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