From time to time, a person may find themselves out of work, leaving gaps in their employment. Explaining these employment gaps in a job interview is inevitable. So how do you address these questions?
Tips for Explaining Employment Gaps
For some people, they may find themselves between successes for any number of reasons. For example, you may have needed to take time for medical reasons or to care for a family member. In other cases, you may have been downsized due to company restructuring. Regardless of the reason, there are a two key things to keep in mind when answering questions about employment gaps:
- Understand the purpose of the question and answer the question. The first step in answering any interview question is to understand its purpose. For the most part, an employer is assessing candidates to determine if they can do the job and if they would be a good fit. Addressing employment gaps is a way for an employer to assess a candidate’s ability to do the job. Their concern is that with gaps in employment a candidate’s skills are not as current or relevant as other candidates. As such, it is not necessary to go into great detail about the “why” behind leaving your previous employer. Instead, focus on what you have been doing during this time to keep your skills relevant and current. Perhaps you have taken a course or have volunteer experience. Highlight your activities as it relates to the job for which you are interviewing.
- Be truthful, but don’t over share. It is important to be truthful about why you left your previous employer. That said, it is not necessary to go into great detail on this. As an example, if you left your previous employer due to medical reasons, you can simply state that. You do not have to go into detail about your medical history. Again, the key here is to demonstrate your commitment to your craft by keeping your skills as relevant as possible during this time.
Even if your employment gaps occurred many years ago, the interviewer may still ask about it. Although you should be truthful, it is not necessary to go into detail about why you left your previous employer. They focus should be on how you demonstrate passion for your job field through volunteer work or education. After all, the employer wants to see your commitment to your craft, not your commitment to daytime TV.
I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any additional insights, or would like to share your experience, I’d love to hear from you.
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Until next time, happy hunting!