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7 Tips for answering job interview questions about a layoff

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7 Tips for answering job interview questions about a layoff

Layoffs are never easy to deal for any employee and as if having to look for a new job isn't hard enough during these difficult times, you also have to deal with the difficult interview questions as an  unemployed applicant. Use these 7 tips to answer potential interview questions about your layoff and still get the job!

2021 hasn’t been an easy year as the unemployment rate continues to steadily grow as an effect of the ongoing pandemic. Many employees feel the looming pressure of job insecurity and retrenchment. Employers all around the world have made the difficult decision to cut down on their workforce to cope with the pandemic, thus affecting numerous employees who are now trying to get back on their feet to seek new career opportunities.

Job searching is always difficult but in today's current environment it is even more challenging. And while there have been glimmers of light in the job market there is still a long way to go before, we get back to a normalized state of affairs. Many employees are coming to terms with dealing with long-term unemployment and navigating a very different job market. One thing that hasn't changed is being asked the question on the causes of your job loss, clearly for many the pandemic and not job performance was the main reason but the question will still be asked and needs answering in the best possible way. It is best to be prepared on how to answer why you were laid off, checkout these 7 tips.

1. Keep it brief

When talking about a layoff, it is advised to keep it concise, and be honest. You can briefly address it in just one or two sentences. Though it may feel difficult, try to be positive about your overall experience. Avoid mixing any negative commentary about your previous employer and colleagues: not only is it improper, but your new employer is likely to contact your old workplace to verify your status.

2. Highlight your added value

Put your best foot forward and show the value you added to your previous company. Ensure that you've listed your best achievements on your resume so that in your interview, you only need to elaborate with some anecdotal evidence. Don't forget to use numbers to quantify your impact and be specific in your examples. Also, tell them about any problems which you found a solution to.

3. Reassure with the facts

Some employers may ask directly, "why were you laid off?" Your answer must reassure your employer that you were not laid off due to poor performance, thereby decreasing the chances of inducing any bias. If possible, find out the number of people who were laid off at the same time as you. For example, the company may have had to cut 25% of your team to keep the company running.

4. Bridge any gaps

Being laid off can create an employment gap in your resume, which will be picked up on by your interviewer. Instead of passively waiting for it to be brought up, take initiative and address it yourself. It shows that you're not hiding anything, giving you the chance to discuss your efforts in improving your skills during that time. Include any sidelines, classes, or voluntary positions you may have taken in that period. These show that you were not idle and are serious about pursuing your current career.

5. Utilize your connections

One of the best ways to make a good impression despite a layoff is to use references. Try to get as many as you can from former colleagues, supervisors, or even customers who can provide testimonials, to ease any concerns your interviewer may have about your layoff. You can take this a step further by having any contacts working at the company you are applying for put in a good word.

6. Bring a portfolio

To impress your interviewer even more, bring a portfolio of your past work. You can include any reports, presentations, designs, etc. that showcase the projects that you have been a part of. Of course, don't use documents that have sensitive information about your former company. Present these in the most professional manner possible by sharing a link to your website or LinkedIn profile.

7. Chart your career growth

Explain to your interviewer your career path and how you're utilizing your layoff to find an opportunity that is a better fit for you and yourcareer goals. Emphasize your drive to pursue and elevate your career by talking about any classes or freelance work you did while looking for a new job.

A layoff can be a stressful experience that you may assume will affect your job prospects in the future. But that does not mean you cannot turn things and make the best of it. With everything going on the world right now, it is important to learn from past experiences, both good and bad, and carry that with you towards your journey in creating a new career path.

Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing.  By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career.  The world is your oyster, and it starts with you. 

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