Discussing Redundancy in Interviews

Did you lose your last role due to redundancy?

You have now dusted off your CV and are starting to get some interviews?

Are you fearful of getting asked that question “Why did you leave your last role?”

No need to be too worried – an honest, straightforward approach is the way to go!

50-60 years ago, there was more of a stigma associated with redundancy. It tended to be personal and was quite often caused by poor performance.

This certainly made the issue harder to navigate around during interviews.

These days however, with restructures, closures, organisational reconfigurations, “tweaks” and not to mention COVID-related impacts being so prevalent, it means that most people will more than likely experience redundancy on multiple occasions by the time they retire.

One of the few benefits of these situations is that it should make redundancy and job loss easier to discuss at an interview.

In fact, getting on the front foot and volunteering this information yourself allows you to better control the narrative and can result in you presenting as honest, positive and resilient.

It is quite common to get asked an introductory question such as “Why don’t you tell us about yourself?” or “Why don’t you introduce yourself?"

This can be an opportune time to briefly take the interviewers through your career history before then finishing your answer by explaining why you are now sitting across the table from them.

Important to explain the reasons behind the restructure, ideally depersonalize it by pointing out the fact that it was not just you who was impacted (if that was the case of course) and to emphasise some of the learnings form the process.

For example, an answer such as the following could suffice depending on the situation:

“And recently my former employer underwent quite a large restructure due to business downturn caused by COVID and this time around unfortunately my role, along with those of quite a few others, was made redundant.

Whilst this was quite confronting at the time as I had never personally experienced redundancy before, in many ways I am glad I have gone through it as I feel I now understand organisational change a lot better and am more resilient as a result."

Obviously also avoid “bagging” the organisation or management who were involved in making the decision that resulted in you losing your role; instead focus on the fact that you are ready to embrace your next challenge.

Onwards and upwards!

Paul Bell

Principal Consultant, Hender Careers

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