I found this article on LinkedIn and would like to offer my own thoughts on explaining gaps in employment when in a job interview.
In my experience, interviews can be a delicate dance. You should be approachable and friendly, but not overbearingly so or you will appear to be “faking it”. Its a good idea to use the interviewer’s name at the end of the conversation but it can be easy to forget it. Its important to present yourself as having the skills necessary for the job, but to be honest and not overstate your ability (a sticking point for me…I always accurately represent my skills to avoid getting into a bad situation).
Add to this the fact that you need to explain gaps in your work history. What if you quit a job to care for a sick loved one or to take care of some medical issues for yourself? The interviewer might think that since you or a loved one have health issues there is a good chance you will have to take time off if they hired you. If you quit a job because you and your boss didn’t get along, or you didn’t like the work, or there was too much stress, and you were out of work for awhile before your next job, how do you convey that without sounding as if you are hard to please or flighty?
The article gives great advice and a lot of information that I was unaware of. First, recruiters and hiring managers generally understand that sometimes you need to take time off for medical issues either for yourself or a loved one. It points out the obvious, that they are human and have their own experiences. This sounds like a no-brainer but I know that for me, it was something that just never really occurred to me because I get so nervous in interviews.
Second, there are ways to tactfully explain reasons for leaving a previous job. Without saying anything really negative about the prior company or manager, you can say things like it wasn’t a good fit because you wanted more autonomy than they offered, that you “didn’t fit in with the competitive and bureaucratic culture” of the company (per the article). I think that’s great advice. And since its always good practice to turn a negative into a positive, you can say something about how you see the qualities in the company you are interviewing for are much more aligned with your desires.
I highly recommend this article, as it goes more in-depth than I will here. I will end by saying that interviewing with agencies is always low stress to me, as you can be very honest with them about your background and experiences. This serves two purposes; it enables them to have a solid feel for what you are looking for in a company, and it will allow them to help you phrase things and represent yourself in a positive light.
Whatever tools you use when interviewing, be yourself, be honest, ask questions and most of all….RELAX.