Interview questions are tough. They can be intimidating, confusing, and hard to interpret. Few are as tricky as being asked about a gap in your employment history. If you understand what is really being asked, you can prepare an especially strong answer that focuses on what they really want to know.
It may seem like you are being attacked when asked about a gap in your employment. Remember that it is a simple question. The interviewer needs to know what the reason behind it is because it might affect your ability to do your job. More than anything else, your answer should be reassuring.
Points to Emphasize
Answering this particular question can feel like navigating a minefield. Follow these tips to stay on track and provide an appropriate and impressive response.
- Be honest. You should have a reasonable response, but you should never make up a reason.
- Be confident. If you are confident that you have a good reason, the interviewer will not worry.
- Downplay any reasons that might seem to actually interfere with your work.
- If possible, apply your reason to the job you are applying for. Spending time building your skill set with non-occupational experience is a great example of this.
You should not worry. Interviewers are likely just trying to make sure you do not have any serious work related issues.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Because this is such a tricky question, there are many more pitfalls you need to avoid. These are some of the most common mistakes.
- Do not exaggerate. Stretching the truth to seem more reasonable is very apparent to hiring managers.
- Do not act like you have something to hide. Embarrassment, likewise, gives the wrong impression. You should not be ashamed of your employment history.
- Do not try to justify yourself. You are answering a simple question, not defending yourself. The interviewer will only think there is something wrong if you act like there is.
- Do not rush to try and get to the next question. Give a thoughtful and complete answer.
A strong answer will look something similar to this. Your answer should obviously be unique to your situation, but this is a more general response.
During that short gap in my employment, I used some of the money that I had saved to take some classes in my field. I was trying to expand my skill set through methods besides working a job. I feel the experience and knowledge I gained was absolutely worth the effort and will help me perform better in this job.