Expect the Question
If there are gaps in your employment history, the interviewer is going to ask why. It helps to be prepared so you can offer a professional, honest answer no matter what the reason for the gap.
In our article on interview tips, we suggest practicing common interview questions before you go. If you have gaps in your resume, it’s going to come up. Here’s how to handle all the tough questions you might face:
- Be honest. If you feel like the reason for your unemployment doesn’t show you in the best light, you might be tempted to misrepresent the facts. Employers are looking for people with honesty and integrity. It’s better to hear what happened from you than through a background or reference check.
- Focus on the positive. Don’t criticize your old boss or complain about how hard it was to care for your sick family member. Instead state what you learned from the experience and how it relates to the position you’re applying for.
- Keep it brief. Explain the gap, then move on.
Gaps for Personal Reasons
Sometimes you had to take time to care for your family members or for yourself.
Do create a brief statement that tells what happened. Sometimes it helps to put it on paper.
Do identify one way the experience makes you more prepared for the job. For example, if you spent several months caring for your aging family member, explain how it helped you develop soft skills like a positive attitude and problem solving.
Do emphasize how you’re ready to return to work. State how your values and work ethic align with those of the organization.
Don’t talk for more than a few sentences about the situation. The interviewer wants to know the reason for the gap, but they don’t need to know all the details.
If You Were Fired
Even if you feel embarrassed by the reason you were fired, be honest, positive and brief.
Do honestly answer why you were fired. They’re most likely going to check with your previous boss. A simple, straightforward answer is best.
Do tell what you learned from the experience. For example, if you lost your job for repeatedly being late, explain how since then you’ve developed better time management skills.
Don’t trash your former boss or co-workers. Keep the focus on how your experience makes you suited for the new position.
If You Took Time for Education or Travel
These are the easiest gaps to explain. If you went back to school, let your interviewer know what degrees or certifications you gained from that education. If you traveled, explain how it taught you how to interact with a diverse range of people or to appreciate other cultures. Then let them know how you’re now ready to focus on your career.
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Content by Missy for Brelsford Personnel