If you’ve been laid off from your job, you may feel like there’s a giant spotlight on you that makes interviews feel more like interrogations. Being laid off is a difficult situation and you do need to be careful about what you say. However, there are ways to answer interview questions about your layoff that make sense and make them feel good about offering you the job.
1. ‘Why were you laid off?’
In many cases, ‘why’ is a much bigger concern than ‘that’ you were laid off. Layoffs happen all the time, but the circumstance is what’s most important. So, if you can truthfully say that it was a mass layoff situation (like 20% of the staff), for whatever reason, that’s a good answer you don’t have to be nervous about. If you were part of a smaller group, it’s best if you can still make the point that it had nothing to do with you personally…maybe they cut that department, or reorganized and made your position go away, or something. If you can’t say that, then you may have to admit that it was a bad situation. No matter what, offer your references as proof that you will be a great person to hire.
2. ‘Why have you been out of work for so long?’
The job search can be a tough time for a lot of people, but it’s important not to show it—even if you’ve been in the search for a while. The best way to be positive with this answer is to explain that you’ve remained out of work by choice. For instance, “I took some time off first for a few personal things before I hit the job search, so I’ve really only been looking for the last few months. I’ve been on some interviews but haven’t really seen something yet that is a great fit—although it’s really picked up lately, so I don’t think I’ll be searching for much longer.” This last sentence is very important to plant that seed that you’re not going to be available forever.