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How to explain your redundancy in a job interview

21 Apr 2021

If you’ve been made redundant, don’t be afraid of communicating it clearly on your CV and in a job interview, writes Hays’ Jane McNeill.

If you have recently been made redundant, you may feel as though you’re facing an uncertain future. Once the initial shock subsides and your thoughts turn to your next job search, you may also wonder how to best explain your redundancy on your CV and in future job interviews.

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Try to look to your future with hope and optimism, however disappointed and disheartened you may feel in the short term about the redundancy itself. Know that you can make a difference to an employer and your skills are valued.

With this in mind, here are some ways to acknowledge your redundancy as you search for a new role.

Explain the situation

Take your opportunity to explain the situation. If the interviewer asks you to expand on the circumstances around your redundancy beyond what your CV states, be prepared to elaborate on, for example, whether there were multiple redundancies in your department due to Covid-19 disruption.

Highlight your successes in the role

Reference your successes in the role from which you were made redundant. Your accomplishments in your last job are no less valid simply due to your redundancy – after all, your redundancy is not a reflection of your abilities or how well you performed in the role.

So, be ready to cite your achievements that best demonstrate your suitability for the job you’re interviewing for and how you wish to build on these. Just as you should include quantifiable results on your CV, you should also mention these in interviews to help illustrate your competence and ability.

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Use positive language

Don’t blame or talk negatively about your previous employer. Any reference to the manager or organisation that made you redundant should be in the context of being thankful for your time, learning and achievements with them.

Also explain how – while you were disappointed to leave – you immediately turned your attentions to refocusing your career goals and identifying your next steps.

Tell them what you’ve been doing since

Focus on what you have been doing since your redundancy. Have you been upskilling or attending webinars? What about reading papers and books on your industry? Maybe you’ve been volunteering or participating in charity work?

Describe these activities in an authentic way that helps present you as a strong candidate for the role and a rounded person. Make it clear to the interviewer that the way in which you’ve used your time since leaving your last job makes you an even stronger potential employee for this position.

Discuss why you’d be a good fit

You won’t want to create the impression that you are simply applying for any role that will get you rapidly back into the workplace; you want to make it clear to the interviewer that it’s this specific opportunity that you’re interested in.

So, in the interview, describe why this would be the logical next job for you and would make you the right choice for the potential employer. What skills and experiences have you gained, both in your past roles and since you were made redundant, that you could bring to this new role to help the organisation achieve its own objectives for this position?

A sample answer to help you explain your redundancy

How do you think you might answer when an interviewer asks you about your redundancy? Here is an example to work with.

My previous employer had to make a series of budget cuts and, as a result, my role was made redundant. However, I’m proud of what I achieved in my previous position as a credit controller – for example, I built a new streamlined process in order to speed up customer credit checks that was subsequently adopted by the wider business.

Since being made redundant, I’ve used my time out of the workplace to really think about what I want from my next role and have also been proactively keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry.

This role particularly caught my attention as I’m keen to find an opportunity where I can build on my existing skillset, manage a team and really help drive the business forward.

By Jane McNeill

Jane McNeill is director of Hays Australia. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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