Job Interview Question

Why have you been out of work for so long?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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Boy, I bet you’d like to know the answer to that question, too!  The job search can be a very difficult time for many people, but it’s important that you show a positive face to everyone.  Answer every job interview question with as much positivity and as little negativity as you can.  It makes you more appealing to others and puts you in a better spot to receive a job offer.

The worst thing you can do is shrug your shoulders and say something vague about the job market.  And you can even do better than saying, “I just haven’t found the right opportunity yet.”  It’s better to point out that you were out of work by choice.

If you can, talk about how you took some time for some personal things before you hit the job search (maybe because you had a nice severance package, maybe for some other reason).

how to answer interview questionsWhy would you want to do that?  Because it’s helpful to you if you can point out that in reality, you haven’t actually been in an active job search for as long as it seems.

So that gives you a 3-6 month cushion of time and then you can say, “So I’ve only really been actively looking for the last 4 months or so, and I’ve been on some interviews, but nothing that really was a great fit.  But it’s REALLY picked up lately, so I don’t think that I’m going to be in the search for much longer.”

Do you see what I’m doing here?  So overall, I’m saying, “Well, first, I didn’t start it really as soon as I probably should have because I took that time off, and second, the market’s been pretty bad, and third, it just takes a couple of months to really get a good search going.  The average time from first contact to job offer, if you’re going to get one, is 8 weeks, so the fact that I’ve only been searching for 4 months is probably the biggest factor.”

And then, this is a really big key point:  say that “based on what I’m seeing, though, it’s really picking up and I don’t expect to be unemployed for much longer.”

That’s an important psychological tactic to use:  everybody wants what someone else wants, so give yourself a little bit of that aura of unattainability by pointing out that you are going to be snapped up soon.


If you’d like to practice your interview answers with professional feedback, or you need help with specific answers, I’d love to work with you as your interview coach.

Find out more about my special offer for personal 1:1 coaching or my group coaching membership that meets online Thursday evenings at 7:00pm CST!


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