How to explain Gap in Employment in Interview? - Sure Success


As you enter the halls for the interview of your dream company, you feel the rush of finally getting the opportunity to reach this far. You have prepared yourself well for the interview and are ready to sell your skills to the interviewees. But, as the interviewer picks up your CV and reads through the dates, they stumble on a gap, a year-long gap between your career that has been left out from the CV. At this point, your mind would wander, How to explain a gap in employment in an interview?

We have written a similar article for engineers here.

If this case resembles yours, you must not let it be too late. Sitting in front of an interviewer unprepared sends an incorrect message to the company and speaks ill of your interest in securing the job. How to explain a gap in employment in an Interview are one of the standard questions companies ask their potential candidates to understand the nature of the candidate.

gap in employment
January 3, 2022
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Table of Contents

Why do people take the employment gap – Reasons

Try forming this picture in your head. You are at a party. The host is your friend who makes you meet Anand. You begin talking, and Anand reveals that he had recently quit his role as the marketing head for a major company to spend more time with his family and friends. While you would flip out at him and question why he made such a major shift in his life, deep down, you would get a sensation of the freedom he will be experiencing. Deep down, you hoped you had the guts to take a step like this.

In recent times, the idea of taking a career break is getting more and more traction. As both companies and employers are beginning to accept the idea, organisations have tried to simplify the process for those who wish to exercise it.

  1. Some would choose to take a career break to spend time with their family
  2. Some would choose to take a break for a long, soul searching trip
  3. Others would take the career break for experimenting with a passion/hobby
  4. While the few would take a career break due to personal tragedies

Another one of the major reasons How to explain a gap in employment in Interview for people is to manage their personal and mental health. We often see reports of people taking drastic steps because of the overburdening of work. This should never be the case. Work should give you the joys of life. However, if one feels trapped and unable to disconnect from his work life, they take a trip to a remote location or around the world to balance their thoughts and minds.

NOTE: While there is no answer to the question, How to explain a gap in employment in an Interview, on average, the majority of the people take a career break that stretches from 3-6 months to 1 and a couple of years.

What do employers look for in a career break?

While the employment gap reasons might differ from person to person, your next employer will keep the activities you did during your career gap. The interviewees for your next job are solely interested in what you did on your time off and how those skills can add and benefit your new role within their company.

Employers are trying to seek out information that identifies your traits. A break in life is a big step. Taking the stage and what path you took once you took the stage speaks a lot about your character. For example, a person who took a career break from one of the biggest firms to roam around the world, mingled with locals, experienced the world’s diversity and learnt new skills, came back to the market and landed a job for his improved sense of inclusivity. This compared to the individual who only used the break to “take a break”. Both of these examples are poles apart. Whereas one shows signs of being adventurous and a go-getter, the second individual seems lazy and unclear of the ambitions in his life.

All in all, employers question the activities you undertook during your career break, the purpose of these activities, and, more importantly, how these activities will benefit your future employment at the company.

How to explain the gap in employment in the Interview and your CV

Now that you have finished your career break have walked the rough terrains of mountains for some soul searching, you get back home to re-enter your work life as a new person. However, as you begin to refresh your CV, you hit an issue – the career gap is now a documented part of your life.

Though a break in your career should not become a bad mark on your CV, it is natural for interviewees to ask questions about the gap. The task of steering the conversation so that the gap looks productive and necessary falls onto you, the candidate. An important trick to remember in these interviews is that the interviewee does not know much about you. Thus, you hold the cards. You decide how much information needs to be given and how much information can be held back.

Thus, it is important to prepare your How to explain a gap in employment in Interview reasons well in advance so that you do not seem burdened during the interview. The first step is to clear the gap from the CV, or in other terms, blend it with the different work experiences. In order cleverly hide your career gap, you can do the following:

Remove the months

Usually, when people add their work experience, they tend to be very specific about the dates of employment. Though these are important points of information, when you are trying to hide a career gap, it is smarter to remove the months and let the years remain a testament to time spent at a job.

Make it skill based

employment gap interview

People mostly design and list out their work experience from recent to past. This way provides a coherent structure of your journey in work-life. However, when trying to blend in the gap, it is better to jumble up the dates so that instead of focusing on the missing trail, the interviewer is instead taken along a journey of your skill-based works.

Highlight the activities of the break

empl0yment gap reasons

The final option is for the people who covered important events and activities during their career gap. This can be in the form of volunteer work, freelance, etc. These can even be activities that you did to keep yourself busy.

How to explain a gap in employment in an interview

After your clever attempts at hiding your career gap within your CV fail, you must always be prepared for the alternate possibility- the interview asking you questions about the career break. The best trick for this is to be truthful because honesty is the best policy for this.

However, again here, you need to control your honesty. If one of your employment gap reasons was that you were fed up with work and just wanted a break from it all, you need to frame it in a way that does not display you as a candidate that can survive and work under pressure.

The alternative goes for gaps in a career that resulted in a trip worldwide. Instead of keeping it short and straightforward, details about your expeditions and the teachings you learnt during the trip. Linking these learnings to the market and business world fetch you extra brownie points.

A career gap that lasts a few months can easily be overlooked. These gaps can be caused due to a variety of reasons beyond your control, like administrative changes, strikes, mergers, acquisitions or even global pandemics. All of these can be pinned onto the changing environment around you and gets you a free pass at the career gap.

Gaps that last for a year or more are the ones that need further substantiation. These career breaks are most commonly attributed to individuals who are between jobs. For them, a sample answer for your career gap could be:

In my opinion, I had never expected this period to last this long. The last time I quit my job, I had decided I would be better equipped with pertinent skills for my field of work. Spending the first six months of my break working on ______________ (skill) after which I began to look for jobs. However, I remain strong-willed and certain about my chances as the break has helped me identify my weak spots and has offered me enough time to act and rectify them.

As I mentioned above, honesty is the best policy for other employment gap reasons. Talking about your experience and learnings can send a very positive and trustworthy message to your future employers. However, always keep in mind that your experiences should match your profession. In other words, you should be applying your newfound teachings in the field you wish to enter. With this, employers can see a positive light on your career breaks by showing you reaching out and doing extra work for you and your career’s benefit.

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Final Thoughts

All in all, as you can see, taking a career gap is slowly becoming more common than ever. As more and more individuals seek an alternative lifestyle, many are looking at career breaks to find themselves, spend time with their families, or sit out for some time.

Thus, a career break should not be looked at as unemployment. Instead, people should be spending this abundance of time to expand on a set of skills or learn a new hobby. This way, you will be sure to give the question How to explain a gap in employment in Interview, answers that are honest and full of insights and learnings and ones that will show your future employers your desire to learn new skills for the benefit of your career’s performance.

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