Job interview tips: How to Explain Work Gaps
Published on January 22, 2021
Job interview tips: Removing the stigma from work gaps
Do companies prefer candidates who do not have work gaps in their employment history?
Pre-pandemic, we could say that there are employers who would prefer people who do not have long stretches of unemployment.
While it is admirable for employees to move up the career ladder from one job to the next, work gaps are also understandable. Especially now that we are still in the middle of the pandemic, there are millions of Filipino employees who found themselves unemployed against their will. Some were laid off, some need to take a sabbatical for personal reasons (if not medical). Employers are not averse to the idea of periods of unemployment, but they need to know why you were in that situation.
If you are getting back on your feet after losing your job, or starting to find work again after taking a break for personal reasons, read our job interview tips to learn how to best position your work gap to prospective employers.
Here are five job interview tips if you are getting back from a work gap:
1. Honesty will benefit you
While the truth can hurt sometimes (e.g, you were laid off, the company you used to work for needed to close, you were not equipped to work remotely nor to go to an office amidst the pandemic), this is the only way to go. Sometimes, people can also be in a position wherein they wanted to get out of their work so much that they leave even though they do not have employment prospects yet. Taking a break to look after one´s mental health is valid, too. These are all valid. During your interview, honestly share why you had to take a break from work, and keep it forward-looking. Let your positive side shine! Believe in yourself so that you can answer the interview questions with confidence.
2. Recruiters can understand your situation
They are but human, too. The best thing you can do is to mindfully explain your situation, why you had to take a break for a few months, and how your talents and skills did not rust during this period of unemployment. Prove that you are still a strong candidate for the position you are applying for despite the work gap. After all, It is the role of recruiters to assess each candidate and see how they will fit the role they are applying for. If you have the strong background, they will hear you. Attending to personal matters or not fitting in the work culture at your former job should not hinder you from growing your career.
3. They might have heard your work gap story already
Recruiters interview several candidates on any given day. Your work gap story could also be the story of several hundred job seekers. They are already used to hearing these employment disruptions. Just make sure that you are presenting facts that are valid reasons to be unemployed. This can be because you were laid off, you had to take care of a sick family member, or you needed time for yourself to think (all true stories, by the way).
To add, they usually have a psychology degree under their belt. This means that they can easily see right through you if you are just making things up, including your body language.
4. Do your assignment
Research on the role you are applying for. Go beyond what is available on the job posting. Read about the role, the company, and other information relevant to the position you want. This will give you leverage to put the focus on your qualifications, rather than your reasons for quitting your last job and not finding work right away. Review your work history and highlight how you have the skills and experiences needed for the role you are applying for.
5. Work gaps can also be good
Thanks to our modern day and age, people are very encouraging of self-care. Taking a sabbatical actually gives the impression that you give importance to yourself. It also shows that you have the discipline to save money in preparation for your sabbatical.
Going back to school for higher studies is another positive reason for taking a work gap. During your interview, you can share your student journey, or why you decided to go back to school. Maybe to prepare you for a higher role or possibly shift careers? The possibilities are endless!
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For more helpful job interview tips, career advice, and job application guide as we nagivate our new normal, visit our Career Tips Blog.