Discussing Unemployment During an Interview

As of July 2, 2015, the average unemployment period of an American worker is 28.1 weeks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you belong to this group, you’re probably feeling a bit discouraged, but it’s important to keep your chin up.


Getting a great job is challenging enough when you’re gainfully employed, but it can be even more difficult if you’re currently out of work. However, you were able to score an interview, so it’s clear that the hiring manager sees your potential. Learn how to shine in your interview by being prepared to discuss why you’re unemployed, what you’ve been doing during your time away from the workforce, and displaying confidence in your abilities.

Don’t speak negatively about former employers.

There’s no room for negativity in a job interview. No matter how awful your former boss was and how much you still resent them, you need to put on a happy face and rise above it. If you speak poorly of a former company, the hiring manager will assume – if hired – you’ll one day do the same to their organization. No one wants to take on a future liability.

Exude confidence.

It’s easy to get a little down on yourself when you’re out of work, but a job interview isn’t the time or place to let your insecurities show. Make a list of all the reasons any employer would be lucky to have you on their team, and use this to combat your pre-interview jitters. Remember, you’re also interviewing the hiring manager to see if you want to work at the company.

Put a positive spin on your unemployment.

It’s easy to explain your unemployment if you quit your job to go back to school full time, to care for a loved one or if you were laid-off, but don’t panic if you were fired. Instead, spin the incident into a valuable experience that you were able to learn and grow from. Most hiring managers are sympathetic to the fact that everyone makes mistakes — it’s what you learn from them that is the most telling.

Explain how you’ve been staying busy.

If you’ve been using your unemployment to continue growing your skill set, make sure to emphasize this. Explain any relevant part-time jobs, volunteer roles or continuing education courses you’ve been keeping busy with, to make it clear that you’re a very proactive person. The hiring manager is sure to be impressed that you’ve used your free time to become a more competitive candidate.

Show your industry know-how.

It’s easy for the interviewer to assume you’re a bit out of the loop, since you’re currently unemployed. Combat this theory by mentioning trends and news impacting the healthcare industry right now. Keeping up with the latest occurrences on your own watch shows a genuine interest in your field.

Periods of unemployment can happen to the best of us. Use these five tips to position yourself as the most competitive candidate, despite your current employment status. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you find your next behavioral health position, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at info@psychpros.com.

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