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Interview Questions About Being Laid-Off

Interview Questions About Being Laid-Off

Are you looking for a job after a lay-off? Or did you get invited to a job interview and you have lost your job due to a layoff in the past, or maybe even your previous job? When this is the case, you need to approach your answer carefully and explain what happened. Getting laid-off is a hard process to go through.


Besides the financial hit that they usually bring, you might also fear future interviews where you have to explain why you’re leaving the company or why you’re looking for a new job. However, if you’re in this situation, prepare to answer interview questions about being laid-off.

Just to be clear, if you feel this way, you should not worry. There are a lot of people in similar situations, and lay-offs happen; it’s part of business cycles. The group of people that encounter lay-off situations in their professional career are larger than you may think. That being said, some hiring managers are sometimes more biased towards candidates who are currently unemployed or who are about to get laid off. Therefore, make sure you can answer the most common job interview questions and give a good impression of yourself.

So, how do you do this? How do you answer interview questions about being laid-off? How can you maneuver through this question and still present yourself in the best way possible? Read all about in this blog.

How to explain a layoff in a job interview

Whether you have a gap on your resume, were laid-off in the past or are about to be laid-off; interviewers will ask you questions to determine the actual reasons why you were not employed. Even though it’s a hard topic to discuss, regardless of the reason why you were laid off, don’t make up a story but try to be as transparent as you can be in the situation. Make sure that your resume is up to date and that you include the right begin and end dates of your most recent position.

If you were laid off, you need to prepare an answer to give the interviewer when he or she asks. Ensure that you can explain the circumstances at the organization that caused your layoff.

For instance, if the company got sold, merged with another company or reorganized; these are all reasons to layoff employees. The same goes for a situation in which a company or department is not profitable, loses market share and costs need to be cut. Maybe there’s an economic crisis and layoffs in general across the industry were inevitable. In general, layoffs are usually due to company-wide decisions, not specific performance issues of employees.

Whatever the case may be, you need to explain what happened and why. The main points to focus on is to give concise, brief answers with a positive attitude. Also, when explaining your situation, it’s a good idea to include something that you learned throughout the process.


The job interview is not the place and time to complain or badmouth previous employers or co-workers. Therefore, focus on yourself and make the answers you give about you and your situation. Don’t make up a story because the interviewer is most likely to find out. Try to turn the conversation towards why you applied for the position and why you want to join the company.

How To Explain Being Laid-off

As discussed earlier, stay positive in everything you say. If you are able to explain the circumstances under which you were laid off in a calm and positive tone of voice, this will come across as professional. Avoid making any negative comments about your previous employer, colleagues, or managers. Be factual an don’t get emotional or frustrated when talking about the situation. Also, make sure that you give an honest answer because there is always a chance that the interviewer checks with your former employer to verify the layoff circumstances.

Secondly, describe how you added value in your position. The interviewer will ask about your role in the organization and your responsibilities. Therefore, before you go to the interview, create a list of what you achieved in the position, what impact you had on the performance of the team or department and your added value in general.

Put your focus on your skills and abilities, qualities, qualifications, and knowledge that helped you perform to the best of your abilities in the position. What did you do, for instance, to increase sales, improve overall quality, raise funds, save money, resolve problems, etc.?

As a final tip, it is advisable to get testimonials from previous employers to substantiate your qualities and your performance. Ask former managers, clients, team members, directors, colleagues, or even members of your professional association to write employment references for you. References always work well to substantiate your statements about your qualifications.

Sample Answers To Questions About Being Laid-off

  1. Reorganization or downsizing

‘At the time, there was a restructuring going on within the organization, and unfortunately, my whole department was impacted. The company reorganized and shifted some of our responsibilities to other departments while updating and automating other processes. In total, 10% of the workforce was laid off. During my job-hunt, I’ve been active in my local community for a nonprofit organization to help them structure their team and help with various other administrative needs.’

It’s always good to show that you’ve been active while looking for a job. This shows engagement and that you’re a proactive personality.

  1. Reduction in force (RIF)

‘The company decided to close down our entire division to dramatically decrease costs. This impacted almost 20% of the workforce across Europe. I was one of those affected individuals, unfortunately. Over the last period, I had the time to re-evaluate my skills, abilities, strengths, and interests, and I’ve enrolled in classes to update my knowledge levels and improve my skills. I also have been busy with…’ (fill in more information on what you’re doing currently and how you’re staying up to date of market/industry developments.)

  1. Temporary Layoff

‘The work I did in the tourism industry was mostly based on the high season. During the off-season, I would usually go and find other work to do and go back to tourism once the season started. For now, I’ve decided for myself that I need a more stable job and income to support my family. I’m currently working on  my (insert skills) skills to make sure I’m developing as a professional and can help the company as well as possible, also in the future.’

  1. Permanent layoff

‘Due to the financial crisis, the company took a hard hit and analyzed its organization structure. They tried everything possible, and the last resort was to let people go. The company was fairly small, and I was one of 10 people that were laid off. Even though the situation was stressful, I learned that I should invest more in myself so that I’ll be less expendable in future positions. I’ve started picking up classes and attending seminars to invest in my career and myself in general. The latest course that I attended was (insert course)…’

Your goal is to describe the situation and what happened why you got laid off. Also, tell what you learned from the experience and end on a positive note about your self-development and future goals.

Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Adaptability
  3. Admission
  4. Behavioral
  5. Career Change
  6. Career Goals
  7. Communication
  8. Competency
  9. Conflict Resolution
  10. Creative Thinking
  11. Cultural Fit
  12. Customer Service
  13. Direct
  14. Experience
  15. Government
  16. Graduate
  17. Growth Potential
  18. Honesty & Integrity
  19. Illegal
  20. Inappropriate
  21. Job Satisfaction
  22. Leadership
  23. Management
  24. Entry-Level & No experience
  25. Performance-Based
  26. Personal
  27. Prioritization & Time Management
  28. Problem-solving
  29. Salary
  30. Situational & Scenario-based
  31. Stress Management
  32. Teamwork
  33. Telephone Interview
  34. Tough
  35. Uncomfortable
  36. Work Ethic

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