I'm filling out a job application that asks the question "Have you ever been terminated or asked to resign from a position in the past?"
I did get fired from a job back in 1998. It was my first high-profile tech job after I graduated high school, and I was still very much a smug kid with a crappy work ethic. I antagonized my boss whom I despised, and I naively believed that finding work was pitifully easy since this was the height of the dot-com bubble at the time.
I won't even try to spin this as "not my fault" because it totally was. I'm perfectly comfortable owning up to the mistakes I made because that was over 20 years ago and I was a literal teenager at the time. I've done a lot of growing up since then and I'm a different person now.
On the one hand, I want to be honest and forthright on a job application. On the other hand, HR departments often use this question to immediately reject potential applicants without consideration of the reasons.
I've had a long and successful career since then and I don't feel that being fired an entire lifetime ago is relevant to the position I'm applying for now. I'd be fine with engaging the discussion in an interview if asked, but there is no room in a 400 character text box for that kind of nuance. The job I got fired from isn't on my resume because it was so long ago, and the company doesn't even exist anymore.
I'm looking for work because I've recently been laid off from a job I've had for 10 years due to an acquisition and workforce reduction. It was made clear to me by my former boss and my termination paperwork that the layoff is in no way related to performance or disciplinary reasons. In fact, my most recent performance review was positively stellar. But a layoff is already a small hill I have to climb and I don't want to further taint an application to a potential employer with something that shouldn't even matter anymore.
Is there an acceptable expiration date on such questions? Will I be branded a liar if I answer no?
If I answer yes, how could I explain it succinctly, and do HR departments typically consider those explanations when screening applicants?