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How To Answer Interview Questions When You’ve Been Laid Off

How To Answer Interview Questions When You’ve Been Laid Off

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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.

Related: How To Answer 5 Tricky Job Interview Questions

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.

3. ‘What have you been doing since you were laid off?’

Obviously, since you were laid off, you’ve been looking for a job—but don’t say that. There are questions behind this question about how you deal with tough situations, what your energy level is like, and what you do with new opportunities. The ideal way to answer this question is to talk about how you’ve been learning something new that will assist your career success. Other great answers talk about how you’ve been volunteering, taking a class, or even working out. I know a gentleman who hit the gym and lost 50 pounds during his job search. That’s impressive by itself, but it also helped keep his spirits positive while he searched. When you talk about active things you’ve done (besides job searching) you show them someone who’s always striving for success. That will boost their interest in you as a candidate.

**Find out how to answer 50 tough interview questions in this free ebook: How to Answer Interview Questions – 50 Tough Interview Questions…Answered!

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About the author

Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.


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Peggy McKee Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.