When asked why you have gaps in your job history, a prospective employer understands there are many reasons for an employment gap.
Obviously, some reasons are better than others, but most can be explained in a positive light.
For instance, you might be a diligent worker seeking job opportunities, yet cannot seem to get your foot in the door.
This compounds your frustration as that gap in your work history begins to expand into what looks like a chasm to you.
Gaps in employment can happen to almost anyone, so don’t lose all hope!
Following the suggestions below should help you construct a positive response to this possible interview question.
Reasons behind the question
Your prospective employer wants to know that you have valid reasons for that employment gap on your resume.
An employer might assume you chose not to work if you do not explain otherwise.
Their concerns likely include the following:
- They want to know you don't have problems with commitment to work.
- They might wonder if personal issues led to sudden job termination
- An unspoken question might be whether you lacked the motivation to look for a job.
- A potential employer will also want assurance that you generally have positive work relations with colleagues and supervisors.
- They might also be concerned that your skills or experience have grown out of date in the interim period between jobs.
Understanding these underlying concerns can help you effectively address them and put the employer's mind at ease.
Tips for answering the question
First of all, there is no single "right answer" to this interview question.
Because everyone's experiences in this area will be unique.
You likely have very good reasons for your job gap(s), yet here are a few important things to keep in mind while constructing your answer.
1. Be honest
Obviously, lying during the interview process can bring negative repercussions.
- Do not make up positions you have held to close gaps in employment.
- Don't invent a story about a family tragedy if such a thing never happened.
You can, however, mention that you took advantage of your employment gap by taking courses or relevant training to improve your experience and keep your skills fresh.
(For further help with possible interview questions see our article 50 Top Job Interview Questions And Answers.)
2. Be relatable
The most important segment of your response is relating skills you have learned to the job description.
There are other ways to accomplish this than only through your past positions.
While answering this interview question, specifically mention relevant experience you gained during your employment gap.
We suggest making a list of all your activities including volunteer work, training, and even hobbies.
If you are applying for an industry you are qualified for, the skills you mention should align with the experience needed.
3. Tailor your response to the current position
If you took time off to start a business or work on a solitary project, make mention of how it relates to the position you are applying to.
Regardless of the reason behind your job gap, find a way to bring the focus back to how you would be a great fit for the job.
- Craft your wording so that you come across as selective and discerning
- Don't make it seem as though you have been applying for every position out there.
Express that you are seeking the right job for the long-term and have been willing to wait for the ideal position.
4. Remember that life happens
A job gap is a gap whether you spent time in prison or finding yourself during a six-month backpacking trip around the country.
What you choose to do with your life is completely up to you, of course.
Yet you may have to deal with repercussions of your decisions.
Whatever the reason for your gap is, focus on the positive aspects.
Try and spin it into a growing point as a person.
This may turn into a pretty personal question, depending on your circumstances, but you should be able to discuss it at least briefly.
One goal of this question is to see if you understand the concerns of a job gap.
As long as you can express that you do understand these concerns and that you made the most of the time, you will be able to effectively answer this question.
Best approaches to answering this question
As mentioned previously, there is no "one-size-fits-all" response when asked, "Why do you have gaps in your job history?"
Here are some effective approaches while putting together an answer:
- Focus on constructive steps you took during your job gap, specifically if you can relate them directly to the position.
- Convey education or skills you gained during your gap in employment, such as training, courses, or completing your degree.
- Mention any time you spent in volunteer work or community service.
- If you took a break from your career due to personal family matters, such as caring for an aging parent or a special-needs child, mention this.
- If you were let go, and this was not due to any negative actions on your part, you can mention the circumstances surrounding the job termination.
- There is the possibility that you lost a job due to your own actions; if this is the case, focus your response on the fact that those reasons will no longer affect your current performance.
We understand that the job search can be frustrating.
But it only takes one recruiter to see potential in you.
The truth is, the time that you spend during a job gap can bring some of the most enlightening and educational experiences of your life.
Even if these experiences are difficult to quantify, you can have the confidence that you have grown and learned much.
Let this confidence bridge the gap between employments.
Keep your head up and have thorough responses prepared and you will find a position that fits!
Contact us and find out how we can help you land your dream job.