I had a few interviews with a company which were very promising and then I got laid off at my current job which I had for 4 months. I have another set of interviews with the interviewing company this week and now I feel I am in a pickle. Should I tell them I got laid off or should I continue with interviews as if nothing happened? My worry is that if I tell them I got laid off, they might wonder why I was let go after a few months or that I am hiding something, and this can work against me. If I pretend I am still working and things are going fine, why risk it. It feels safer that they know I am employed and that I am making a conscious decision to join them by leaving another company. No harm no foul?
I'd say it's OK to say that you've been laid off during your interviews but only if they ask and if they ask, make sure to say that you are willing to throw your former bosses under the bus - er, provide them as references :) You don't have to volunteer anything - I expect that when you filled out the employment application, you checked "yes" when they asked you "May we contact your present employer?"
They'll call your former employer, find out that you got laid off and that's the end of the story line - nothing to see, folks. If your employer gives only the dates of hiring and termination, then they should ask you for the reason of your termination. At which point, you can say that you got laid off.
You can notify your prospective employer's HR that you were laid off but only after the third interview and before they start the background check- You want to make the point that you were laid off not fired, and that you are providing your former bosses as additional references.
I hope in your cover letter, you indicated why you're looking for a new job after only being with a company for 4 months. That short of a term can be a red-flag. I can't imagine they didn't ask about it during any initial interview.
Now things have changed and you've been laid-off. If you were honest and upfront about why you wanted to leave before, there's no reason this all of a sudden lay-off would be that much of a problem.
One reason not to mention being laid-off (assuming they don't ask again), is it could affect you salary negotiation. Unfortunately, they may feel they can take advantage of your recent unemployment and offer you less. Sometimes companies have to offer more to persuade candidates to leave a current job.
Also, it may be suspicious if you're now able to do interviews during what are considered office hours.
What is to be gained from doing so? They probably won't respond significantly more quickly or consider you a better candidate. They might ask why you were the one who got laid off, or figure that you needed the job more so they could offer you less money. I would avoid lying to them, but I wouldn't volunteer this detail.