Best Practices for Answering Interview Questions About a Layoff

You lost your job, but now you’ve landed an interview. That’s great news. So, what’s the best way to answer interview questions about a layoff? Follow these best practices.

Tips for Answering Interview Questions About a Layoff

Tell the Truth

It’s tempted to try to hide a layoff, but don’t do this. Most companies will run a background check and call your previous employers. When they discover you weren’t honest about your employment history, they won’t be impressed. The truth IS the best policy.

Be Brief

Although you’ll need to discuss your layoff, it’s not necessary to go into excessive detail. In fact, the more you talk, the more likely you are to dig yourself into a hole. Keep your explanation short and to the point. For example, you could simply explain the economic downturn forced your manager to make cuts across the board.

Highlight Your Qualifications

Once you’ve addressed your layoff, shift the focus to your skillset—specifically, detail how your experience in your past position makes you a great fit for this role. Additionally, point out any career-building activities you participated in during your unemployment. Maybe you took a class? Maybe you volunteered in a related field? Or maybe you completed a short-term contract assignment? Using your downtime to your advantage makes you look like a more motivated and, therefore, a more desirable candidate.

Stay Positive

You may feel angry and/or sad about your losing your old job. This is understandable. However, keep these emotions out of the interview. You should NEVER badmouth a past employer. This applies even if you were treated unfairly. Instead, emphasize the positive. For instance, you could say, “My old position gave me valuable experiences. I wish I could have stayed longer. Now, I am looking forward to pursuing new opportunities.”

Practice Your Response

Chances are, you WILL be asked about your layoff, so be prepared. Rehearsing your response out loud with a friend or in front of a mirror allows you to answer with confidence. And this helps to eliminate any doubts the interviewer may have.

Finally, recognize being unemployed can make it harder to land a job. (Forbes, 2019) Some companies may hold this against you. On the other hand, you’re not facing impossible odds either. Lots of people lose their jobs for lots of reasons. Smart companies (and those are the ones you want to join) will judge you based on the value you bring to the role rather than a layoff in your past.

Are You Looking for More Advice on Answering Interview Questions?

FirstStaff publishes weekly blog posts filled with job-hunting tips, including this Ultimate Guide to Basic Interview Questions. And if you need extra assistance with your employment search, our recruiters would be happy to assist with that too. Learn more about how we match great people with great jobs in Hot Springs, Arkansas and beyond!


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