Answering Interview Questions about Job History Gaps

When you have gaps in your job history, employers may rush to judgment During a job interview, you can explain gaps in your job history by detailing growth experiences (such as self-directed study or broadening travel).

Sometimes the gaps in your record are of recent vintage — you’ve been looking for employment without success for a very long time. In current periods of unemployment, your posture is commitment — you throw yourself heart and soul into your work and you want to be very sure to find a good fit. Explain your waiting period as a quest for a fulfilling job.

The sample interview questions below appear in bold, followed by effective ways to respond to these questions:

How long have you been job hunting? Wow! That’s a long time — what’s the problem? Why haven’t you had any job offers yet?

  • Say you’ve become more selective lately, and you hadn’t been able to find the right job until this opportunity came along.

  • If you were given a sizable severance package, explain how it financially allowed you to take your time searching for the perfect next move.

  • Admit your career hasn’t progressed as much as you’d like, but the good news is you’ve had time to think through your life direction, you’ve re-assessed your career, and you feel focused now. You’re fueled up and ready to go!

  • Explain that while you’re good at building consensus (through compromise) with others, you haven’t been willing to settle for a job that doesn’t maximize your skills and qualifications. And that low-end jobs are all that have turned up in this market until now. Clarify that you’ve taken your time to find the perfect job fit because the position is very important to you.

If you must blame your jobless patches on sick leave, emphasize that you have recovered and are in excellent health. If personal problems take the hit (ill parent or sick child), again follow up with facts that indicate the personal problems are history. When your record is spotty beyond belief, get a temporary job and then prove by your work record that you’ve turned over a new leaf.

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