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Working Wise: Positive Job Interviews

Dear Working Wise,

I was laid off from my job unfairly. I worked for this company for over 6 months. During that time, I introduced a number of successful projects, including 1 that saved the company nearly 1 full-time position. That project was so successful that the president of the company asked me to work on another big project. But, I think my supervisor was jealous. As soon as the president went on vacation, my supervisor laid me off. Now, I’m angry. How can I explain what happened at my next job interview?
Signed, Furious

March 15, 2017

Dear Furious,

Before you can talk about your last job in an interview, you will need to change how you feel about what happened. Stick to the facts that you know instead of guessing what motivated your supervisor. You need a short, simple answer for why you were laid off.

You said that you saved the company nearly one full-time-equivalent position. It sounds like you could have worked yourself out of a job. That’s a great reason for leaving—one that will thrill other employers. Not having enough work for you is another valid reason. A number of employers have had to reduce their workforces over the past 2 years. Newly hired staff, for example, those with 6 months experience, are often the first to be let go during a slowdown.

Your brief answer will allow you to spend more time talking about your accomplishments and help prevent you from plunging into a negative story about your last supervisor. Negative talk about past jobs or supervisors triggers red flags for interviewers. No employer wants drama in their workplace, so keep your answers positive.

Check with your old supervisor to see if he will provide you with a positive job reference or letter of recommendation? If not, ask the president since she had so much confidence in you. That way, you can walk into your next interview with a list of accomplishments to talk about, a good reason for leaving, and a good reference.

If you would like further help preparing for your next job interview, visit your local Alberta Works or Alberta Supports Centre. They offer advice, books and free workshops on resumés, job interviews and job searches.

You can also check out the job interview tips in the Unavailable or Problem References and Stay Positive During Your Work Search articles.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/AdamGregor

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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