Questions to Ask Applicants with Career Gaps

Questions to Ask Applicants with Career Gaps

Employment gaps are becoming more common on CV’s and it’s time hiring managers show an open mind to them. It was always looked at as something negative that read an applicant was reckless and untrustworthy, not believing they are willing to stay long term. Times have changed so much that these breaks can actually prove just the opposite – it could show traits of courage, self-awareness, and even intelligence.

People step away from roles for various reasons such as; becoming a parent, traveling the world, learning a new skill, evaluating one’s career path and development, and simply to find a more suitable role without wasting anyone’s time. Do any of these reasons sound negative to you? Majority of the time there is a solid understandable reason that hiring managers should seek to find out before pushing their CV aside. It goes without saying that applicants should still explain their employment gap in their cover letter, but if not here are three questions to investigate during an interview to put your mind at ease.

  1. Ask them about their career history including what they enjoyed and why they left each position. This is general, but will give you a good explanation for their gap.
  2. Find out how their employment gap affected them both professionally and personally. This should give you a good idea into the applicant’s personality and outlook on life. Their gap may have even given them the skills required for the role you’re hiring for.
  3. See how they feel about taking another break if things don’t work out. Depending on their response, you can get a feel for their desire for a long term opportunity.

A career break for the right reason/s should be looked it as positive as it adds to an applicant’s experience and knowledge. Whatever the reason, anyone who is brave enough to take a career gap is doing it to add to their story of life.

However, all that having been said, the reality is that employment gaps can be genuine red-flags and should be examined carefully. It can be a sign that people have too many options and may not have the drive or commitment needed to be dependable.

So the real solution is to be aware of both the potential positives and negatives and keep an open mind, but most importantly develop your ability to connect with your gut-instinct (AKA: intuition) because it’s usually right, and the better you get at listening to it, the more success you will have.