It was not your fault. It came as a shock. It is somewhat a betrayal… One day you were working in your company, had been for quite some time in fact; and the next you are out.
When companies ‘kick people out’, the employees who are the victims of these moves often suffer from a storm of feelings… and must keep these to themselves during interviews.
Let’s face it: it is difficult to show your best profile while explaining you have been fired. It does not matter that you have a good case against your previous employer and you will win the lawsuit. It does not matter either that they compensated you very well. WHAT MATTERS IS THAT IT IS THE PAST.
Even if it is very hard to keep it to yourself, mostly because things are not finished or not fully sorted out, your redundancy is NOT the subject of your current recruitment interviews. The recruitment consultants, HR professionals or potential managers you are meeting are not your lawyer…
Remember that you will have in front of you people, and that recruitment processes are not 100% rational. The person who will select you are influenced by what they perceive. Talking about something negative, and/or that you don’t have made your peace with, brings in ‘bad vibes’ to say the least.
Don’t bring the subject up if you can, because it will always appear defensive to the ones in front of you. If you are the one initiating the discussion about it, it will sound ‘fishy’ and will appear like you want to hide something, or something similar. It is a ‘bad’ experience, it’s not normal to want to talk about bad experiences spontaneously, right? A job interview is not a confession.
On the other hand, you can’t hide it/from it and you need to have a short, clear, precise and positive answer for the questions which WILL arise: “Why are you looking for a new job?” “Are you still with your employer?”
Here are some simple and easy to implement pieces of advice.
Keep it to the strict minimum. 3 sentences should cover the whole story in 30 seconds. The more you talk, the more defensive or complaining you sound.
Don’t “trash your ex”. During interviews, nobody likes nay-sayers. All the negative you will say will reflect on you. Yes indeed it ended bad, but you worked there for some time… which means there have been some satisfying elements: these are the ones recruiters want to hear about. What you learnt, your successes, the projects you led/contributed to, the skills you developed…
Explain that the situation changed rather fast and you did not fit in any longer. There are only two solutions to such changes, everybody knows that: either they asked you to leave, or you asked for an amicable separation. That happens all the time, no big deal…
That should allow you to pass in 75% of the cases. When you face somebody who wants to dig further, oblige them but, still, answer their question strictly and do not over-elaborate. Stay factual and rational.
Have your short answer ready; don’t initiate the discussion. Be positive. Focus on the future rather than the past.