why have you been out of work so long

Why have you been unemployed for such a long time? Best answer

A few interview questions can be tough to handle. They create a subtle emotional burden. You feel a fair bit of pressure while responding to them. “Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?” is one such tough nut to crack!

With the emergence of Covid 19 and the Russia – Ukraine war, unemployment rates across the globe have shot up. So, this question is going to be fairly common during interviews!

Are you unemployed for a long time? Why have you been out of work for so long? What have you been doing during that time?

Interviewers need to understand this part of your career thoroughly. It provides them many insights that are necessary in selecting the right candidate.

This is why, if you have gone through such bad patch in your career, you want to be well prepared to answer interview questions on being unemployed!  

Unemployment can be a difficult experience, both financially and emotionally. When you are unemployed, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one going through it.

You may wonder why you can’t seem to catch a break. You may fret about why it seems like everyone else is moving ahead while you’re stuck in the same spot. But the truth is, you’re not alone. 

If you have been unemployed for a while, you may be worried about how to explain the unemployment gap in your resume in a job interview.

If so, take a deep breath and calm down first. Remember, millions of people are unemployed now, and they have their own stories. In this blog post, we’ll offer some powerful tips on answering these questions effectively in interviews. Read on!

Here is how we will go about it –

  1. 10 Similar Unemployment Interview Questions
  2. Why do employers ask this interview question
  3. Top 7 Reasons behind this question
  4. Why freshers or professionals are unemployed for long periods of time?
  5. How to convince interviewers about the unemployment gaps on your resume
  6. 7 Tips on how to Answer, “Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?”
  7. 6 Sample Answers to trigger your imagination for your own response
  8. 6 Mistakes to avoid when answering unemployment interview questions



10 Similar Unemployment Interview Questions

  • Why haven’t you got a job yet?
  • Why have you been unemployed for such a long period of time?
  • Why was there a gap in your employment?
  • Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?
  • What have you been doing while unemployed?
  • Why have you been out of work so long?
  • Why haven’t you received any other opportunity till now?
  • How can you explain not working for years?
  • Why haven’t you received any other opportunity till now?
  • Can you explain the gap in your employment?

One of the questions interviewers may have on top of their minds, especially if you have an unemployment gap on your resume is, “How long will you work for us?”



Why do employers ask, “Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?”

Generally, you will find it hard to get a call for an interview with most companies if your resume shows a large unemployment gap.

This is natural because it creates doubts about how reliable you are and how committed you are to performing in the professional world. 

This means, that if you have received an interview call, in spite of your unemployment gap, you seem to have the skills and capabilities that the interviewer is looking for. This is actually a positive sign for you. 

This is why you first need a deeper understanding of the reasons behind these interview questions on unemployment. 


Top 7 Reasons why interviewers ask, “Why have you been out of work so long?” 

1. One possibility is that the employer is concerned that the candidate has been unemployed for a long time because they may be a poor fit for the job or have some issue with their previous employers. 

2. Another possibility is that the employer is looking to see if the candidate has been actively searching for work and, if not, why not.

3. Interviewers want to understand your shortcomings and weaknesses. They are trying to judge where you are falling short in the process of recruitment. 

4. They are keen to understand you better as a person. They are trying to gauge if they can trust you or not. How you respond to interview questions of unemployment is as important as what you say while answering. 

5. Interviewers are trying to determine if they can believe in you to continue with their organization in the job offered for long and successfully. Hiring is quite expensive for all companies. 

6. They may discover your inclinations, interests, or passions which may be one of the reasons for you to be not employed for a long time. It may actually create a positive impression on them. 

7. Finally, interviewers are curious about, Why and how you handled the unemployment period. Show them how you think and a few insights on your overall strengths and weaknesses. 



Why are freshers or professionals unemployed for long periods of time? 

  1. They were laid off during the recession, and it’s been hard to find a new job 
  2. The industry they worked in collapsed, and there are no jobs available in that field 
  3. They took some time off to take care of their family or personal life situations.  
  4. They were fired from your last job
  5. Freshers may take such breaks to focus on learning new skills or getting new degrees which they may be lacking from the job market’s perspective.
  6. Sometimes, they may have been hired, but their joining is delayed by the recruiting company and finally, they are not given a chance to join (this is not the case of firing from a job.)



How to convince interviewers about the unemployment gaps in your resume?

1. Address the gaps in your resume head-on by being upfront and honest about them. Explain your real reasons like why and how you took some time off to care for a family member or focus on a personal project. Don’t try to cover up or hide the gaps in your resume. It is better, to be honest about them. 

2. Be prepared to discuss why you had to take or face these gaps, what you’ve been doing during that time, and what you’ve learned from the experience. 

3. Focus on how you can use those skills and experiences to benefit the company you’re interviewing with. By being open and candid about your background, you’ll show that you’re confident and capable of handling whatever comes your way.

4. If you can provide examples of how you used that time wisely, it will help to make your case look more credible. For instance, if you took a break from your career to volunteer or take classes to update your skills, say so. The more proof you can provide that you were productive during your time away from work, the better.

5. Make sure to have an explanation ready for any job gaps that are less than one year long – interviewers will want to know why you didn’t look for work during that time period. 

6. Demonstrate that your break is worth it and that you achieved what you set to do with this phase of your life. For example, you may have attended spiritual camps or even volunteered to help plan them. Perhaps you’ve used your talents for charitable endeavors. It is important to showcase the results of your efforts during this time period. 

7. Keep a positive and assertive tone as well as posture. Any feeling of negative angle to your story in the interviewer’s mind can cast doubts about your answer and your story about you being out of work for so long. 



7 Tips on How to answer “Why have you been unemployed for such a long time?” 


1. Explain why you were unemployed

It is essential to explain why you were unemployed to the interviewer. We have already discussed a few common reasons for unemployment. All you need to have is some courage to open up. 

Be honest and direct with the interviewer. If you do not mention why you were unemployed, it will come out eventually, and it will look like you were trying to hide something. This will not make a good impression on the interviewer.

Explaining why you were unemployed can help highlight your emotional intelligence, handle tough situations, and ability to make tough choices.

For example, if you were laid off from your previous job due to downsizing, you have experience dealing with difficult situations. In addition, if you take some time off from work to care for a family member, you are willing to put your family first and take care of them.


2. Talk about what you did in your gap from work

It is best to be candid and truthful about what you did during your unemployment gap. For example, you can say that you took some time off to travel or pursue other interests. Or maybe you took some time off to care for a family member. 

Whatever the case may be, make sure that you’re honest and upfront about it. Potential employers will respect your honesty and appreciate your willingness to be open and transparent. 

It is important to show how you’ve been active during this gap for whatever reason you had to take it. 


3. Talk about your job search process

Discussing your job search process with the interviewer is extremely important. It shows that you’re organized and proactive. Additionally, discussing your job search process allows the interviewer to know you better and see how you think.

When discussing your job search process, mention why you’re interested in the position and what makes you a good fit for it. You can also discuss your career goals and explain why this position is a step towards reaching those goals. 

As an example of how you can talk about it, consider the following response. 

“I am very excited about the job opportunity, and I appreciate your time in considering me for the role. I am confident that I have the skills and experience to make me an excellent fit for the job, and I am eager to get started.

My job search process involved:

  • Researching potential roles
  • Targeting companies that were a good match
  • Preparing my resume and cover letter
  • Scheduling interviews

I was selective in choosing which jobs to apply for and only applied to positions I was interested in.

I also took the time to prepare for interviews by studying the company’s website, learning about their products or services, and rehearsing potential questions.”


4. Mention your challenges and what you did to overcome

Describing how you overcame challenges is important for a few reasons:

  • It shows that you are resilient and capable of handling difficult situations. This can give the interviewer confidence in your ability to address similar challenges in the role you’re interviewing for. 
  • Describing your overcoming of challenges showcases your problem-solving skills. These are essential skills for any job. By sharing a specific example of how you solved a problem, you can give the interviewer valuable insight into your thinking process and abilities. 
  • Sharing a challenge you faced and overcame can help build rapport with the interviewer. By being vulnerable and open about a time when things were tough, you create an opportunity for connection and empathy. 


5. Focus on keeping a positive vibe 

Use a good tone and confident body posture when responding to the “What have you been doing while unemployed?” interview question.

You may also emphasize how much you learned during your job gap, the new skills you have built, and how it will help your professional growth.

Focus on sharing anything good you’ve accomplished in the last year. You may also spend some time on what was the most interesting part of the activities that you did. 

Give them opportunities to understand you more as a person. Let them understand what motivates you. 


6. Describe what you learned, your achievements, and skills that you acquired during the unemployment gap 

Most candidates may never consider doing this in response to interview questions about unemployment. The discomfort in answering these questions creates a fight or flight reaction in their mind. 

If you have genuine reasons for not doing or getting any jobs for long periods of time, then such questions are your opportunity to show how you are focused on learning and growth. 

You want to carefully think about your key strengths as well as your skills, even before you appear for your next interview. 

If you have any accomplishments or achievements during this period, ensure that you bring them up! 


7. Prepare Your Response in advance 

No one enjoys explaining long-term unemployment in an interview, but you must be prepared to do so.

You may want to rehearse it as well so that it almost becomes mechanical when you have to deliver it in the interview. This way, you have more space in your mind to carefully observe and respond to the interviewer’s reactions after your answer. 

As a starting point, consider creating a few lines for your own answer in the vein or style of the following sample answer. 

“The fact is, I took some time off to care for my family. It was a difficult decision, but it was the best thing for my loved ones. I’m now ready to get back to work and am confident that I can be a valuable asset to your company.

I understand that you may have some questions about my employment gap, and I would be happy to answer any of them in detail.

However, I can assure you that I am fully committed to finding a job that is the right fit for me, and I believe that your company is a great place to start my search.”



6 Samples of – Why have you been unemployed for such a long time Best Answer


“I lost my last job a year ago due to a company-wide layoff. Unfortunately, the job market is still quite tight, and it’s been challenging to find a new job that matches my skills and experience. I’ve been applying for jobs regularly, and I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to find a new job soon. I think I have the necessary skills to help your organization fulfill its goal of delivering excellent customer service.”


“I quit my previous job four months ago to care for my aging father. Unfortunately, he recently passed away, and now I am looking for a new job. I appreciate your concern, and I want you to know that I am actively looking for a new job. I have applied to dozens of jobs, but I haven’t received any offers yet. However, I’m confident that I will find a job soon.”


When I was younger, I thought that getting a job and working hard at it would be enough to make me happy. But after a few years of working in my previous job, I realized that I wasn’t getting the personal satisfaction I thought I would. And so, I decided to take some time off to reassess what I wanted to do with my life.

I know that being unemployed for an extended period can be difficult, but it has been a time of reflection and growth for me. It has allowed me to explore different interests and figure out what truly makes me happy. As cliche as it sounds, life is too short to spend doing something we don’t like to do.


“In my case, I have spent the last few years furthering my education and improving my professional skills. I believe that this investment in myself will pay off in the long run, as I will be better equipped to find a job that suits my qualifications and interests. Additionally, taking some time off from work has allowed me to recharge and refresh myself to approach my job search with renewed energy and enthusiasm.”


“I have spent some time volunteering and contributing to local organizations. Also, I have not been able to find full-time employment that meets my qualifications. I have also been attending school part-time to become certified in my field. Finally, the job market has been challenging due to the current economic conditions. While it has been difficult being unemployed, I am confident that I will be able to find employment soon and get back on my feet.”


“I have been unemployed for a long time because I have been volunteering and contributing to local organizations. I am very passionate about giving back to my community, and I believe that is more important than working a job that may not be fulfilling.”



[Important Read before your next Interview

20 Strong Examples of – Tell me about yourself for Fresher Sample Answer ]



6 Mistakes to Avoid while answering, “Why haven’t you got a job yet?”

There are a few common mistakes that job seekers make when answering the question, “Why haven’t you gotten a job yet?” 

1. Not researching properly

One mistake is failing to do adequate research on the company and position before the interview.

Instead, you should take the time to learn about the company’s culture, values, and what they’re looking for in a candidate. This will help you formulate better answers to questions, but it’ll also show that you’re truly interested in the opportunity. 

Remember, you got a call for the interview, in spite of the unemployment gap on your resume. This means there is something about your skills or experience that they like.

Thorough research will help you build your story about your time being unemployed.

2. Don’t be vague

Another mistake is providing vague or “safe” answers to this question. Your interviewer wants to see if you’re self-aware and honest.

So avoid giving canned responses like “I just haven’t found the right job yet.”

3. Don’t tell the story of how you were fired

Another frequent error is giving too much detail about an unfavorable situation, such as telling the story of how you were fired from your last job.

Remember, your goal is to present yourself in the best light possible. You want to convince your potential employer that they should take a chance on you. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on the positive aspects of your candidacy and avoid dwelling on negative experiences. 

4. Don’t crib about the things, not in your control

Don’t crib about the unemployment rate. Avoid lamenting too much about how things were stacked against you.

When interviewers ask this question, they’re not looking for a rant about how the economy is screwing you over. Instead, they want to know what you’re doing to improve your job prospects.

5. Don’t be hostile towards your former employer

Don’t express hostility toward your previous employer. Even if you left on bad terms, it’s essential to be professional and respectful when talking about them.

Potential employers may see this as a sign of instability or poor judgment.

6. Avoid any lies or excuses

Do not lie or embellish your resume. Stay away from any excuses that may come to your mind. These are all shortcuts that can hurt your career severely!

Potential employers will likely check your references and verify the information on your resume, so it’s important, to be honest, and accurate. 




It’s no secret that unemployment can raise the eyebrows of recruiters and interviewers. They want to know why you haven’t been able to find a job in the last few months (or years) and what you’ve been doing instead. 

If this question comes up in your next interview, don’t panic! This article will help you craft the perfect answer. The above tips and sample answers will help you explain those gaps in your resume and some common mistakes to avoid while answering this tough question. Good luck!



Check these related common interview questions for better interview preparation

1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

2. Why should we hire you?

3. How to smartly write achievements in resume?

4. How to effectively answer – What are your achievements?

5. How to smartly answer questions on weakness in interview?

6. Why do you want this job?

7. How do you handle stress and pressure?

If you go over these questions, you will fair much better in your next interviews.

However, if you want to leave no stones unturned in your preparation to crack your next interview, you must check out the “Fresher Interview”. It will give you detailed guides and strategies to handle all difficult but common interview questions!

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