If you’re heading into a job interview, it’s a safe bet that the interviewer is going to ask you, “How long have you been unemployed?” or a variation of this question like “How long have you been searching for a job?” Do you know how to answer this job interview question?
Don’t let this question throw you for a loop. During the job interview, the interviewer wants to get to know you. At the same time, they are playing the role of detective to learn more about you, while trying to decide if you’ll be a good fit for their company.
With the classic, “how long have you been unemployed” question, job interviewers are trying to get a better picture of your current situation. For example, if you’re currently employed or recently unemployed, you might be more likely to shop around for a job because you can afford to be picky. On the flip side, if you’ve been out of work for some time there are a few concerns that they’ll want to address, including:
- Are you desperate for a job?
- Are your skills still up-to-date?
- Is there a hidden reason why you are still unemployed?
- Are you searching for the wrong type of job?
Knowing this info, hopefully you can prepare a response to the “how long have you been unemployed” question. No matter what, always tell the job interviewer the truth. Of course, feel free to spin your answer and focus on the positive. Do your best to alleviate the above concerns and ensure them that you’re a solid job candidate.
When answering, try not to place blame, give them a sob story, or complain about your situation. Ideally you’ll be able to tell an interviewer about the productive things you’ve been doing while you’ve been out of work. As a result, they’ll be impressed with how you spent your time. Did you spend your time volunteering? Starting a project? Learning new skills? Hopefully you haven’t just been a couch potato while you’ve been out of work.
Don’t let job interview questions like this stress you out. If you’re making it to the job interview round, you’re doing a lot of things right. You’ve already beat a good chunk of the job search competition and now you just have to prove that you’re the real deal.