07 April 2016
Anyone who has been laid off from a job knows that it can be a difficult subject to broach with your network, let alone a prospective employer. Unfortunately, hiring managers will want to know why you were let go, which means it is something that you will need to address in an interview. But first? You need to come to terms with it yourself. Answering these inevitable questions requires confidence, so it’s important to take the time to assess the situation, understand how to highlight your strengths, and show how you have made the most out of an unfortunate experience. Once you take these preliminary steps, here’s how to create an interview strategy that allows you to successfully disclose a layoff: Honestly state the facts: Trying to hide or blur the details of your layoff can certainly do much more harm than good. Not only will the employer likely pick up on your dishonesty, they will probably attribute it to a lack of confidence or respect. Instead, be as honest as possible about the reason(s) you were let go without placing the blame on others. Whether it was due to downsizing or your performance, your transparency can help create a foundation of trust between you and your hiring manager – something that is integral to moving forward in the interview process. Be the first to address it: Remember, the hiring manager has asked you to interview for a reason. Don’t discount that by letting the elephant in the room overshadow the value you could bring to the organization. While you may be nervous to bring up such a sensitive topic, doing so allows you to take control of the situation. Not only does it show initiative, but it also gives you the opportunity to address any of the employer’s concerns early on in the conversation – ultimately, allowing the two of you to move onto more important topics. Explain what you’ve learned: Often times, how you manage a career set back can say a lot about who you are as a professional. In fact, those who handle them well generally have a strong degree of emotional intelligence – a highly desirable skill in candidates. Some key features of emotionally intelligent people include personal accountability and self-awareness, which means someone with this skillset will be more likely to acknowledge their mistakes and identify areas for improvement. To show that you have done this in your time off, explain how you have reflected on your experience, learned from it, and are working to move forward. If you have been out of work for a more significant amount of time, you’ll also want to emphasize what you’ve done to benefit your career in the meantime. Whether that has been through volunteering, taking on temporary roles, or attending continuing education classes, it’s important to show how you have been productive in your down time. Keep it simple: The above tactics can be helpful, but getting carried away in the details can quickly unravel your confidence. Keep your story clear, factual, and simple. Rambling shows insecurity and might imply that you haven’t quite moved on. Plus, interviews can go by quickly, and you don’t want to waste too much of your time to make an impression by dwelling on the negatives. Instead, strive to keep the rest of the conversation focused on your strengths and why you’d be a great fit for the company.