How to answer tough interview questions — — “Are you still working?”

Succeeding in your job search depends on how you prepare smart answers to tough interview questions.

The question, “Are you still working?” can be asked in a couple of other ways: “Why was your job eliminated? And, “Why are you leaving your job?”

Think of your response to the why are you looking for work question as your cover story or alibi. It’s a plausible reason why your job was eliminated. Why do you need an alibi? Hiring managers, like police officers, are suspicious people. When sixty employees in your department have been let go with the exception of one colleague who stayed, hiring managers will want to know why you weren’t the person who was kept on.

Here’s a great way to deliver your cover story during a job search

“No, I’m not working now. Due to the ongoing restructuring at the Acme Company my job, along with all the jobs in my department, were offshored to India. However, the Company gave me an excellent package in recognition of my contributions to the department. And I’m now looking forward to taking the next step in my career.”

You’ll need to custom tailor a cover story to suit your situation. Notice the example I just gave can be broken down into two easy steps. Adopt this format to your experience:

First, explain why your job was eliminated. Was it offshored? If your answer is “yes,” explain where. Were all the jobs in your department transferred to another state? Then state what happened.

But if you were the only person to have been let go in your department of five employees, you don’t want to open yourself to the interviewer’s retort, “Why were you the person to have been let go?” You might have too much explaining to do.

In that case, tell the interviewer you were one of hundreds or thousands of employees to have been let go in your company in recent downsizings. Then explain you were given a generous severance package in recognition of your contributions to the company. This statement informs prospective employers that your company valued your services enough to have given you a severance package and that you were not fired for performance in which case you would have received no going away money at all.

Second, tell your prospect why you’re happy to be interviewing for the job at hand. That’s best done by stating why you want to work there. This response is based on research about the company that you performed before the interview.

Your alibi—or cover story—to questions about why you’re no longer working lets interviewers know the loss of a job was not your fault.

How to give persuasive answers like this to ALL tough interview questions

You’ll be coached in 60-second segments on how to answer the tough interview questions, along with strategic questions you should ask at interviewers, in my book Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach. Click here for more information and to order.

Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.