How to Address Your Unemployment Time in Your Next Interview?


Are you worried about any gaps in your resume? The impression your work history leaves with employers is an important one. But also consider that the past year has resulted in more periods of unemployment for otherwise stable employees than ever before. Employers are more understanding of employment gaps given the COVID-19 pandemic, but you shouldn’t just ignore them. Here is how you can address these questions openly and honestly once you head into your next interview.  

Be Honest and Upfront About Your Work History 

While it can be difficult to sugar coat a period of unemployment to a prospective employer, keep in mind they have lived through the job market struggles themselves. You are much better off not trying to hide gaps. Remember, honesty is truly the best policy. Tell interviewers what happened as objectively and honestly as you can while still remaining diplomatic of your past employers. There are hundreds of reasons people needed to take a break. And most employers recognize this.  

Try to remain unemotional and objective when explaining what happened to a prospective employer. An interviewer is learning about and evaluating your response to difficult situations as they are interested in your documented employment history. The worst thing you can do is lie. Any lies could potentially be found out through background or reference checks. And those lies are reasonable cause not to be considered for the job.   

Stay Positive When Talking About Past Experiences (even the Bad Ones) 

Rather than blaming previous employers or bad-mouthing coworkers when explaining a firing to a prospective employer, keep your explanation simple and to the point. Focus on the facts. Try your best not to place blame. Take responsibility for past mistakes. Communicate how you plan to improve your interactions to tell employers that you are ready to move on. This will show that you can take criticism in stride and be constructive in your navigation of difficult topics.  

Describe What You Learned and How You Grew from the Experiences 

Many professionals have gaps in their chronological work history. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything between jobs. Surely you did nothing during your gaps? Those experiences, those passion projects or times invested in raising or assisting family through tough times provide very valuable learning opportunities that help shape professionals and make them core members of their future teams. Think about how you grew personally during your gaps, and incorporate those learnings into your job search. They are what differentiate you and make you unique. Rather than glossing over or trying to hide your gaps, leverage them in an interview or in your cover letter to explain how they shaped you as a professional. They will actually help you shape your future career success.  

Be Confident in the Value You Bring 

Don’t let that emotion get in the way of communicating your value. The bottom line is that even with gaps, you can be a powerful force within a team. If a company doesn’t understand what curveballs life has to throw at even the most qualified professionals, then you might not want to work there anyway. While answering questions about any period of unemployment can be uncomfortable, know that you’re not alone. Being prepared for whatever comes your way and having confidence in the skills you’ve attained during that break can go a long way to bridging the gap with poise and professionalism.

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