How To Talk About Being Laid Off in a Job Interview?
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Navigating a job interview can be challenging, especially when it comes to discussing sensitive topics – such as layoffs. How to talk about being laid off in a job interview is a crucial skill in today’s games industry job market. Unfortunately, we are grappling with layoffs since 2023, and the beginning of 2024 brought even more sad news about studios or projects closing or restructurizing, laying off many talented gamedevs. In this article, we aim to provide you with strategic advice and practical tips to confidently address this subject, ensuring you can turn a potentially awkward conversation into a demonstration of your resilience and adaptability. We are a team of games industry recruiters, yet we believe most of our advice will be applicable to other industries as well.
Be Open About Your Layoff
Given the wave of mass layoffs in the gaming industry since 2023, being laid off isn’t unusual or a mark against you in the eyes of recruiters or hiring managers. We’re aware of market trends, follow the announcements about layoffs and can easily contextualize layoffs, even from smaller or lesser-known studios. We can’t emphasise this enough: being impacted by layoffs doesn’t diminish your value as a candidate.
Maintain Emotional Balance
Recruitment experts often recommend speaking about past job experiences with some sort of enthusiasm, leading many candidates to highlight their previous employers in a positive light. While it’s okay to speak favorably about past roles, overpraising isn’t necessary. When it comes to behavioral job interview questions, honesty about the challenges you’ve faced is key. If you’re asked about times when you had to offer negative feedback or work with limited resources, these questions aim to understand your approach to difficult situations, not to coax you into criticizing your former employer. Skirting around these questions or claiming never to have faced any workplace challenges doesn’t serve you well. We recognize that every job has its hurdles, and what matters to us is how you overcome them.
Building on the previous point, we often navigate a full spectrum of emotions in interviews with job seekers who have gone through layoffs. Particularly when these layoffs have been the subject of industry-wide discussion, and the experience is still fresh, it’s common for candidates to let negative emotions steer the conversation. And look, as industry peers we kinda get it. But focusing too much on the reasons behind the layoff, such as funding issues or management challenges, can shift attention away from what truly matters: your compatibility with the new role. Let’s concentrate on the opportunity at hand and how you can contribute to the studio we’re hiring for.
Identify the Silver Linings
Although not an advantage on its own, your layoff can highlight your immediate availability or openness to different working arrangements than those at your last job (perhaps you previously worked from the studio and now you’d like to go 100% remote?). Reflect on the benefits of your situation before the interview, such as newfound flexibility or skills you’ve developed in the meantime. Write them down.
Showcase Your Proactivity Post-Layoff
In addition to emphasizing resilience and adaptability, highlight how you’ve enriched your career since being laid off. Whether through hobbies, upskilling, volunteering, or taking on temporary roles, sharing these experiences can be very persuasive. Discussing your job hunt strategies can also be advantageous, especially if you’ve treated the job search like a full-time role and developed an efficient routine that’s led you to this interview. Your approach to staying active and engaged during this period demonstrates initiative and dedication.
At the same time, it’s equally important not to conceal if you took some downtime initially. We as recruiters understand and fully support the need for a period of adjustment. Also, no hiring manager will view negatively a candidate who required time to process the loss of their job. After all, job loss is ranked as one of the top 10 most stressful life events on The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Remember, taking time to regroup and then moving forward with renewed focus is a sign of strength.
We hope that now you know how to talk about being laid off in a job interview and we encourage you to embrace your journey with confidence. Each step, whether active or reflective, is a valuable part of your professional story.