Subway platform with Mind The Gap warning

“I’m nervous about a job interview I have soon. I have an eight month gap on my resume and I just know it’s going to come up. The reason for the gap is quite involved and personal; one that I really don’t feel like explaining in great depth to an interviewer. So should I just say that the gap was for personal reasons and leave it at that? Or will it seem suspicious if I don’t go into greater detail? I had to leave my previous job suddenly (but on good terms), took care of what I needed to over the course of the past eight months and am now ready to jump back into work. On my resume it’s just a gap with no explanation but I suspect I’m going to have to address it in person.”

One thing is certain, you will definitely be asked about this in the interview. And if your interviewer is doing their job correctly, they’re going to want to know enough detail about the gap to determine if it’s a point of concern or not.

Explaining a gap in employment during an interview can be tricky. Usually the best approach is to address the issue in a direct and forthright manner. This doesn’t mean you have to go into exhaustive detail (like you want to avoid); but you should aim to address the following –

  • Let them know the break was voluntary, and try to provide a rationale for it being a necessary break.
  • Make it clear that the reason for your hiatus has passed and are ready to return to full time employment.
  • If possible, secure recommendations from supervisors, colleagues and customers confirming your previous employment and achievements. Incorporate these into your LinkedIn profile.

Without knowing much more detail, it’s hard to advise specifically what you should say. However, your main aim is to assure them that it was a one-off, you are committed to work and there is no bad blood between you and your past employer.

Here are some extra tips for those who might need to explain different types of resume gaps:

  • If you were laid off due to a work force contraction, it will be important to provide any evidence of strong performance as you explain the circumstances surrounding the downsizing.
  • If you are now targeting a job which requires different skills or competencies then you might emphasize how your strengths are better suited for the job at hand.
  • You should generally avoid any negative characterization of your former employer since many prospective employers would take the employer’s side.
  • A proactive approach providing evidence any positive recommendations from previous jobs can be helpful.

Good luck with your interview!