Interview 20: Why Was There A Gap in Your Employment?

For the best result, make sure you have read this article and already have a write-up of your answer prior to your Cambly session. You can send a longer text to your tutor through Cambly’s messaging system.

This following content has been modified from LiveCareer. See the original article here.


Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

What the Hiring Manager Is Really Asking…

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 in your resume?”

The hiring manager asks this question to help determine whether you will be a long-term employee. A gap in employment could signal to them that work isn’t your first priority. You will want to explain the reasons why taking time off was beneficial to your professional portfolio,
and how it helped you grow as a person.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Think about what you were doing during your employment gap. What did you learn from it? How might that translate into workplace experience?
  • What experiences did you have that might set you apart from other candidates?
  • Decide with your tutor which areas of your employment gap to highlight, and make sure you feel confident in your answer

Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

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.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Write down the 5 most valuable things you learned while on leave.
  • For each item, explain how this makes you the most qualified candidate for the job
  • Practice your answer until you feel you could explain it confidently. It’s important to believe in the unique skill set that you have gained

Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

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 a factor that the hiring manager could view as a concern, like a mental health issue, or being unable 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 focus too much on the benefits or downfalls of your gap; keep the focus on your work ethic and credentials.

The hiring manager wants assurance that you are prepared for the new job and will remain committed. It’s important that you don’t give him reason to worry.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • What are the reasons that you have decided to come back to work? Review them with your tutor.
  • Consider your plans for the future: do you have plans to take another break in employment? Make sure you have an answer explaining why, in case the question is raised.
  • Think of ways that you have demonstrated committment in the past? How will you demonstrate that in this role?

Guideline

Read the following text with your tutor. 

Sample Answer

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.

Activities

Go over the following points with your tutors. 

  • Write the first draft of your answer with your tutor.
  • Are there any words or phrases that you are not comfortable pronouncing?
  • Now rehearse with your tutor until you are comfortable answering the question without the script.

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