Responding to a question regarding employment gaps can be nerve-wracking for job candidates. Nonetheless, it’s a discussion you should be prepared for if there were extensive periods when you were unemployed. Here’s how to tackle this discussion during an interview.
Be Upfront About the Situation
Honesty is always the best policy. Dodging the question or fibbing is likely to yield unsavory consequences. Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook offers a nice piece of advice. “Don’t hide it; explain it. During the entire process of conducting a job search, maintain your integrity and demonstrate it. Jobs come and go, but being known for being truthful – and conversely deceitful – can last a lifetime.”
Even if the reason isn’t ideal, the interviewer should appreciate your honesty. In turn, this increases the likelihood you get started out on the right foot.
Addressing Why You Left
You can bet that an interviewer will want to know the reason you left previous jobs. If it was voluntary, provide them with your reasoning and offer insight into your state of mind at the time. Job-Hunt.org explains an acronym you can use to guide your answer. It’s LAMPS, which is short for:
L – Location: The commute was unreasonably long.
A – Advancement: You weren’t able to grow professionally in that position, either because there were others ahead of you or there was no opportunity for growth.
M – Money: You were underpaid for your skills and contribution.
P – Pride or prestige: You wanted to be with a better company.
S – Security: The company was not stable.
If you offer one of these factors as a reason for your departure, it should be acceptable to the interviewer. Try to tie your motive for leaving into one of these reasons to proceed without tarnishing your reputation.
Highlight Positive Activities You Engaged in Between Jobs
Even if the reason for an employment gap isn’t ideal, you can improve your chances of getting hired by mentioning any enriching activities you participated in during that time. Here are some examples:
- Volunteer work
- Long-term travel
- Certifications you obtained
- Self-education you engaged in (e.g., online study and research)
This will let the interviewer know you weren’t just sitting around languishing during your time away from the workplace and were actively engaged in self-development in some form or another.
Don’t panic if you’re questioned about your employment gaps. Just be sure you’re prepared and have answers at the ready. This will enable you to proceed with confidence and make a strong first impression on your interviewer.
Looking to expedite your job search? Get in touch with Encadria Staffing Solutions today!