How to Answer Questions About Your Job Loss in an Interview

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Whether you were fired, laid off, furloughed or something similar, job loss can impact your confidence both personally and professionally. Because of that, it’s likely you don’t want to talk about it often, if at all. But unfortunately, when starting the search for a new job, it will come up. It’s now a part of your career story and you need to learn how to address it in a way that makes you feel comfortable but allows a future employer to understand the full story.

While you’re starting your job search and before you go into any interviews, think about how you want to talk about your job loss. Since it’s a personal experience that just so happens to impact your professional life, there are a few ways you can go about it. Here are a few ideas to get your started.

Address it Head On

Your resume will likely give away the fact that you were let go or something of the like. Once you’re in an interview, use your experience as a way to answer a question related to hardships or challenges. This shows your potential employer that you can overcome obstacles and handle them with grace. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to tell your story, since it’s just that—your story.

However, shy away from going into too much detail. A potential employer doesn’t need to know exactly what happened, why it happened, or how it happened. Instead, simple state the circumstances and then what you did to move on and start looking for your next thing.

Talk About How You’ve Grown

If you have a decent gap on your resume, be prepared to talk about how you filled your time. No one wants to hear how you spent a week in bed after you were fired (but it’s totally OK if that’s what happened). What they do want to hear about is how you picked yourself back up. Did you take courses in your industry? Complete freelance or contract projects? Start networking right away?

Talk about how you used your newfound time to advance your knowledge. Not only does a potential employer see how you can persevere, but they also know they will be getting an employee dedicated to growing their knowledge base.

Offer References

Depending on how you left things with your former manager, they may not be the best reference. However, a former co-worker, teammate, or someone from another team you worked well with could be a better option. But, before you reach out asking them to be a reference, gauge their understanding of your job loss situation. Then, once you’ve re-established a rapport you can ask them if they would feel comfortable vouching for you as you start to look for new positions.

In any future interviews, you can then be open about your job loss and offer up a reference about the work you completed while there. While potential employers should take your word for it, it can go a long way to have a third party also weigh in.

So, while job loss isn’t something to shout from the rooftops, it also shouldn’t be something that makes you instantly clam up when mentioned. Practice your responses ahead of time so you feel confident in your answers and then use these tactics to hammer home how great of an employee you make. 

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