Everyone has their reasons for taking time off work – a voluntary sabbatical, a break to find the right job, or personal family matters that requires a hiatus from the office. Whatever your valid reason might be, to an employer or hiring manager looking at your resume, all they see is a big gap.
Thankfully, your CV can be carefully tailored to deflect attention from the gap and land you that interview. But knowing how to defend yourself during the interview is different ball game.
Why do you have such a big gap between jobs?
What did you do during the gap year?
Why do you think I should hire you if your experience is dated?
These are just some of the questions you might face.
While each situation is unique, taking note of these tips can get you past any difficult interview:
Make honesty your best policy
It is inevitable that you will be asked about your break. If you’re planning to get away with with a “cover-up” for your absence, we suggest you scrap that thought pronto. Your hiring manager doesn’t only look out for what you say during the interview, but also how you carry yourself. When you’re lying, your body language and facial expressions can betray you, regardless of how convincing you think you sound. Always assume your employers will fact check what you’ve shared with them. It’s embarrassing to be called out, why would you risk it?
Highlight extracurricular activities
Employers are naturally wary of candidates who have been away from work for an extended period, no matter what the circumstances were. Your challenge lies in effectively demonstrating what you’ve done to keep up with industry advancements.
Whenever possible, highlight any interesting activities you’ve participated in, especially those that add value to your candidacy, including attending courses or taking up freelance projects. The trick here is to show that you’re well in-tune with current developments and trends.
Other activities worth mentioning include volunteering and travelling, which can be excellent ways to showcase your personality.
Prepare, rehearse, repeat
Before you get carried away and share too much information, remember to rehearse ahead of time. This will ensure that you provide a cohesive and logical narrative that is easy for your interviewer to digest.
Don’t forget to keep that fidget and nervous finger tapping at bay, watch your posture and speak confidently.
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