How to handle the fact that you have been Laid Off in an interview

What does it mean about you if you were laid off? Does it mean that you are not employable or that there is something wrong with you? Absolutely NOT! People who have been laid off are getting hired all the time. The lay off is not what matters. What matters is how you handle your explanation of being laid off in the interview.

I meet with hundreds, if not thousands of job seekers every year. In the past 2 years, a large number of these job seekers have been people who were laid off. Many of them ask me what are they doing wrong that is not having them land the job. I share with them that they are not doing anything wrong, it is just that they are not being effective in their explanation of why they left their last position.

Often times, when I ask someone why they left their last position they will give me an incredulous look that says “duh!,”and then they will say some version of the following “I was laid off,” “My company closed,” “My position was eliminated,” etc.. DO NOT FOCUS ON THE LAY OFF! The problem is that everyone is saying the same thing and that is NOT memorable. What I coach my clients to do is to focus on what they liked about their last job, rather than focusing on the lay off, and then to follow up with how excited they are to find a great new position they can stay at long term. For example, if Betty was at her company 5 years and she loved her job, I would have Betty start by telling the employer why she stayed at her job for 5 years and how much she enjoyed her job. Then I would coach Betty to lightly mention the lay off, and finish by focusing on what she gets to create in her next position.

There is a little mantra that I teach people that helps them to remember this for their interview. I call it the GOOD-BAD-GOOD method. Next time you get stuck on a tricky question that could come across as negative in an interview, always try to start with a positive, lightly touch on the negative aspect, and then finish by bringing it back to a positive.

Good luck!

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