Interviewing After a Long Career Break? Here's How to Restart

Learn how to showcase your skills and explain your employment gap professionally in an interview after a career break. Restart your career with the given tips.



You have taken a career break due to family reasons, to explore your hobbies, or maybe to rediscover yourself.  

But that doesnโ€™t mean you cannot go back to work once youโ€™re ready.

๐Ÿ“Œ An employment gap in your resume does not always downgrade your job prospects.

In fact, in a survey conducted by LinkedIn, it was found that around 62% of employees have taken career breaks in their professional careers.

Half of the employers believe the candidate with a career gap possesses untapped potential.

That being said, it becomes critical for candidates with a career break on their resumes to meet the expectations of the recruiters while explaining their circumstances.

It can sometimes be difficult to explain your circumstances to an interviewer.

But don't worry! Here we will cover: 

  • How to prepare for an interview after a career break? 
    • How do you professionally explain a gap in employment?

      So, let's get started! โœจ

      How to Prepare for an Interview After a Career Break - Tips for Various Employment Gap Scenarios

      There may be a career gap due to various circumstances.

      To make things simple for you, we will share some vital tips to help you handle an interview for different situations.

      ๐ŸŸข When you have to take a career break for personal reasons

      Once you have been out of work for a while, it is natural to get anxious.

      You might worry that your skills have gone obsolete because the world keeps changing.

      However, you can turn this situation around. โช

      Let the interviewer know that you wanted to step back to re-evaluate your future career and cultivate new skills during the break.

      Rather than looking at your drawbacks, look forward to knocking down the interviewer with your confidence and experience.

      The following tips may provide you with a better chance of taking a U-turn in your career๐Ÿ‘‡

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Sharpen your conversation skills:

      It has been a while since you were an active player in the field.

      So, you need to re-practice your conversational skills.

      Practise talking about your old job and experience, and discuss your career goals with a mentor, friend, or relative.

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Anticipate what is on the way:

      You know you will be fired with the question about your unemployment.

      Hence, make sure to prepare in advance for what you want to communicate.

      ๐Ÿ“Œ Then, shift the focus of your conversation towards what you've gained from your experience with unemployment.

      Finally, highlight the skills you've honed during this time.

      Showcase yourself as a strong personality with multiple skills.

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Connect your past experience with the current opportunity:

      Discuss your skills and keep the conversation sailing in the direction of your experience. โœ”๏ธ

      Discuss how it applies to your new role.

      Share some facts about a particular industry and try to establish that you are up-to-date with the latest trends.

      ๐ŸŸข When you are a stay-at-home mother

      For most stay-at-home mothers, it is crucial to be self-assured and show confidence during their interviews.

      They need to project conviction in their career decision to stay at home with their children.

      Show your interviewer how hard you have worked to balance your personal and professional priorities while staying home.

      ๐Ÿ“Œ Clarify that you decided to remain at home because it was for the best and that you wanted to take care of your family first.

      Now, that you have settled everything down, youโ€™re ready to get back to work and restart your career.

      Interview tips for a stay-at-home mother:

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Face your interview with confidence:

      You need to project confidence in your decision to stay home.

      At the time same time, showcase your ability to be the best fit in your new job role.

      Explain your professional qualifications and describe how you have kept yourself updated with the most recent industry trends.

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Learn to anticipate:

      You can anticipate questions coming as most interviewers ask the same type of questions.

      As a re-entering working lady, you can expect queries directly related to your return status.

      These questions may largely be based on how you have kept yourself updated.

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Don't hesitate to ask questions:

      There are chances when you may be asked if you have a query.

      Before your interview, it's essential to research the company you are applying to.

      ๐Ÿ“Œ Create a list of all the possible questions you can ask your interviewer.

      This will help establish that you have conducted thorough research.

      ๐ŸŸข When you have been a freelancer all your life

      It might be tough to work full-time following a definite schedule after you have been a freelancer all your life.

      There are many fronts where a freelancer needs to fight to showcase their abilities and skills, especially during the interview for a full-time job.

      Keep a sharp focus on your abilities, and don't forget that you have been a proud business owner working as a freelancer.

      ๐Ÿ“Œ As a freelancer, it is necessary to demonstrate that not only can you run a business on your terms, but respect other people's commands and are ready to learn the new culture of the organisation.

      Interview tips for freelancers:

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Relate your freelance skills with your job:

      As you have maintained your own line of work, you have gained different skills that most other full-time employees often lack.

      You can prove that you are a fast learner and how you survived in different business conditions.

      Moreover, many companies like startups look for flexible team members and prefer freelancers.

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Have a strong reason for your transition:

      You must have a strong and valid reason for why you are a freelancer looking for a full-time job.

      This is an obvious question, and you have to smoothly pass this hurdle.

      Consider giving a confident answer like "I want to use my abilities for a bigger cause."

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Communicate your leadership skills:

      The inability to work as a team is a big pitfall for freelancers.

      You have to prove that you are a leader and can take ownership.

      Working as a team is a big requirement for a full-time job and you need to justify your ability accordingly.

      ๐ŸŸข When you have been working at the same company for a long time

      It can be a scary experience to face a new interviewing process if you have been working in one place for too long.

      If you feel that this is the right time to change, you have to prepare yourself according to current scenarios and learn how to adapt to the new work culture.

      While working in the same role and the company, you may have never bothered to match the pace with the current situation.

      You might think that you'll fail to impress your new employer.

      Keep your worries aside, and follow the tips below to nail your interview.

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Never doubt your capabilities:

      If you doubt your capability, it will become even hard to convince your potential employer.

      Rehearse to answer common interview questions and keep on practising. โœ”๏ธ

      ๐Ÿ‘‰ Prepare your answers:

      Be prepared that you will be judged with the most common question, "What made you decide to go for a change after such a long bonding?"

      Your answer should have a positive note about switching your job.

      • You can share that you were feeling monotonous in your current role or,
        • You accomplished your responsibilities and are now aiming higher to keep yourself motivated.

          ๐Ÿ‘‰ Learn the skills that are in trend:  

          Before applying for a new job, ensure that you have something new up your sleeve.

          For example, learning a new programming language will definitely help you during the interview.

          Understand that a new programming language comes up every few years, and you must be aware of the trends in the market. 

          On that note, here are top 10 in demand IT and Tech skills in 2023.

          ๐Ÿ‘‰ Study the current interview styles:

          Remember that it has been a long time since you faced your last interview.

          Things have changed a lot, and you might be outdated with the latest developments.

          ๐Ÿ”น๏ธConsider joining various communities and social media groups to see how interview trends have changed

          ๐Ÿ”น๏ธCatch up with what is up within the particular industry.

          ๐Ÿ”น๏ธBe smart, stay updated, and prove to the interviewer that you are willing to adapt to change.

          ๐Ÿ‘‰ Focus on why you want a change:

          The fact that you were loyal and stayed a long time with your previous employer reflects your commitment.

          But it can also suggest that it can be hard for you to start afresh.

          ๐Ÿ“Œ Don't speak anything negative about your previous employer, but show how excited you are about the change.

          If you throw the dice right, then your experience may help you grab the new opportunity you were looking for.

          How Do You Professionally Explain a Gap in Employment?

          You may need to apply for a job with a gap in your employment history.

          ๐Ÿ“Œ Don't consider it a demotion in your CV.

          However, you must know how to address the issue during your interview, as this may be the very first question you will have to get across.

          Most of the time, the interviewers will be keen to know why and how you left your previous position and how you survived without a job.

          They would like to figure out whether you were fired or left voluntarily.

          You must be able to find a way to explain your employment gap.

          ๐Ÿ’ก The pro tip to explaining employment gaps is to avoid sounding defensive.

          Rather, appear composed and unapologetic, and be comfortable with the reasons you provide.

          The best strategy is to provide a simple and honest answer.

          ๐Ÿ‘‰ Describe how you filled the gap:

          Specify how you spent your time.

          You can share anything constructive you did and its relation to the position you are applying for.

          ๐Ÿ‘‰ Share personal reasons in brief:

          There may be an employment gap because you took time to rehabilitate from an injury or stayed away from work due to parenthood.

          Describe your issues in short, and how they will not interfere with your work further.

          ๐Ÿ‘‰ Be honest:

          Remain truthful and avoid unnecessary details.

          Share if you were laid off or fired because you and the company had different expectations or if you took time off for personal reasons.

          Donโ€™t Forget Follow-Ups after Your Interview

          A job application process requires waiting.

          Being anxious is okay, but don't overreact.

          You need to act smart and know how and when to follow up after an interview.

          Consider the following tips:

          ๐ŸŒ€ โ€˜A Thank Youโ€™ note:

          The day after your interview, send a thank you note to the hiring manager for their time.

          Point out something that you learned during the interview and, in the end, write when you can expect to hear back about the conceding steps. ๐ŸŒŸ

          ๐ŸŒ€ First follow-up note:

          In case you don't hear back by the due date, don't send a note right away.

          Instead, wait for a week, and while writing, express your interest and ask if there is something additional required from your end.

          ๐ŸŒ€ A second follow-up email:

          Be concise in your second follow-up note.

          You can write,

          "I have not heard a reply to my last email, so I just wanted to check how the interview process is moving.

          Looking forward to hearing from you when you have any news to share.


          Prepare for an Interview After a Career Break with Preplaced

          Preplaced's 1:1 mentor-led preparation is built to prepare you for your next job interview after a career break. ๐Ÿ’ช

          Our mentors will show you different ways that they can tackle this situation.

          They can guide you on how you can maximise your confidence and build a rapport with the interviewer rather than trying to impress them.

          Connecting with your interviewer is more critical than focusing on the performance, say the mentors of Preplaced.

          At Preplaced, you can connect with expert mentors from your targeted domain who can guide you at each step of the interview process.

          Here are some of our mentee stories who made a successful transition. โœจ

          "Being out of the interview scene for so long, I felt lost. My attempts at interviews didn't yield the results I hoped for. It was apparent that I needed a fresh perspective and guidance to identify where I was going wrong. That's why I chose Preplaced's mentorshipโ€”to have someone help me fine-tune my approach."

           - Srikanth

          "Balancing my education with the responsibilities of motherhood, I found myself in need of external support to conquer the challenges of job interviews. I specifically chose Preplaced because it offered 1:1 mentorship. This meant I could receive personalised advice tailored exclusively to my needs."

          - Shriza

          "Every day I woke up with the thought that I am jobless. It made it hard for me to push myself forward. That's when I came across Preplaced and connected with Harsh. He was always available, taking regular updates and follow-ups. He pushed me out of the weakest point of my life."

          - Sujit

          Our mentors are working in your targeted roles themselves and they have the capacity to help you improve your skills.

          They do this through a series of mock interviews to evaluate your skills.

          They also analyse your resume, and portfolio and design a personalised and flexible interview plan for you under their expert guidance.  

          All you have to do is select a mentor and book a FREE strategy call with them. โœ”๏ธ

          If you like their mentoring style, you can go ahead with the full mentorship program.

          Click here to select a mentor and try out a FREE strategy call with your selected Preplaced mentor! 

          Final Words

          Your skills just need some brushing up, and you can be ready for your next interview, no matter how long your career break has been.

          Even the smartest and most highly qualified job seekers go through a rigorous interview process and have to spend time getting familiar with the newest trends.

          Be ready to prepare to professionally explain your employment gap.

          Be it personal reasons or family reasons, by following the above steps you can restart your career after a long gap. ๐Ÿ™Œ

          Ready to restart your career?

          Start Preparing with a Preplaced Mentor!

          More related articles:

          Pre-interview Checklist: What to Do Before Your Job Interview

          How to Clear the Final Interview Round: 12 Tips to Succeed