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The Recruiter Scoop: How to Explain a Work Gap or Lost Job in an Interview

April 20, 2017 | Express Scripts

Tamla is a Senior Recruiter for Accredo, Express Scripts’ specialty pharmacy.  She identifies passionate nurses across the country to assist our patients in their homes by educating them about their ongoing chronic illnesses.

The Recruiter Scoop: How to Explain a Work Gap or Lost Job in an Interview

Most of the time, when I tell someone what I do, I’m met with a plethora of questions. You see, as a recruiter, I’m sometimes seen as the interview expert – with the “inside scoop” on the right way to answer any interview question.

While I’ve received lots of questions over the years, there are two I get most frequently: how to explain a gap in your resume and how to explain being let go from a position. And sometimes, these two go hand in hand.

When candidates have been let go or have a long gap in their work history, they think they will automatically be put in the ‘no’ category. However, in my opinion, that’s a large misconception. I think sometimes candidates forget that recruiters are people too. We understand that life happens unexpectedly and things change.

So, when the question comes up – which it undoubtedly will – here is my advice:

Be Prepared

Make sure you’re prepared to answer. If you had to take time away for personal reasons, just say so. Recruiters don’t necessarily need to know every little detail surrounding what kept you from your work; they just need to be able to tell the hiring manager when he or she asks.

Follow Up With a Positive

If you’ve been let go, simply explain the situation and follow it up by saying something like, “I’m ready to move on and pursue other endeavors.” This keeps the conversation light, avoids painting you in a negative light and refrains from bashing your previous employer.

Be Honest

The most important thing to remember in both of these scenarios is to be honest. Being let go or having a long gap in your work history isn’t going to blacklist you from getting your next position. Some company cultures or positions are not always a perfect fit for everyone, which sometimes isn’t discovered until after the candidate accepts. Just because you weren’t a perfect fit at one company doesn’t mean you won’t be at another.

Remember, being prepared, positive and honest during the interview will help you make the best impression and will display positive characteristics the interviewer will recognize.

Ready to rock your next interview? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.

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7 thoughts on “The Recruiter Scoop: How to Explain a Work Gap or Lost Job in an Interview

  1. Nekaoloo Naasah

    I appreciate you giving a better understanding of what dread some of us that are in similar predicament attending job interview.
    I feel confident now as I go through your presentation. I look out for more of your piece.

  2. Aaron Faulkner

    I was told that my explanation was “unbelievable,” even though it is entirely true. I don’t know what is so unbelievable about cancer, and the miracles that happen to get one on the other side of it… but apparently it is. Following up, apparently, it was more likely that I was incarcerated than had cancer, even though I’ve never even been arrested.

    The people we interview with are definitely people too, subject to the same wandering imaginations as everybody else. Make sure you explain things thoroughly, and concisely, so they know that what you are saying is the truth.

  3. Susie

    Nice to know. Life does indeed happen and it is frankly absurd to be viewed in a negative lifht owing to time away from employment. This time can enrich a person’s character making them better equipped to deal with life’s sudden changes and difficult scenarios.

  4. Carol

    Great advice. We’ve all been there, whether let go or had a gap in employment. Be honest, be up front but be prepared to explain and move on as to WHY you’re the best candidate for the job. It’s all about forward thinking to achieve moving forward. Never burn bridges, not matter how your former employer may have been toward you professionally, personally or otherwise. It makes sense to always take the high road.


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