’t get any training” make it seem like you aren’t willing to accept your share of the situation. While the statement may be true, making excuses never looks well.

Also, please remember that putting a positive spin on things is always a good policy. Statements such as “It was a valuable learning experience” signal to the recruiters you are ready to move on from previous mistakes.

Reviewing job application

3. Be Honest

Sometimes, job applications ask for details about previous jobs. In particular, the application may include a yes/no question about termination. Something such as “have you ever been terminated?” may serve recruiters as a cue to ask you about a previous termination.

If the application does not explicitly ask you about it, then don’t mention it in the application. Instead, prepare your explanation for the interview. Try your best to be as forthcoming as you can. For instance, “I was terminated because I didn’t reach my sales targets” is an honest way of explaining the termination. Then, follow up with something like, “Since then, I have put in more time and effort to improve my sales skills.” This attitude bodes well during the rest of the hiring process.

4. Be Positive

Maintaining a positive attitude is always the best policy. Referring to previous employers negatively will only make you seem bitter or resentful. Instead, try your best be put a positive spin on your termination. For example, “they fired me because they didn’t like my work” puts a highly negative spin on the situation. Instead, a statement such as “I was terminated because we differed on work standards” highlights how you and your employer had different points of view on what was expected.

Above all, please remember that a termination can be seen as a positive experience. Therefore, you must strive to avoid coming off negatively. Maintaining a positive attitude will always get you bonus points.

5. Watch Your Language

When explaining a termination, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. As a result, you must choose your words carefully. Your tone must reflect a professional attitude toward this unfortunate situation. For instance, “I was let go because we couldn’t agree on anything” is a highly aggressive way of describing the termination. In contrast, statements such as “I was terminated because my superiors and I didn’t see eye to eye on the company policy” sound much softer.

Please remember that your attitude must always shine. Keeping a positive mindset, especially during adversity, is a clear sign of strong character. Above all, be sure to let recruiters know that your termination was a learning experience. The lessons you learned from this tough experience have enabled you to grow as a professional. Tell recruiters how your growth has allowed you to develop and mature into the valuable contributor you are today. It’s always best to find a silver lining in your termination experience.

How Can Simply Biotech Help You Get Your Next Job?

If you’re looking for your next job opportunity, Simply Biotech can help you. At Simply Biotech, we’re experienced professionals that know what it takes to match high-quality candidates with top-notch biotech organizations. We can help you find the specialized job opportunity you are looking for. Find out how Simply Biotech can help you get your foot in the door today!


This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice and should not be relied on as such. Simply Biotech is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.