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For any of you who follow our blog, attend our programs or use our website you know that we talk a lot about job search. And, even more specifically a lot about the concerns people have about having a gap on their resume due to cancer diagnosis or treatment.

Although it’s illegal for employers to ask specifics about health, it’s not out of the ordinary for them to inquire about a gap in employment during an interview.

To make sure you stay in control and feel prepared, it’s wise to decide ahead of time what you will say, just in case you are asked. Be brief, speak in general terms and talk more about the future than the past. We call this technique the Swivel because your goal is to acknowledge and address what is asked and then redirect—or Swivel—the conversation towards something more productive that addresses your actual goals and desire for the job.

The key to the Swivel is to not leave an opening for the interviewer to dig further into the gap but ideally nudge them to pick up the conversation from where you have swiveled it to. You don’t want to lie in any part of the hiring process, but it is important to remember that no one shares every last detail about themselves in an interview. The purpose is to figure out whether you and the company are a good match. So when thinking about your Swivel you’ll want to come up with a succinct, authentic answer and then practice it over and over so that you feel comfortable with how you plan to address the gap question.

Sample Swivels:

  • I was dealing with a family issue that is resolved now AND I am thrilled to discuss how my management skills can build the team and grow your business.
  • I realized that what I was doing didn’t fulfill me so I took a step back to think about what would make me happy AND I think my tech background would really be an asset not just for this role but for the company as a whole.

For more advice to help you feel in control of your job interview, visit our resources on mock and informational interviews.

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