People often view a gap in employment as something negative. Taking time off work isn’t necessarily a bad sign; in fact, people travel, pursue higher education, make time for families or simply go for a vacation. Having a break in work has become increasingly common and can even position you as an eligible candidate for your next stint. However, many organizations continue to see it as a drawback.
If you’ve had any gaps in employment, be prepared for related interview questions. Hiring managers are likely to inquire about gaps because they want to check how easily you can jump back into the workforce. Wondering how to explain gaps in employment? Read on!
What To Expect When You Have A Gap In Employment
Getting back to job-hunting can be stressful. While highlighting your employment gap on your resume isn’t necessary, hiring managers can ask you to talk about your professional history. You should anticipate such questions and be prepared to address their concerns. Here are a few questions interviewers use to explore the reasons for employment gap:
What really happened at your last job?
Your answer should reflect that you’ve moved on from your previous job and there isn’t any resentment on your part. If you were let go, briefly explain what happened and turn the focus back on the interview.
Did you get along with your coworkers?
The interviewer is trying to gauge whether your interpersonal relationships and teamwork capabilities were instrumental in your employment gap. The best way to tackle this question is to highlight your rapport-building skills during the hiring process and make the employer feel at ease.
Will your references tell a different story?
If there is a gap in employment, hiring managers are likely to prioritize the reference checking process. Always be prepared with your references and avoid scrambling at the last minute. Try to include references from your most recent job. Request your references to highlight your skills and other aspects that’ll help your candidacy.
How To Explain Gaps In Employment In Interview
If you don’t explain the reasons for employment gap, employers will assume the worst. Instead of deflecting the question, present your answers in a smart way. Here are several strategies that’ll help you talk about any gap in employment.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
You can be honest about your gap in employment without getting into excessive details. Provide a brief snapshot by talking about the reason and the time period. Here are some standard answers you can use to tailor your response, depending on the situation.
If you were fired
“I had different expectations from my role. Reflecting on my experience, I realize that I could do things differently. Nonetheless, I gained a lot of hands-on experience and I’m ready to bring that maturity to my next role.”
You left to be a caregiver
“I spent time off as a primary caregiver in my family. While I was able to be there for my family, I always knew that I’d want to return to work. I’m ready to do that now.”
There were personal reasons
“I wanted to focus on myself for a while and work on my personal growth, which is why I took some time off. It helped me find a new sense of direction and I’m ready to take on new challenges and explore new opportunities.”
Fill The Gap
Instead of explaining the reason behind your employment gap, use the opportunity to give specifics about how you utilized the time. Talk about anything you did to prepare for re-entry into the job market. It could be any freelance work, volunteer positions or online classes you’ve taken—anything that adds to your professional skills.
Don’t Force Yourself
Once you’ve addressed the reasons for employment gap, feel free to steer the conversation to other aspects of the interview. It can be about your professional experience, abilities or expectations. If at any point you don’t feel comfortable answering the question, politely excuse yourself by saying, “I’m not comfortable with where this conversation is going”.
Harappa’s Ace The Interview course will help you balance authenticity and wit in your conversations with the interviewer. The key to a successful interview is preparation and practice and this course will guide you to overcome hiccups and face interviews confidently. Learn to develop engaging responses and understand how to build answers on the spot. Overcome nervousness and tackle frequently asked questions smartly. Get ready to ace your next interview!
Explore topics such as General HR Interview Questions, How To Improve Interviewing Skills, How to Answer “Tell Me About a Time When Your Failed” & How to Prepare for Campus Interview from Harappa Diaries to crack your next interview.
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