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Job interview questions and answers (Part 13): How to explain employment gaps


In this week’s job search tip, we’re gonna be going over how to explain employment gaps while you’re searching for jobs. That’s coming up! Hey guys, I’m Kim with Snagajob, your number one source for hourly jobs and welcome to Job Hunters, our weekly job search advice show. We show you everything from resume tips to interview advice and everything in between. Now this week we’re gonna go over how you should explain employment gaps in your job interview. Now this can be pretty scary, especially if you’re straight out asked about your employment history. And here are the top three reasons we hear for employment gaps. I had to leave my last job four years ago because of some medical issues. What will employers think about that? A number of years ago I stopped working to take care of my Mom as she had gotten pretty sick. I’m ready to get back to work now, what do I say? I’ve been a stay at home Mom for the last two years, how would I explain this to an employer? So keep in mind it’s OK to have gaps in your employment history and that employers are use to seeing them. You’re not the first the person who has ever had to take off time from work and you certainly won’t be the last. Now you do want to explain the situation but without going into too much detail. Employers don’t need to know the specific medical issues you are having or things your Mom was going through when you were taking care of her. Employers really want to see what you’ve been up to. You want to show them that you’ve been busy and how your experience will make you a valuable employee. So be sure to include any volunteer work or activities you’ve done that can really make you stand out. I had to leave my job a few years ago to deal with some medical issues that came up. Everything’s been resolved, and I’m ready to get back to work. Actually, since that time, I’ve been taking classes at the library to brush up on my computer skills. About five years ago, I needed to leave my job to act as a caregiver for a sick family member. It was during that time I realized my passion for helping others which is why I’m excited about this opportunity to work for your company. I’ve been working as a stay at home Mom for the last two years. During that time, I’ve really perfected my time management and organizational skills. I’ve also been volunteering at the local food bank where I oversee and coordinate several food drives. So while you may think having a gap on your resume is a bad thing, we hope this video changed your mind. In fact, many employers will admire your reasoning for your gap in employment history. So thanks for joining us today. If you like this video, please let us know so we’ll know to continue to make videos like this. And if you have any questions about your job search in general, comment below and we’ll make sure to get back to you. We may even make a video about it. And if you’re ready to get your job search started, click the button at the bottom of the screen and it will take you to snagajob.com to start your job search today. And don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel by giving that button one little click and you’ll get a new job search video every Wednesday. Bye!

66 Replies to “Job interview questions and answers (Part 13): How to explain employment gaps”

  • Great question, Matthew. Education is a great reason for an employment gap. Employers can usually see that you were in school based on the information you provided in either your application or your resume. Good luck!

  • Great question, Xavier. It really depends on how long you worked for the employer. If you were fired after two weeks on the job, then you can leave it off your resume. But if you worked there for a few years, then it should be on your resume. Check out our "How to explain being fired" video for ways you can talk about what happened in an interview. Good luck!

  • I am 19 and still wondering what to say. I have looked on snagajob and I really want to try this time.

  • Great idea! We actually have a lot of tips on how to make a resume on Snagajob's Resources page. If you go to our website and click on the "Job Tips" tab at the top of the page, you'll find a ton of articles with job search tips and interview advice, as well as resume advice! Check it out and let us know if you have any questions!

  • Hi, Pablo! We actually have a video about that: "Job interview questions and answers (Part 7): Do you have any questions for me?" Check it out and let us know if you have any questions!

  • Can you talk about if an employer tends not to hire just because you may answer "NO" to the question on the application that asks, "Can we contact your employer?".

  • Great question. You may want to find a way to explain why you said, "No." There are a number of good reasons to answer "No" to this question but first make sure you can't just say "Yes" on the application but then talk to the employer during the interview about your concerns (ex: your previous place of employment no longer exists, you don't have a previous employer because you are applying for your first job, or you don't want your current employer to know that you are looking for a new job).

  • Letters of recommendation are good because they are references from other people who can attest to you as an employee and worker. Fewer employers are asking for letters of recommendation but make sure you at least have three or four people who can be a reference for you. Also, make sure you ask these people before you put them down as references as well.

  • The last answer is the one I used for my current job when I applied and they still hired me:-) However, that is just temporary until I have my CAREER type of job. I still wonder if employers cringe when they see the word "NO" to that question. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Please help me. I have an unemployment gap and my last "good" job ended in February 2012 because it was a temp job. Since then I worked 2 full time jobs but got terminated by BOTH of them due to lack of qualifications. My last job ended in July 2013 but I am afraid to put it on my resume since I was terminated. I don't want my termination to stain my reputation. Could you please give me a suggestion what I should do?

  • Check out our video "Job interview questions and answers: How to explain being fired" on our YouTube channel. The information in the video might be helpful to you. Let us know if you have any other questions! Good luck!

  • i've done nothing except look for work…and they want more from me? i dunno what to say. I've litrally done NOTHING.

  • same here….i'm getting grilled on this also…i've done nothing except look for work…just been unlucky. and now it feels like they are trying their hardest not to give me the job because of these employment history gaps…I'm so pissed off that this is the reason i can't get a job.

  • Looking for work is a very acceptable reason for employment gaps. Employers just want to know that you've been active and not just sitting on the couch. Something else you can do to help you stand out and fill employment gaps is volunteer work! Employers love to see people involved in their communities and it often shows that you can maintain a schedule, manage tasks and work with a team.

  • How do you explain a criminal record during an interview?

    Also I just got a job and the interview went awesome thanks to these videos! One question that did trip me up was,
    "If we were to contact your previous employer, what would they say is your area of improvement?"

  • I am 62 and retired, I need a part time job. I don't want seasonal, I want a long term part time job, and one where I don't have to stand long hours. What type of job should I look for?

  • I left my job around an year ago and started my own business which is not doing well at the moment. Now I want to go back to job. but I am confused how to justify my decision of starting business during my new job interviews? can you please help me in finding the answer of my question?

  • Just came across your channel and i wish i had a while back! i have an interview for a professional graduate program soon & also job searching (at the moment) & your videos are very helpful for preparation! good job and thanks!

  • These videos have been super helpful I have a job interview tomorrow, and I feel so much more confident about it. Thanks!

  • I have a similar question; I have tickets to a family planned trip out of the country a few months from now and while job seeking I was wondering how and when I would tell my employer that I would have a potential gap early on in my new position?  I'm not sure if I should mention anything until I get the job? I worry that if I do it'll hurt my chances to get the position, but if I don't tell them I worry that I'll be seen as not fully honest.  Yet, I also thought about postponing the job hunt?  

  • I have an interview tomorrow and your videos are truly helpful and inspirational! I hope they helped me through! Good job and thanks for sharing!

  • How about this answer to this job interview question? (I would advice to call and ask the other employers about their real reasons of not hiring me since I been actively job hunting.)

  • I need to fact check my work history, especially start and ending dates. I can order report thru social security office with fee, but is there another way to do this??

  • Hi there I want to thank you for this video it was very helpful. But I'm not sure how to better phrase my employment gap, I have some health issues (Asthma & Type 1 diabetes) and due to these diseases on one point of my employment I was unable to work for nearly 2 weeks which almost got me fired (illegal to do, I know, there are laws that defends me from getting fired). How do I bring this subject up to my potential employer without him/her thinking I won't be a great aspect for the company? I'm a motivated worker and have always expose myself to new challenges and taking risk. I want my new employer to know that while I like to try new things and be as helpful as I can, that due to my health issues that one day I might be in a bad spot. Know what I mean?

  • Great topic and video! I do have a couple of questions though. If I say I had some personal medical issues and that they are now resolved, wouldn't the employer want some kind of documentation stating so? Or is it illegal for them to ask what kind of medical problem I have had and to ask for a doctor's statement I'm medically fit now? Also, if I said I took 2+ years off to take care of a family member, is the employer going to want some kind of proof that I did so or is it illegal for them to ask for documentation and just take my word for it? Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated! I enjoy your videos very much! Take care!

  • how can i explain my "no work experience".. i have to stop studying to take care of my mom [24/7] who is sick and just died recently. i have no plans to go back to school as i think i am too old to get back to school. How can i explain this?

  • Good topic, but answers were not good. Need to do a better video to explain the economy, when you can't find a job, etc.

  • I got laid off and helped my father with his finances and Doctors appointments but I didn't volunteer or take any classes. How would I answer that question?

  • I`ve got serious issues before until I discovered an answer and that`s the program that authorized me to make income over 161 USD every day. A few other sites didn`t work to help me get a lot of achievements besides the fact that getting their survey jobs can promise huge income. Only this website has attained my fulfillment. Go to the search engine and type "shocking soto press" on Google and you will learn significant aspects of this plan. For certain you will enjoy it…

  • I left that job because I ws being discriminated agansit and treated like I was less than an animal.

  • "I got laid off during the Strategic Realignment of 2011 and have been working freelance since 2011. During this time I've attained 4 Professional CERTs." I always get told I don't have enough recent experience to this and have even been told that my CERTs would violate the non-compete clause of a workplace [even at a grocery store]. So if no one will hire me, how am I suppose to get recent experience?

  • What if you're a caregiver with no job experience prior to the start of the caregiver gap?

    I REFUSE to take a caregiving-related job after my caregiving duties end. I want NOTHING to do with it.

  • I completed my post graduation 2 years ago and I since then I am preparing for some competitive exams. but nothing worked. I worked as a guest lecturer in a college for 4 months and that is just all I did in these 2 years other than preparing for the exams. so currently I just gave a pause to exams and started job hunting. so this gave me a 2 years gap in my career. How can I explain this in an interview positively?

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