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Asked by Nicolas on May 3, 2013

I was terminated from my last job. When I was informed, the HR manager and my manager informed me that they would not be explaining to me why I had been terminated, and that if I was interested in finding out why I had been terminated I would have to schedule an interview with the vice-president of operations running our location. I did so, and he informed me that he approved my termination because it was requested by my manager, and upon review of my personnel folder he didn't see any specific reason to keep me. Unfortunately, this doesn't help me to understand why my manager requested my termination. How can I address this on an application that requests information regarding my reasons for leaving my previous position?

Answered by Emily, Hiring Expert at Fifth Third Bank, on May 15, 2013

Thank you for submitting the question. I can understand your frustration. The best way to handle this situation on an application is to answer the question honestly and directly. Sometimes the question can be worded in different ways and the application requires more or less information. So, be sure to read the questions carefully and be as accurate as possible. When asked your reason for leaving, you would list "termination." If asked for more detail or why, it sounds like it was based on performance, beyond that it's hard to provide more detail. You can provide the name and number for a reference so they can all and ask for more information. At least this answers the question honestly and directly.

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Answered by Susan, Hiring Expert at Praxair, Inc., on May 20, 2013

I can honestly say I have never heard of such a scenario.

You should be allowed access to what is in your personnel file.  This may have to be with someone else in the room, but that should be OK.  You will be able to take "notes" of what is in your file, but perhaps not photo copies. 

I would again ask, in writing, the specific reason for your termination; this may also help.  You may want to cc: someone in the Legal department as well as they may be able to assist.

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on March 11, 2014

You’ll need to be completely honest when asked about your reason for leaving on applications or in interviews for future employment. If the application asks for a reason for leaving the prior job you will have to write “termination.” If you honestly do not have any idea why you were terminated then there is no reason to speculate to a future employer. Simply say the reason is “unknown” and the prospective employer will make his/her decision based on other information acquired about you during the application and interview process. As always, be sure you can articulate (both on your resume and in the interview) clear examples of when you have successfully performed the duties required for the job for which you are applying.

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