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How should I explain getting laid off in a job interview?

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Entry-Level Software Engineer [L3] at Google8 months ago

Just another laid-off SWE here. I have an interview coming up at a popular tech company.

How can I explain getting laid off in the interview? I am concerned that there is a stigma in tech that layoffs target low performers, especially since only part of my team got laid off. They never told us the layoff criteria, but I think I got targeted because I was more junior. I don't want to reveal my level for the company I'm applying to.

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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    8 months ago

    Especially in recent months, the stigma around low performers being laid off is almost entirely removed. Countless companies have done mass layoffs in the past 1.5 years, so people won't assume it's performance-related.

    In general, people worry too much about explaining how they'll explain a layoff.

    • It often won't even come up in the interview, which is totally fine. Don't feel the need to volunteer info about layoffs that you don't want to volunteer.
    • If it does come up in interviews, you can either say (1) you were part of a big layoff (esp if you worked at Amazon, which had widely publicized layoffs of tens of thousands of workers, or (2) just mention that the company "wasn't a great fit, and I'm excited by many of the other opportunities"

    Keep the conversation more focused on where you're headed rather than what you're leaving behind.

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    8 months ago

    5 years ago, equating laid off = low performance may have been true, but it certainly isn't the case now. Layoffs are truly random now - Low performers, high performers, L3s, L9s, and everyone in between have been hit.

    If they really want to know why you parted ways with your previous position, I think you can just tell them. But I think many employers won't even ask: If a career stint suddenly came to an end in this current age, it's not hard to put 2 and 2 together. We talk more about this here: "How open should we be to recruiters about employment status?"

    I also highly recommend this awesome video: How To Recover After You've Been Laid Off In The Tech Industry

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