In this competitive world, going for a job interview with an academic gap can often make you feel under-confident. However, the fact is that most students who have taken a gap year find that it has benefited them greatly. Though challenging, explaining these benefits in a way which strikes a chord with an employer is crucial.
Here are a few effective methods that you can use to showcase your academic year gap as an advantage during your first job interview.
If you have had a gap year in your academic timeline, the first thing you should do is own it without being ashamed about it. There can be several reasons for this; maybe there was a financial crisis in the family, you were undergoing health issues or maybe you were preparing for a competitive exam. Irrespective of the reason, explain your past situation to the interviewer and be honest about it. Do remember that you probably won’t lose out on being considered for the job because you experienced a complex situation. But you are more likely to lose out if the interviewer believes you are lying or you come across as if you’re trying to cover up something.
Be concise yet comprehensive
It is important that you don’t bore the interviewer with details or come across as you are defending your decision by taking too long to put forth the reasons that led you to consider a gap year. Often, giving too much explanation can seem like you are trying to cover something up by presenting an alternate version. Also, being confident and brief will increase your interviewer’s trust in your presentation and communication abilities.
Plan your speech
You shouldn’t create or plan a fake plot. However, it is important to revisit the gap year and arrive at some key highlights about how you used that time in a productive manner and the specific skills you acquired during that time. Doing this will make you more confident and less defensive at the time of the interview. Furthermore, if you stumble or fidget when discussing your gap year, your interviewer might think that you’re hiding something, even if you aren’t. Hence, preparing beforehand is very crucial.
Emphasize on the positive
While explaining your gap year, be sure to give emphasis to the constructive activities that you undertook during your gap year. This could be additional courses that you took to develop your skills, internships, volunteer work, etc. It could be even something unstructured that you might have pursued. Bring light onto the positive experiences and explain how they have helped you evolve in different areas of your life.
Show your commitment to stability
Lastly, to ensure your gap year does not create uncertainty in the mind of an employer with regards to your commitment, take time to explain how you are now ready to commit to your current career development phase. If your break was recent, talk about long-term so the hiring manager is convinced about your commitment. If it was a while ago, talk about how the break has made you realize an even greater need for stability over the years.
To sum it up, use the gap year as an opportunity to communicate that you are driven and willing to learn. Be confident and go through the above pointers to be interview ready and no gap year can hold you back from securing your dream job.