There is no doubt the job market has taken a beating in the last few years and many people have got laid off. This had made it tough for unemployed people to find the right job. However, this hasn’t deterred employers from asking prospective job applicants why they have been out of work for such a long time. And, if you tried to educate them, not only would your interview end quickly, you would still be without a job answering the same question in the next interview.
So, what is the best way to answer a tough interview question like this?
If you tell the interviewer that you have been struggling to get a job, it would make you an unattractive candidate. The interviewer will think if other companies don’t want you why should they hire you. He or she will think the problem lies in you and your abilities. Hence, it is important to answer this question carefully.
Let the interviewer know the reason you have been without a job is not because your services are not highly sought-after, but because you are careful and selective about the type of job you want to do. And, this particular job that you are interviewing for meets your selection criteria and that is why you would love to have the job.
The idea is to turn the focus away from the duration of your unemployment and bring it to your skills and the value you can add to the company. Also, use this opportunity to inform the interviewer that you have been searching actively for a job, but haven’t found the right job as yet. Make it sound as though your unemployment period was intentional, as you have been waiting for the right company that meets your career goals. This will be perceived as an indirect compliment to the company and will please him or her. In fact, many interviewers love this and often view candidates who make such statement more favorably!
If you have been without a job for a long time, it is necessary you prepare for your interview with care, because whether you like it or not the reason for your unemployment will be part of the interview.
Here are some sample answers that you can mold and edit to suit your situation.
Answer 1: I admit finding the right job hasn’t been very easy. I give a lot of importance to my career path and as I intend staying in my next role for a good number of years, I thought it was best to take some time to explore the different opportunities. This would allow me to make sure I was selecting the right opportunity.
I have planned my career and it is extremely important that any job I take meets my long-term career goals. This is the reason I have been very selective about the job opportunities, but this particular job meets all my criteria.
Answer 2: I’m not really sure why I have been unemployed for so long. I have excellent background with ‘X’ (number) years of experience in this field. I also have sound knowledge and expertise in this field. I know there are many other people with similar skills, but what sets me apart is my ability to work seamlessly with diverse teams and customers.
I also have a unique combination of people skills and technical skills and this has helped me advance in organizations I worked for previously.
Answer 3: I have no intentions of applying for just any job in order to be gainfully employed. I have been waiting for the right job opportunity and company that matches with my career goals. There are not too many such companies and I would like to work with one that is willing to hire someone with my skills and qualifications.
These three answers show you are not trying to avoid answering the question. You just alter the focus of the answer. Remember, if you are being called for interviews, it is a sign you have skills that this particular company is interested in. So learn to handle such tough interview questions to show the interviewer you are a focused person and the best candidate for the said job.