Career Advice

Explaining An Employment Gap During The Interview

Job Anticipation 27 Nov, 2018

Many people have gaps in their employment history, extended periods of time when they were out of work. Perhaps it was due to taking a break for parenting duties, a personal illness or providing care for a loved one, or because they were laid off during a time of stagnant hiring in their industry.

Whatever the reason, these noticeable gaps in a CV cause job seekers significant duress when it comes time to start interviewing for a new position. They worry that these periods of unemployment will be viewed in a negative light by an interviewer.

But it should be remembered that this is a common occurrence, and if it is handled correctly during the interview it shouldn’t keep you from being hired.

Be honest.

It’s not a good idea to falsify employment dates on a CV, and you should be straightforward about your period of unemployment with the interviewer. Don’t spend too much time on the subject, just explain clearly and concisely why you weren't working, even if it was simply to take time off to rest.

Show downtime productivity.

If possible, emphasize productive things that you did during your time off, for example taking classes and learning new skills, volunteering for an organization, or freelancing for private clients.

Be positive.

Keep your interview conversation on an upbeat note, and especially avoid saying negative things about previous employers. Instead talk about why you are a good fit for the position you’re applying for, your specific strengths, and the things you accomplished at your previous jobs.

Stay focused on the future.

Don’t let the conversation dwell too much on the past or allow an interviewer to try to extract more information that you’re comfortable with giving. If they persist, don’t hesitate to politely end the interview and move on.

Questions about an employment gap are very unlikely to get to the point that you become uncomfortable, as an interviewer will usually be more interested in staying on the current topic, the position to be filled. Be frank and honest and you should have no reason to worry.