How To Answer, “What have you been doing post redundancy?” in your next job interview



“What have you been doing since redundancy?” is one of many questions job seekers have been faced with as they transition from industries that are struggling to new ones. You’ve said to me that you are not sure of the right way to tackle this question, so I wanted to discuss why we ask it and how to answer it, in more detail.


I know that question feels really loaded - But it isn’t.


Nope, there is no hidden agenda with this question.


It is a great question to get to know you. So I want to take the fear out of - why hirers ask it and also, how you can approach it with confidence.


What employers know:

  • Redundancy wasn’t your fault.

  • Many of the people they will speak to for their advertised position have been in the same situation as you.

  • What you decided to do during this time is a great indicator of your attitude and crisis/problem response process.


What you need to know:

  • HR teams, Managers and Hirers want you to succeed – the days of the good cop bad cop and thankfully gone. The right hirers will champion great candidates and make the experience valuable irrespective of the outcome.

  • If you don’t have a great recruitment experience, perhaps that employer is not the right fit for you.

  • Like me, the hirers are probably interested and inspired by how you have managed this time and what you decided to do.


Some of your stories of pivots, transitions, opening businesses and just getting stuck in to whatever role you could, have lifted and inspired me.


There is also no right or wrong in your answer, how you spent your ‘between career jobs’ time, is up to you. You don’t need to feel ‘on the back foot’ when faced with this question.


You do however, need to remember that what you discuss with the HR team will divulge a lot about you. So… as you have heard me say for the last 20 years, be in charge of the information you present by making decisions now, before you get in front of the hiring team.


Whether you have:

  • Invested in irreplaceable time with family or

  • Thrown yourself into courses and further education or training or

  • Taken a sideways step into a role in a totally different industry or

  • Followed one of your other passion projects be it- learning a musical instrument, volunteering at the local retirement home or recreating your backyard as mini nursery (all of which my clients have shared with me).


They are all valid decisions.


Here comes the Kirsty RULE… ‘Own it!’


There is zero need to justify your decision. Hirers ask this question to get a sense of who you are by the decisions you have made to get to this point. Sitting in front of them… or on screen - in front of them.


They hire the whole person, not just your work skills. That is what makes your decisions during this weird post redundancy time interesting and valuable.


When I am interviewing, I am looking for:

  • Constructive use of time

  • Enhanced personal development

  • Thinking outside the box

  • The ability to make decisions in unusual situations

  • What you have learnt about yourself

  • Additional skills you have picked up

  • Maybe what you did is really unique to you, that makes you memorable


During your job interview all of this helps develop a fully rounded picture of you as a potential colleague. Your job is to pull this content, these examples and these pieces of evidence together pre-interview, so that you can make the most of this expected question.


Many of you have worked with my team and me in the past. You may remember a lot of ‘Kirsty Rules’ one of which was asking you to stick to the most relevant answers and experience for the interview you are in. That usually means, experience, qualifications, achievements and work style. Now those areas still remain the most relevant - and here comes the ‘however’. However… the world of hiring and recruitment has had to pivot with the unusual situation we have all faced during the pandemic. The recruitment and careers arena, by which I mean the ‘Hirers’ have renewed the importance placed on Human Skills. This is one of the positives to come out of this period.


The value of your attitude not just your aptitude, is a more significant hiring factor now and one I welcome. So while your answers still have to be factual and evidential and relevant, part of that includes a higher focus on the ‘Human’.


What better place to find our ‘Human Skills’ than what we have faced during this pandemic.