Keeping it Positive During an Interview

Happy HR Person

At this point, it seems redundant to say that last year has been challenging.  The global pandemic has led to issues in every field in every part of the globe.  Layoffs have been common all over the country.  Now that the job market is once again opening up, more people are interviewing for open positions.  If you are not currently working, your interviewer will ask about the layoff and what you have been doing in the meantime.  How you answer these questions will leave a lasting impression on your interviewer.


Keep it Positive and Keep it Brief


When asked about being laid off, it is essential to keep your emotions under control and not react in any way that may show anger or bitterness.  When asked about it, keep your answer short and keep it positive.  Explain the situation as best you could in a couple of sentences keeping your response anywhere from neutral to positive.  A negative response could quickly destroy whatever repour or chemistry you have built up to that point.


It is best to be prepared for these questions.  Practice answering these questions and listen to your answers.  If you feel that the answers are coming across as negative in any way, you may want to write out your potential answers and even run them by someone you trust to prepare when the questions come up.


Explain Gaps in Employment


If you lost your job due to the COVID Pandemic, then the employment gap may not be very long, so it may not be too much of an issue.  If your employment gap has gone on for months or even years, you need to be prepared to explain the wide gap in employment.  This is another opportunity to take a potentially negative response and turn it into a positive.  If you say that you have had no luck or no opportunities, it may seem to a potential employer that you are doing nothing to improve your situation.


Talk about Training or Volunteer Work


Explain what you have done to fill in the gap to improve your overall situation.  Talk about any classes you might have taken or any training you took to expand your skillsets and improve yourself.  If you filled in the gap with volunteer work, talk about that as well.  Volunteering shows that you are not content to sit still, and given the opportunity, you went out into the world to contribute however you were able to.

Over the last year, it would not be unheard of that a gap in employment was due to either becoming sick or having to take care of a family member who had been ill.  Even in these situations, you could bulk up the response by talking about things you did while concentrating on your health or that of a loved one.  Talk about the books you might have read related to your field or any online seminars you attended.


The most important thing is to show that you didn’t sit idle.  It is essential to show that you were doing something to improve yourself and stay engaged.


Show your Value


When talking to an interviewer, do not be afraid to highlight your strengths and what you brought to the table.  Tell your interviewer about the sales you made or the money you saved the business through implementing new processes or efficiencies.  Talk about what separates you from the rest, and do not be afraid to talk in terms of what you did.  You might have been part of a team, but you don’t have to share credit for things you did.  Those team members are not interviewing for this position. 


You have to find a balance to show that you can work as a part of a team while also highlighting the positive things you brought to the team.


Interviewing for a new position can be stressful.  If you are currently out of work, every interview is a potential light at the end of the tunnel.  Remain calm and in control, and when asked about your layoff or employment gap, remember to keep it positive and focus on the positive.  Positive vibes go a long way in leaving a great impression, and if the final decision comes down to a choice between you and another candidate, it will be “soft skills” that will give you the edge.  Being able to remain positive in the face of all that was negative is a great soft skill to have.