The pressure to get the answers ‘right’ during a job interview can be overwhelming, especially when you aren’t sure what they’ll ask. You want to make a good impression that shows you’re qualified, knowledgeable, and capable of doing the job. Even if your answers and resume support these points, there could be another hurdle in your way. That hurdle is answering why there’s an employment gap in your career.
Unemployment isn’t uncommon, and many professionals will experience it at one time or another in their career, but it can carry an unflattering stigma. The immediate impression can make you seem unreliable or lacking talent. In most cases, there’s a valid reason, and it’s your job to explain why in a way that doesn’t end your chances of getting the job. Here are three tips to help you explain your employment gap effectively.
1. Prepare in advance
You can’t predict every question the interviewer will ask, but you know they’ll want to learn why there’s a gap in your career at any point. Because of this, you can’t afford to hope they’ll miss it and you can glide right by without answering. They will notice your aversion and form their assumption, which could cost you the opportunity.
The key to getting this right is being prepared. Work out what you want to say and how you want to say it, and then test it on your friends and colleagues. This will help you refine your answer to it explains what happens while still leaving a good impression.
2. Tell the truth
When preparing your answer, avoid the temptation to make a situation seem better than it was. Point blank, if you were fired, admit it. You don’t know what they’ll learn in their candidate research and reference checks, so you don’t want to present conflicting information.
This can be hard, especially if it was due to performance, but you still have to explain the situation. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave it with the bad news. You can talk about the why and then show what you’ve learned in the process.
No matter the reason for your employment gap, keep it honest and end on a positive note.
3. Don’t talk too much about it
Yes, you want to tell the facts and end with an uplifting beat, but you don’t want to keep droning on about your reasons. Always remember less is more. If you keep talking, more information may come out, or you’ll be tempted to badmouth your previous employer, and ultimately, it will leave a bad impression with your interviewer.
When practicing your reason, make sure you remember brevity is almost as important as honesty.
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