An employment gap is that period of time where the job applicant was not on job. The reason for this gap could be anything from adding an educational degree to some time off for any personal cause. These gaps can also happen due to reasons like layoffs, employment termination for cause, downsizing or any other.
An employment gap usually creates a curiosity in the employers mind and hence raises the interview question “How will you explain your employment gap?”
You must have heard that it is a bad idea to lie on your CV, whether it is about employment dates or skills you possess. Most of the job seekers feel it is ok to lie about employment dates as it would save them the interview question about the employment gap.
No, that is not true!
What the Employer Wants to Understand with this Question?
Questions about your employment lets the interviewer understand the chronology of your work history. The best way to prepare for an interview is to study your CV. This would help you understand your skills better.
The two interview questions that the job seekers are majorly looking at through this interview question are:
– Interview question about leaving your job
– Interview question about employment gap
It is better to be prepared to answer the question about both leaving an organization and employment gap.
How to Answer Questions on Leaving an Organization?
To make an impact on the interviewer you will want to use your experience from the past. Using your past experience will let you explain to the employer, how well you can do in this job.
When you face a question about leaving your previous organization, use a reasonable reason to explain why you left. Keep yourself from cursing or bad mouthing your previous employer.
For example, you could use any of the following examples and modify it according to your reasons.
– Use the commuting reason: “Traveling long was making me unproductive and hence I thought it was time to move on.”
– Looking for Advancement: “I was not able to professionally grow in the position as there were others ahead and there was no opportunity or room for growth.”
– Money Matters: “According to the industry and market rate, I was underpaid for my skills and contribution without a scope for revision.”
– Instability of the Organization: I am looking for a stable job and due to the company not being stable, I made this move.”
Bad mouthing about the previous employer brings the interviewer in the state of red flag raising questions like “Does he have a bragging nature? Will he be cribbing about this organization in coming few months?”
Employers consider this as a checkbox question. A checkbox question is a type of question that is necessarily a part of an interview but the interviewer does not want a lot of details until you give them the opportunity to. So basic advice keep your answer short and crisp. More like a one that does not initiate any kind of conversation.
Explaining the Employment Gap
Firstly, when you are asked about employment gaps do not try to hide them. You are not the only one who has faced employment gaps. So do not panic about it. Keep your answer short. Talking too much in your answer signifies that you are hiding something and gives the employer an opportunity to grill you further.
You should always have a logical and acceptable logic behind quitting any job. If you were a part of layoff process, say it. A few months gap is completely acceptable. But, with gaps increasing to a year or more you should be doing something. Even if you do not have a full time job, explain you were busy with some part time, some volunteer jobs or consulting gigs.
Try and finish the question with something that takes the interviewer back to the need of the need of the job, your skills and competencies.
Further to explain the gap you should be:
– Positive and Confident
– State clear reasons of the gap without any discrepancy
– Use sensible reasons to explain your gaps
– Stressing on any freelancing or voluntary you took in your gap period
– Talk about new skills that you have acquired during the gap period
If you are concerned about your employment gap, you can get over it by confidently answer what you have learnt in this period. Employment gap is not a sin and it is completely okay to have one. Be honest about the time spent in your gap. You just need to understand the need to convert the negativity about the gap to something constructive.