How to explain being let go just prior to an interview with another company?

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freezemb in Hermosa Beach, California

42 months ago

I've been looking around the forums here and haven't been able to figure out how to best handle this situation. In short I worked for a company that had been under going organizational changes which led to a %50 turnover of employees within my group within a period of one month. Knowing things were rocky and the fact that I was not happy in my current role, I began to seek other employment opportunities and managed to land a phone interview with another company a week out. In landing that interview I sent a resume which showed that at the time I was currently employed by company. However just few days I was let go for what I believe to be political reasons.

Now when I hear the question tell me about yourself in my next interview what is the best way to respond? I have a few strategies and would really appreciate some advice on this matter.

Strategy 1

Before we get into my background I just want to let you know that as of Date x I'm no longer working with company Y. (The assumption is that interview doesn't ask why and we continue) I've learned so many valuable skills at company Y and my experience in a, b and c would be a great fit for this current position and transition into my qualifications and the role.

Strategy 2

Before we get into my background I just want to let you know that as of Date x I'm no longer working with company Y. There had been some major organizational changes that had been taking place with my department that resulted in a 50% turnover of employees within my group during the last month and I was laid off. I learned many valuable skills in regards to this current role and my experience in x, y z would be a great fit for this new role etc.

This is the first time I've been let go from any position and have checked with my company that they don't provide any information besides, title, dates of employment, salary etc. Any advice appreciated!

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

42 months ago

I wouldn't volunteer your separation. Wait for the interviewer to ask about it. For all you know, the interviewer may not bring up your employment record at all. If he/she asks about "why are you no longer employed at XYZ," keep your answer brief and to the point. At that point you can trot out your "major organizational changes" spiel.

Keep your response positive. Briefly describe one or two of your accomplishments while you worked at XYZ. Then wait for any followup questions.

One rule we always followed when prepping clients before medical exams and depositions was to tell them not to be brief and not volunteer information. IMO that's also a good rule for job interviews.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

42 months ago

That should read: "One rule we always followed when prepping clients before medical exams and depositions was to tell them to be brief and not volunteer information. IMO that's also a good rule for job interviews."

Sorry for any confusion.

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Joe Gagill in Monticello, New York

42 months ago

Political reasons, what EXACTLY does that mean???

Usually bosses will give a solid reference if they LIKED you, even if company policy says otherwise.

I would talk to your immediate boss and his boss also if possible (depending on how well you know the higher up boss.) You need strong references! Don't think otherwise.

I'd tell them the truth early on during your next interview with them. (leave out the political part though) Early on in your next interview there's going be a moment/point in time where if you continue without telling them the truth you will be misleading them. You will know when you come to that moment.

Practice what you will be telling them. Be positive, do not get defensive, and be strong with your answer.

Sh*# Happens!

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freezemb in Hermosa Beach, California

42 months ago

Thank you very much for your advice. I know it's important to be brief and not mention any extra material but I'm a little worried about potential misrepresentation. Perhaps you'd be able to help with this quandary.

When the interview asks the question what did you do at company at X? I want to avoid being deceptive and answer in the past tense as I no longer work for the company. Basically I'm trying to avoid a potential lie of omission, because if I move on to the next round of interview and surprise them with the fact that I no longer with at company at X, I don't think it'll come off well. Remember for them they are assuming that I'm still working for such company per my resume since this only happened few days ago.

Also for further clarification since I was a contractor employee, I thought about saying as of date X, I'm no longer with company y as my contract assignment came to an end and transition that conversation into accomplishments per your suggestion.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

42 months ago

You always want to tell the truth. Telling the truth will set your mind free of worry about misrepresentation and lies of omission. You know about the "what a tangled web we weave...." axiom. Inasmuch as you no longer work at the company you will automatically answer in the past tense.

Your question goes to the third piece of advice we gave our law office clients for depositions and medical appointments. Answer only what is asked. So if the interviewer asks you, "What is your name?" your response will be "My name is Freezemb." By answering more than what the interviewer asked for you risk annoying him/her. Even worse, you may give him/her ideas for potentially troubling followup questions to ask you.

If you're asked the "tell me about yourself" question, just answer the question. Tell the interviewer about yourself. Keep it brief. Leave out personal stuff (which you shouldn't be asked about, anyway).

Once again, just tell the truth. The truth greatly simplifies the tough job of interview prep. The truth will set you free.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

42 months ago

I would add that when the interviewer hears you use the past tense he/she might ask the "When did you leave XYZ Company" question. No worries, especially in your situation. You tell him/her your contract assignment just ended. Contract assignments end all the time, especially in these times.

One other idea you might consider is to update your resume (even with the job separation) and bring some copies to the interview. Pass them around to the interviewer(s). IMO and FWIW you will demonstrate you are organized and on top of things.

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Hello in Santa Monica, California

42 months ago

^ I think the advice re: stating your contract ended is a poor idea. I caught someone lying about this before, and it makes me VERY annoyed at a job candidate. I have done contract work before, and my first reference is always my former supervisor, so the.

Say the truth: You began jobhunting b/c 50% of your department was gone in the past month and you were nervous about the stability of your company. Since you had applied, you too had lost your job. Simple.

All of this "I believe it was political" is just bs. Keep it short and sweet. Use another coworker who was also part of this 50% to provide a glowing reference about you and confirm that the company was unstable. Contact HR from your former employer, and inquire about employment verifications, and use that instead of a reference from your old boss.

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Hello in Santa Monica, California

42 months ago

Oh, I read your other message. Sorry for the triple post.

Just say you were contracting and noticed 50% of your team was gone in a month, so you began jobhunting. You were employed when you applied, but now you aren't. This is not a big deal at all.

Do emphasize that half your team was gone and your reasons for launching a jobsearch was because the company seemed unstable.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

42 months ago

Hello in Santa Monica, California said: I think the advice re: stating your contract ended is a poor idea. ...My first reference is always my former supervisor, so the person can confirm that I was, in fact, a contractor.
So, then, why is it a poor idea?

Contracts end all the time. Jobs end all the time. Employees are laid off all the time. Assuming these terminations do not reflect upon the candidate and/or candidate is not responsible for the termination, and the candidate can present a positive reference, nothing negative should accrue to him/her.

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Unemployed Paralegal in Denver, Colorado

42 months ago

Contracts end all the time. Jobs end all the time. Employees are laid off all the time. Even employees quit all the time. Assuming these terminations do not reflect negatively upon the candidate and/or candidate is not responsible for the termination, and the candidate can present a positive reference from the supervisor, i.e, candidate is not LYING, nothing negative should accrue to him/her.

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Hello in Santa Monica, California

42 months ago

I agree completely! Since it was an actual contractor role, then just say so. I misread it the first time, thinking he meant that he would pretend to have been a contractor.

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