Original Article by Wall Street Journal | Read Here
In anticipation of being asked to explain a sticky situation in a job interview, such as a gap of employment on a resume or an arrest, a wise strategy is to prepare and practice a strong response in advance.
For employment gaps, be honest about what happened. Don’t dwell on it. Offer a brief explanation for your absence with confidence and then try to move the discussion forward. For example, you might say, “I am now ready to re-enter the work force. I am excited about this new direction in my life, and that’s why I’m happy to be speaking with you.”
Keep in mind that employers simply want to be assured that your past won’t be of any harm to their business. They also want to know that you’re ready to work again, so briefly mention the steps you’ve taken to get ready for this next career move. Give s short synopsis of what you did to get yourself psychologically and emotionally ready to rejoin the workforce.
As far as explaining the gap on your resume, you can list your experience up until the date you left the workforce and then explain briefly in a cover letter why you have been unemployed since then. Or, say on your resume that you took a sabbatical to cope with a personal matter.
But what if you have bigger troubles than a gap on your resume, such as a prior legal conviction or arrest? Candidates with this question sometimes decide to tempt fate and not mention their convictions in hopes that an employer a) won’t conduct a detailed background check or b) if it does, the crime won’t show up.
If you don’t disclose a misdemeanor and the company learns about it before hiring you, interviewers may question whether you have been completely forthcoming about other things. Employers often consider dishonesty worse than a past conviction. Trying to hide your past may give the impression that you can’t be trusted. You can minimize the potential fallout by disclosing the information yourself. But wait for the right time. Many executive candidates don’t get to the application and reference-checking stage until the company is ready to or has made an offer. That is the time to be forthright.