How to Explain the Employment Gap in Interview?
Many individuals have some sort of employment gap in their respective professional careers due to various personal or professional reasons. In fact, in today’s times, we’re seeing many college students who take some time after their graduation or post-graduation in entering the workforce.
And you need to know – if you’re mentioning such gaps in your resume then there are almost 100% chances that you’ll be asked the questions related to it in the interview. But the point is, instead of hiding these details in your resume or getting uncomfortable in front of the interviewer when the discussion of your employment gap starts, you should prepare yourself beforehand to tackle this question confidently.
If you’ve taken some time away from your career to go for further education, to spend some time with your family, to work on your ideas, or any other reason – then there’s nothing wrong with it.
All you will require is a proper explanation to demonstrate your employment gap reason to the interviewer!!
There should be a strategical approach for mentioning the employment gap details in your resume and to prepare a worthwhile answer for the employment gap-related question in the interview. Though we’ll cover the tips and strategies to address the employment gap in your resume or cover letter another day – here, in this article, we’ll get to know how to explain the employment gap in the interview. So, let’s get started:
1. Be Self-Aware With the Reason for Having an Employment Gap
First and foremost, you need to become self-aware of the actual reasons for having an employment gap or gaps in your career. Many times, it has been observed that candidates often mention the gap in their resume while applying for a job opportunity but when they’re asked a related question by the interviewer on the interviewer day, they appear blank or confused. It creates a quite negative impact on the interviewer and then the rest of the interview usually doesn’t head in the positive direction.
Some of the most common personal & professional reasons for the employment gap are listed below:
- Medical or health issues
- Further education
- Working on an individual project or business idea
- Family Reasons
- Learning new skills to upgrade or switch careers and many more.
2. Prepare a Valid Explanation Beforehand to Address the Gap
Okay, once you’ll find out the actual and valid reason behind the employment gap – now you need to prepare a convincing explanation for the reason to describe it to the interviewer. You need to structure your answer appropriately to explain it to the interviewer – and yes, don’t confuse the ‘explanation’ with ‘justification’ as you don’t need to justify to the recruiter that why you’re right or why you’re not wrong with your decision. You simply need to explain the reason that made you took the decision of having an employment gap. In your answer, you need to – stand by your decisions, confidently explain why you were unemployed during that time, how you used your time, showcase your current skillset and interest in that particular job opportunity, etc. in a brief and engaging manner.
Before moving further, let us tell you that both the above-mentioned approaches are actually needed to be followed before the INTERVIEW DAY! Now, let’s get to know what exactly you need to do and what approaches you need to follow to explain the employment gap perfectly on the interview day:
1. Show Confidence and Don’t Be Defensive
If you’ll start your answer in an apologetic and defensive tone – chances are more the interviewer will also feel a little unsure and uncomfortable. Hence, you need to show confidence in the decision you’ve made. Also, you need to understand that there is nothing wrong with having employment gaps, and neither there is nothing to worry about if your interviewer wants to discuss it in the interview. Whether you took time off for further education, family reasons, career switch, etc. – be honest in telling it to the interviewer. Most probably, you won’t lose out on the job opportunity if you appropriately explain the situation – however, if you will try to be too defensive or cover up the things then it may surely have a negative impact.
2. Share the Reasons But Don’t Overshare
As of now, you’d have understood that you can mention the reason for the employment gap in the interview by being open and honest – but what you need to remember is not to get into unnecessary and personal details. Yes, there is a fine line between sharing and oversharing – don’t forget that. The interview may neither have time to hear every single detail of your employment gap period, nor it makes any sense and relevance.
For example, if you had to take some time away from your career due to illness or health issues, there is obviously no need to elaborate the illness or injury details to the interviewers (until and unless if they ask themselves from the front). Similarly, in case of further education reason, you simply can tell about the qualification you went for and why did you opt for it instead of mentioning program details, or other unwanted information.
3. Emphasize More on the Positives of Employment Gap
One of the major mistakes that individuals often do while explaining the reasons for the employment gap in the interview – they emphasize more on the negative aspects like they blame the situations, badmouth their previous organization, demonstrate how much frustrated they’re during that period, etc. It is indeed not a recommended practice. Instead, what you’re required to do is focus on the positive aspects such as highlight new skills that you’ve learned, describe how productively you used that time, etc. You need to tell about the certifications, training programs, freelance projects, seminars, etc. that you attended or completed during that period. And even if you’ve not learned any new tech skill during the employment gap period – you still can opt to mention soft skills or the positive real-life experiences that you got. In short, you need to show the interviewer that despite the employment gap, you never stopped with the ‘Learn and Grow’ practice.
4. Demonstrate Why It’s The Right Time to Re-Enter the Workforce
This can be considered as the extension of the previous approach or strategy. Yes, when you’re talking about the positives that you’ve got during the employment gap period, you can also opt to mention why it is the right time for you to re-enter the workforce. In more simple words, you need to explain that you’ve completed or fulfilled the task for which you took the time off. For example, if you’ve taken a break to upskill yourself – you can tell the interviewer that now you’ve learned the targeted skills, and now it’s time to implement all those learning and skills on the real ground. Similarly, if the reason was any medical issue, you can mention that now you’re absolutely fine and are ready to continue with your professional journey with more enthusiasm and excitement.
The motive behind doing this is to make the interviewer believe that now you’re completely ready to work and won’t consider leaving the organization for another break or gap in the near future.
5. Showcase Your Interest in the Job Opportunity and Position
Lastly, what you need to do is showcase your genuine interest in the job opportunity and job role. Most of the time what happens – when an individual appears for an interview after a considerable employment gap he seems too desperate for a job and ready to accept any job proposal without thinking much about the job role, work conditions, company culture, etc. at that time. However, it often makes a negative impact on the interviewer. When you’re discussing the employment gap reason with the interview, you need to switch the discussion gradually in such a way so that you can tell him/her about your genuine interest in the particular job opportunity or job role and that you’re not here just for the sake of getting any job. It will also help you to showcase your confidence in your decision, abilities, and skills to the interviewer.
So, this is the way you can tackle the employment gap-related question in the interview confidently. And again, do remember that having an employment gap is not a big deal if you have a valid and genuine reason behind it!!