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Job Interview Tip: How to Discuss a Layoff

August 15th, 2011 · 1 Comment

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How to discuss a layoff in a job interviewBeing laid off can feel so awkward to a job seeker that it paralyzes them in an interview situation and undermines their candidacy–but it doesn’t have to. I’m going to show you how to change the language you use and the perspective you have about your layoff to boost your confidence and calm the concerns of a potential new employer. So: How do you address a layoff?

First things first

In a phone interview, you will be asked right off the bat about why you are no longer with such and such employer. You need to be prepared to answer that question so that it positively biases the hiring manager (or the recruiter, whoever’s calling you) towards you. One of the key questions that I ask (as a recruiter) when I talk to someone about a layoff are “How many people got laid off?” If you were with a company of 1,000 people, and only 25 got laid off, I want to know why you were one of those 25? If there was a layoff where 45% of the sales force was laid off, that seem like it would be difficult to determine who got laid off. It’s important to think about the parameters of your layoff. The key concern of that recruiter or hiring manger is “Was it just you?” and then, “Is there some kind of issue with you?” If you are able to legitimately show that it wasn’t just you, and in fact, didn’t really have a whole lot to do with you or your performance, you’re in a much better spot.

Talk about your references

If you have very positive references from a layoff situation, it alleviates the question of “Was it due to performance?” That makes us feel much more comfortable with your candidacy. Even if you were terminated, a few good references can mitigate a lot of damage.

Show evidence of your success

Brag books are wonderful vehicles for showcasing your success on the job. They can include performance reviews, examples of your work, awards letters, complimentary emails, even. Any kind of “testimonial” in your favor can be a part of your brag book. It’s all evidence of how well you’ve done at your role that goes a long way to tilting the scales in your favor.

Focus on your future success

In addition to your brag book, show them forward-looking documents that paint a picture for them of what you’ll do in this position. Candidates often use a 30-60-90 Day Plan to do that. Those plans can really help with your candidacy because they highlight your initiative and work ethic, and they help people focus on the positives that you can bring to this organization, rather than the circumstances of why you’re no longer with your last one.

This is a guest post. About the author:

Peggy McKee offers more tips, tools, and techniques to be a standout candidate on her blog at =>

Control the job interview and create a hiring frenzy when you bring a 30/60/90-Day Plan. Find out more at =>

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