How To Interview After Being Made Redundant

Young woman on a video conference using laptop at home

In an economic downturn, many businesses feel that in order to survive they have little choice but to lay staff off.  

It’s upsetting for your employer and devastating for you as you face a loss of income and having to say good-bye to colleagues who you may have worked with for several years. The culmination of these and other factors could lead you to lose confidence in yourself. 

To help you be at your best during an interview so a recruiter or an employer recognise you’re the right person for the job, here are some things to consider: 

Explaining the reasons for your lay-off in an interview

During the interview, it’s likely you’ll be asked to explain the reason why you were laid off. 

To stop your emotions from taking over, provide a short, concise and honest answer that explains the reason behind you being let-go. For instance, if you’re a Sales Manager and you were let go due to a down-turn in demand, you could say “Even though I was hitting each month’s sales targets, the company could no longer afford to keep me on due to sudden and unexpected drop off in demand. ”

If the reason for your lay-off was partially related to your performance, don’t be tempted to cover this up or lie about it, as the recruiter or hiring manager may check with your former employer.

Calmly state the reason and explain that you’re looking for a job that betters suits your skill-set, e.g.  “It was a mutual decision for me to leave X company, and I’m now looking forward to working for a company that’s better suited to my skills and where I can add real value. ”  

Talk about what you’ve been up to since being laid off

Make a point to highlight that you’ve been proactive with your time since being laid off.  

If you’ve used some of your time to volunteer, discuss what tasks and responsibilities you had, detail what soft skills you’ve developed through the role, mention what value you brought to the organisation and why you wanted to work with this charity or non-profit organisation. 

Likewise, if you spent time updating your skills – for instance, maybe you enrolled on some online courses or completed a qualification of some sort – go into detail about what you learned and emphasise how this acquired knowledge can add value to the company. 

For example, a marketing professional may choose to enroll on a social media marketing course. They could explain the skills they gained from this course can be applied to help boost the company’s engagement on social media. Which could eventually lead to more sales. 

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Research the role and the company

Showing that you’ve done some research into the company goes a long way to making a great first impression. And, it puts you in a good place to confidently answer the ‘What do you know about us?’ question. 

A good starting point is to look at the company’s website, particularly the ‘News’ or ‘Blog’ section if they have one. Here you should find articles or news stories about what the company has been up to recently. 

Also, do some research online to find out who their main competitors are, and see what they’re doing that this company isn’t. Use this information to come up with one or two ideas on how they can get ahead of their competitors. 

Try to find out from the recruiter or HR department who will be interviewing you. This will help you feel more at ease going into the interview. 

Finally, check if the company has a Glassdoor Company Profile so you can read reviews left by employees (both past and present) detailing what it’s like to work for them.  

Related [What To Research Before Any Job Interview]

Be prepared for the tough interview questions

Nearly everyone finds interviews tough – being put on the spot to answer personal questions can be daunting. And, while you can never know for certain what the interviewer will ask, preparing answers in advance for questions that regularly get asked will help you to feel more confident.  

One question that frequently comes up is ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ If you’ve been out of work for a while, the truthful answer may be that you need the money. But, this answer won’t go down very well with the interviewer. 

Instead, focus your answer on the job tasks, responsibilities, the company culture and reputation. You could choose to reply some thing like “I’ve been aware of your company for a while and I’m impressed by your work and vision. I feel my skills, particularly in X, Y. Z could bring a lot to your company.”  

Related [20 Toughest Interview Questions]

Take the opportunity to interview them 

During an interview it may seem like all the emphasis is solely on how much of a fit you are to the company. But, don’t forget that an interview is, in fact, a two-way process. 

You should at some point during the interview be given the option to ask the interviewer questions. Use this opportunity to find out more about the company’s vision and culture, what plans the company has in place for growth, where the role sits within the company and how they see it progressing over-time. 

These types of questions will help you to decide if the company and the job match your future career goals and your personal beliefs. Plus, it’ll make it clear whether there’s a long term career for you with the company. 

Also, use this time to ask more practical questions relating to the job, like if flexible working is available if the job involves travel or what benefits are offered with the job. 

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