Why Have You Been Out Of Work So Long?

When a hiring manager inquires about gaps in your employment history, it can be easy to become nervous and wonder if they have already made up their mind. However, being out of work for a significant amount of time is more common than you might think, and the employers are simply seeking further information to help them get to know you. When an interviewer asks this question, they are really asking if you have the motivation and dedication necessary to be a diligent employee.

Points to Emphasize

When responding to this question, you should attempt to remain positive while being honest with your answer. Having a strong answer prepared will help you to present yourself in a professional manner.

  • Focus on sharing anything positive that you have done during this period of time. For example, talk about taking some time to volunteer or further your education.

  • Be honest, but present honest answers in a positive light. If you suffered a loss or were unable to work due to mental stress or recovery, talk about reevaluating your career aspirations and preparing yourself to enter the workplace with more to contribute.

  • If you were laid off, talk about how the company as a whole was affected.

  • If you were fired, talk openly about weaknesses that led to the event and relate what you have learned from the experience and how you have worked to improve.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

  • Do not go into the interview without a response prepared. It will be difficult to formulate an adequate response on the spot.

  • Do not say that you have been looking for a job, even if this is true. It will send up a red flag to employers and they will wonder why you haven’t been hired yet.

  • If you were fired or laid off, do not launch into a sob story about the experience. Feel free to explain the situation if you feel that you were wronged, but avoid becoming emotional and griping about the other company.

  • Do not lament the job market situation. This makes you appear weak and suggests that you are playing the victim.

    Sample Answers

    Here are a couple examples of a well-prepared response to this question:

    I have taken some time to further my education and improve my skills in order to contribute more fully to the company I will work for.

    I have spent some time volunteering and making contributions to local organizations in order to support my community. I feel that I have gained valuable skills from this experience that will help me further the interests of the company.

    Don’t forget to stay positive and answer this question with confidence.

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