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How to Respond to "Why Were You Let Go" in an Interview?​

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Losing a job can be a difficult and emotional experience, especially when it comes time to explain the situation in a job interview. When asked “Why were you let go?” by a hiring manager, it can be tempting to feel like you’re being held accountable for something you didn’t do. However, with the right preparation, you can turn this potential challenge into an opportunity to show your resilience, motivation, and suitability for the role you’re interviewing for.

Table of Contents

Preparing Your Response

When preparing your response to the question “Why were you let go?”, it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of your previous job and company, as well as on the opportunities and growth that resulted from your separation. Here’s an example of what you could say:

“I loved working at X company. It was a great learning experience, and I had the privilege of working with amazing colleagues and a supportive boss. Although it was heartbreaking to lose my job, I realized that it might be the best thing for me in the long run. If it wasn’t for the layoff, I might have stayed with the company for another decade, simply because it was comfortable. But now, I have the chance to seek out new challenges and take on new risks, including interviewing for this role we’re discussing today. I believe that my background, experience, skills, and education are a perfect fit for your company, which I have always held in high regard.”

Emphasizing Your Motivation and Fit

Handshake following successful interview

Once you’ve addressed the question “Why were you let go?”, it’s important to emphasize your motivation and fit for the role you’re interviewing for. Here’s an example of what you could say:

“Your company is fantastic, and this opportunity is my dream job. My background, experience, skills, and education are all a perfect match for the requirements and expectations of this role. I’m confident that I’m in the right place at the right time to make a valuable contribution to your team and your business.”

Overcoming the Emotional Impact of Losing a Job

Losing a job can have a significant emotional impact, especially if you’ve been successful in your career so far. You might feel like a failure, disoriented, and lacking in identity, especially if you’ve associated your personality and self-worth with your job title. To help you overcome these feelings, it’s important to take care of yourself, process what happened, and seek feedback and constructive criticism from your previous boss and colleagues.

It’s also important to stay positive and focused when entering the job interview process. Although it’s natural to feel discouraged and resentful, it’s important to come across as a winner and a motivated candidate. Remember that in a competitive job market, hiring managers have many candidates to choose from, and they want to see someone who is confident, enthusiastic, and ready to make a positive impact on their team and business.

The Right Attitude

Business men and women celebrating with champagne

Dealing with a layoff can be a challenging and emotional experience, but with the right preparation and attitude, you can turn it into an opportunity to show your resilience, motivation, and suitability for the role you’re interviewing for. By focusing on the positive aspects of your previous job and company, emphasizing your motivation and fit, and overcoming the emotional impact of losing a job, you can increase your chances of landing your dream job and starting a new chapter in your career.

Create a CV that demonstrates why you are the right person As an ambitious professional, you have a clear vision of where …

Are you interested in improving your interviewing skills?

Dave Crumby

I have spent the last 10 years supporting companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to find and the best talent around the world.  

During this time, I have:

✔️ Scanned and reviewed more than 26000 CVs.

✔️ Conducted over 7000 interviews.

✔️ Secured new jobs and promotions in 20 countries across 3 continents.

For the past 4 years I have been developing best practices and solutions to give job seekers more confidence in interviews.  I run 1:1 virtual interview workshops which show you how to articulate your values and strengths.  Just like in sport, perfect practice makes perfect interviewing.  Learn how to take on any interview with confidence with My Interview Workshop:

  • Successful Interview techniques & strategy session.
  • 1 X mock interview.
  • Feedback, recommendations, and reflections session.

Are you interested in working with me?

Email me today.

Best of luck,

Dave Crumby

Your Career Optimiser | Certified Leadership and Management Consultant

Winner of Most Supportive Career Branding Service 2022

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