You have taken a career break due to family reasons, to explore your hobbies, or maybe to rediscover yourself. But that doesn’t mean you cannot go back to work once you’re ready.
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 worry not because we have created a guide on how you can tackle those challenging interviews and, once again, bounce back on your career journey.
Interview 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.
🟢 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 and worry that your skills have gone obsolete as the world keeps changing. However, you can turn this situation around by letting your 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 career.
👉 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.
👉 Anticipate what is on the way: You know you will be fired with the question about your unemployment. Prepare for what you want to say and redirect your conversation to what you have learned from unemployment and the skills you have developed in your leisure time. Showcase yourself as a strong personality with multiple skills.
👉 Connect your past experience with the current opportunity: Discuss your skills and keep the conversation sailing in the direction of your experience. 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.
🟢 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. 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, you have settled everything down, you’re ready to go back to making your career.
Interview tips for a stay-at-home mother:
👉 Face your interview with confidence: You need to project confidence in your decision to stay home and simultaneously 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.
👉 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 and may largely based on how you have kept yourself updated.
👉 Don't hesitate to ask questions: There are chances when you may be asked if you have a query. Research the company you are applying to and list all possible questions you can shoot at your interviewer to establish that you have done fine research.
🟢 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.
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:
👉 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.
👉 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.'
👉 Communicate your leadership skills: The inability of working 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.
🟢 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 never bothered to match the pace with the current situation and think you might fail to impress your new employer. Keep your worries aside, and follow the tips below to nail your interview.
👉 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.
👉 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 that you accomplished your responsibilities and are now aiming higher to keep yourself motivated.
👉 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.
👉 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.
🔹️Consider joining various communities and social media groups to see how interview trends have changed
🔹️Catch up with what is up within the particular industry.
🔹️Be smart, stay updated, and prove to the interviewer that you are willing to adapt to change.
👉 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. 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 Explain a Gap in Employment?
You may need to apply for a job with a gap in your employment history. 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 will like to figure out whether you were fired or left voluntarily. You must be able to find a way to explain your employment gap.
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.
🔹️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.
🔹️Share personal reasons in brief: There may be a 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.
🔹️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.
Don’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:
🌀‘A Thank You’ 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.
🌀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.
🌀A second follow-up email: Be concise in your second follow-up note. You can write ‘I had not heard a reply to my last mail, 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. Regards.’
Groom Yourself for Your Interview with Preplaced
The Preplaced interview preparation program is built to prepare you for your next job interview after a career break. Our mentors will show you different ways that they use to 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.
Preplaced connects you with an expert mentor in your career choice who can guide you at each step of the interview process. Since our mentors are working in those roles themselves, they have the capacity to help you improve your skills by making you go through a series of mock interviews, analysing your resume, designing a unique interview plan for you, and preparing you for the interview under their expert guidance.
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. You have to act smart and mature and sound professional all the time. Remember that you have experience and be enthusiastic about your interview.