Unemployment Benefits Interview

An unemployment phone interview may be conducted after you apply for unemployment insurance, but it is not always necessary. Unemployment agencies schedule interviews for a variety of reasons.

Most of the time, an interview will be used to verify the details about your unemployment, such as the dates of your employment ending or the circumstances surrounding your job loss.

An unemployment interview may seem intimidating, but it is often an essential part of the process to apply for benefits. It is important to keep in mind that both you and your employer will be expected to participate in the fact-finding process in order to help the unemployment agency make the correct decision. As a claimant, failing to complete the interview may result in a delay or denial of your benefits. On the other hand, if your employer does not initially participate in the process, its account may be charged if it chooses to appeal the unemployment agency’s decision to award benefits to you. Therefore, the fact-finding interview is equally important for both you and your employer. Below, learn about the questions asked during unemployment interview sessions and find out what the process entails.

When is an unemployment benefit interview required?

The policies for unemployment interviews are different in every state, as each unemployment agency has its own rules and regulations. In general, interviews are held whenever the agency wants to resolve any issues relating to your eligibility for benefits. At the same time, an employer may initiate the interview process by protesting your claim for unemployment insurance.

If there are no questions as to your eligibility, you may not need to undergo an interview. However, interviews are common enough that you may wish to prepare for one even if you do not need to undergo the process. Failing to complete your interview or answer the questions satisfactorily may result in your benefits being denied even if you believe you qualify based on the circumstances of your job loss.

Related Article: Preparing for a Job Interview and Discussing Your Layoff

When required, an unemployment fact-finding interview will usually be scheduled in advance so that you have time to prepare. For example, if you are in California, the Economic Development Department (EDD) will notify you and your employer of your interview obligations through the mail. An EDD phone interview determination will then be made after the interview is complete.

How are unemployment interviews conducted?

When required, an unemployment interview will almost always be conducted over the phone. However, some states will send a questionnaire through the mail that you must return by a certain deadline. Agencies may also request that you appear at the office for an in-person interview in some cases. At any rate, you should always follow the instructions provided by your state employment agency if you are required to attend an interview. Do not assume that you need to provide an additional explanation of your situation unless requested. You cannot help your chances of getting benefits by offering an unsolicited explanation to the state unemployment office, as not all staff members are qualified to make determinations in the first place. Overall, unemployment phone interviews will happen on the agency’s terms and you will not have to answer additional questions unless you are prompted to do so.

Questions Asked During an Unemployment Interview

The unemployment phone interview questions will be different depending on the circumstances of your job loss. For example, the unemployment agency will need to verify different information based on whether you were fired, lost your job due to a contract ending, were laid off or quit voluntarily. Questions you may be asked include the following:

  • Did you or your employer move first to sever the working relationship?
  • Why do you believe you were discharged from your job?
  • If you quit your job for health-related reasons, was the decision based on a physician’s advice?
  • Are you on a mandatory leave of absence?
  • Did you face discriminatory actions at work?
  • Were your wages or hours reduced or cut?

Note that the questions listed above are by no means all-inclusive. Most state unemployment offices publish a guide that provides specific information about filing for benefits. It is in your best interest to research the questions asked during unemployment interview sessions in your own state before being questioned. Overall, the questions will provide you and your employer a chance to explain both sides of the issue.

How to Prepare for Unemployment Interviews

Getting ready for an unemployment phone interview is important because the outcome can determine whether or not you qualify for benefits. The unemployment office in your state will usually provide interview instructions when sending you a notification of your obligations. You may even receive a list of questions ahead of time that you should prepare answers for. Most of the time, your unemployment interview will be scheduled for you. In these cases, it is important that you are available at the scheduled time.

Completing the unemployment interview, when required, it a crucial part of obtaining benefits. If you are unavailable for some reason, it is important that you get in touch with the unemployment agency immediately. Contact information should be provided on your interview notice. If neither you nor your employer responds to the interview request, note that the unemployment agency will simply make a determination based solely on the facts at hand.

When will I receive an unemployment interview determination?

After an unemployment interview is complete, you will have to wait for the unemployment office to make a determination. The processing times can vary from one state to the next, so it is necessary to contact your unemployment agency to learn exactly when you can expect to receive a response. It is common for determinations to be made within a week, but the decision may take longer if the agency has to confirm information from your claim with a third party.

If you disagree with the unemployment interview determination, you can complete the process to file an appeal with your state’s unemployment office. An appeal will usually need to be filed within a short time period (oftentimes 10 days or less) in order to be considered.

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