Careers advice

Should I tell an interviewer I was made redundant?

You can even turn redundancy to your advantage in job interviews.

Anyone who’s been through a redundancy knows how tough it can be. But even when the initial shock of losing a job has subsided, many people worry about how being made redundant will impact your future employability.

We’re here to tell you not to worry, and give you some practical tips for navigating redundancy-related questions in job interviews.

Why you shouldn’t worry about redundancy impacting your employability

It’s important to understand what redundancy means in New Zealand. Redundancy happens when an employer believes your position is no longer necessary to the organisation.

While there’s no doubt that this is a painful thing to hear, the crucial implication of this definition is that an employer can’t legally make you redundant because of your performance. The most common reasons are a lack of work for your role, or company restructures due to financial pressure.

So, if redundancy comes up in an interview, the interviewer should already know that your former employer didn’t let you go because they were unhappy with you.

What’s more, with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, the tech revolution and the Covid-19 pandemic, redundancies have become more common. This means both employers and recruiters are used to interviewing candidates who have been made redundant at some point in their careers.

Most recruiters and hiring managers will know that redundancy doesn't reflect performance.

How do you handle redundancy in an interview?

If you have employment gaps on your CV, you should expect an interviewer to ask what they represent. (Note, there’s no need to mention redundancy on your CV, it’s not standard practice to provide details on why you left previous roles.)

However, if an interviewer asks, you should be honest and tell them you were made redundant – so you need to prepare an answer.

At the heart of this, should be showing how you drew positives from this negative experience. In fact, some recruiters say that resilient candidates who can show how they bounced back from tough situations like redundancy can be attractive to recruiters.

For example, if you were unemployed for a while, talk about how you used the time productively through upskilling courses or personal development. This immediately shows you to be someone who can roll with the punches, and come out stronger on the other side.

If you were one of several employees at your former workplace to be made redundant, it’s worth mentioning this too. Doing so can help to hammer home that it was your role that was made redundant, not you.

Finally, it’s important not to get defensive if your redundancy is raised during the interview. The interviewer isn’t trying to trip you, and probably just wants to know there was nothing else going on – for example, that you weren’t fired. Once you’ve cleared everything up, they’ll probably never mention it again.