When you’re interviewing for a job, the hiring manager may ask you a question like, “Can you explain this gap in your employment history” or “Can you tell me what was happening during these years that aren’t accounted for”
The hiring manager asks this question to help gauge whether you will be a long-term employee. A gap in employment could signal to him that work isn’t your first priority or that you are still establishing your qualifications.
Points to Emphasize
When you answer this question, you’ll want to be honest but also show the hiring manager that he doesn’t have anything to worry about.
- Unless your gap was something personal such as a mental health situation, be honest about what you were doing during that time.
- Emphasize how you used that employment gap to gain experience behind the scenes, through school or volunteering, etc.
- Reiterate how excited you are to continue building your career.
- In order to avoid obvious gaps, think about reformatting your resume to include any small jobs or volunteer work.
Almost everyone has some sort of gap, so answer positively and confidently.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
If you’re not prepared for this question, you may falter in your answer. In order to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls, follow the guidelines below.
- Don’t say that the gap was due to something that the hiring manager could fault you for, like a mental health issue or not being able to find a job.
- Avoid going into unnecessary detail.
- If you’re planning another employment gap in the near future, don’t mention this to the hiring manager unless he directly asks.
- Don’t show undue dissatisfaction with the gap but instead focus on your work ethic.
The hiring manager wants assurance that you are prepared for and will be committed to the job, so it’s important that you don’t give him reason to worry.
Reference the two examples below to get a feel for how to answer:
During those two years, I took a break from working in order to take care of my daughter. Now that she is two-years-old, I’m excited to get back into the workforce. During my time off I grew my professional networks and took online classes to stay current in market trends.
I took intentional time off after my last job in order to evaluate where my true passions lie. During that time I travelled and increased my understanding of the global world. It was in India that I decided I wanted to become a global health advocate.
The hiring manager wants to hire someone who will be dedicated to the job, and this question is one way that he can determine that.