Explaining a Lay Off or Firing In an Interview

April 9th, 2019

Experiencing a Work Lay Off or Firing is Emotional

And awkward. And no one wants to talk about it, especially during an interview. If you were laid off or were fired, the subject is going to come up. The interviewer is not looking to shun you, they just need to know what happened.

To clarify, a lay off and firing are two different things. With a lay off,  it typically has nothing to do with job performance. Layoffs occur when a company undergoes restructuring or downsizing or goes out of business.

Employees can be fired for a variety of reasons and are usually related to work performance or negative behavior.

Whatever happened, do this to help explain your situation.

Layoff: State the Facts 

There are certain things you must say in an interview, and then there are certain things that you most definitely should not say in an interview. Bad-mouthing your former employer is one of those things not to say! Even if your boss was a horrible person, or even if the company laid off a bunch of employees for what you suspect is no good reason, you have to remain professional.

If you were laid off, all you need to do is briefly state why you were laid off.

Addressing Being Fired

The way you explain what happened will make the difference. Your answer must be a believable and true statement, short, positive, and not critical of the company. To help you explain the firing, first answer these questions:

1. What did your former company tell you when you were terminated?

2. What do you believe was the reason for your termination?

Using the information above, write out a short answer.  Then, read the answer out loud in front of a mirror or video yourself and watch how and what you said. Is it smooth?  Is it honest?  Does it have any negative or critical comments about your past company?  If so, revise it!

Once you have completed this step, and feel good about your answer,  you will probably feel relief and begin to be comfortable with moving on in your job search.

Give Your Lay Off or Firing Situation a Positive Spin

Once you’ve covered the brief details of why you’re unemployed, do a quick flip. Focus on what you’ve been doing since you’ve been laid off or fired and how your positive attitude has gotten you over this obstacle. Rehearse a little speech on how you’re ready to tackle a new challenge and you’re looking forward to the future.

The rest of your interview should be business as usual. Remain positive and confident. Your potential employer won’t even remember that dreaded question if the rest of your interview outshines it. So be prepared. Be practiced. And that’s all there is to it.

Reach Out for Your Next Job Opportunity

You do not have to figure it all out on your own. Work with our award-winning job placement experts – free of charge! – to get you back to work. Contact any ABR office to get started.