How to explain a gap year in a job interview?

How job employers accept a gap year? Do they know what a gap year is? It’s important to be ready for that question to pop up and explain why, how, when and what it gave you.

gap year in a job interview

Don’t be afraid to mention it on your CV

Gaps shown in CV don’t look that great sometimes, so be sure to fill it up. It can be really beneficial if you briefly mention a gap year in a resume. If you volunteered, travelled or did an internship abroad make sure you bullet-list your experience. It will stand out from other applications! During your job interview, you’ll have the time to talk about what you did in more depth: why you chose to take a gap year, what you did and also what you got out of it.

If you did something interesting, don’t be shy to state it. When you think about it, most CV’s look the same: 3.5 GPA, excellent time management, professional communication skills with clients, etc. All of these are good to list, but you want to stand out and show that on top of it, you’ve gained valuable experiences and skills by volunteering or travelling abroad.

Examples of how you can list them in the CV

Tips

  • List it under the experience section
  • List down and focus on 4-6 skills/task under each internship, volunteering
  • Make sure you don’t forget to mention the year you did that
  • Adjust the points with the skills that are mentioned in the job application.

Example

Volunteer at Red Cross Germany March 2018 – September 2018

  • Distributed and managed tasks to volunteers (it’s good to also mention how many volunteers)
  • Teaching lifesaving skills (First Aid and CPR)
  • Providing information to the public about the cause Red Cross is working

Internship in Marketing and Business in London February 2019 – January 2020

  • Researching marketing trends and preparing proposals to clients
  • Assist with daily administrative tasks
  • Contribute to making email campaign and social media content

What were you doing exactly

Companies will see someone who has done internships or volunteer programs as a valuable addition to the team, someone who isn’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone and gain new skills.

Did you teach English to kids? Did you take some classes to improve your skills? Did you work in some area related to the job you’re applying for?

Explain it in more detail: what did you do, which challenges did you face, and how did you find solutions. When you talk about getting to the bottom of an issue and solving it, you show that you are not afraid to adapt and come up with new ideas in order to defeat obstacles and get things done.

This experience has given you some of the skills employers look for in a candidate. Be confident in your words and honest about your gap year.

The reason why you took a gap year

Many people are considering taking a gap year after high school or college, but not all have the guts to do it, worrying about how it can affect their career path after they finish.

It’s important to mention the reasoning behind your choice. You may have felt that you needed this before settling down, or you wanted to develop new skills, challenge yourself and become more independent. It might happen that you had a job before but felt it wasn’t fulfilling enough and wanted to get a taste of travelling abroad and finding yourself in the process.

What did you take out of it and how can the skills apply in your next job?

Even though taking a gap year can help your personal growth, during an interview, keep it professional, mention the skills you gained and how those can be useful for that particular job. Explain those in detail. For instance, if you’re now a confident Spanish speaker, tell the ‘why’: you were volunteering in Peru in a community development area and you got to learn it in order to communicate. Or, now you’re ready to become a product manager due to that internship that allowed you to improve your skills in this field. Make sure you backup your statements with clear examples to give a better understanding of the value of your experience on a professional level.

Be honest, confident and keep in mind the experiences and skills you gained from your gap year, put them in good use, make the most out of them! Trust yourself, believe that you’re ready for your next challenge.

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BTP period – 3 months

Returning to school with heads and hands full of new knowledge and energy for Bringing it to the Public. Meeting with the team, showing, telling, exchanging experiences and making it common knowledge.

Producing articles, pamphlets, videos, presentations, exhibitions, speeches for debate forums, books and more. Studying further the curriculum in Fighting with The Poor, bringing the truth to the public. 

Going to different schools around Europe to spread the new knowledge in various creative ways – speeches, newspaper articles, lectures at universities and colleges, debates and other public events, exhibitions – leading to a better understanding and inspiring to take an action.

Passing the final exams in Fighting with The Poor. Using the last months together to conclude our future perspectives and possible ways of improving The Poor’s quality in life with humble ways of sharing knowledge.

Volunteer period – 6 months

The Project Work in Africa or India in cooperation with Humana People to People. In this period, you can work at:

  • Teacher training colleges
  • Educating teachers for rural areas
  • Vocational schools for young people
  • Schools for street children.Preschools
  • Sanitation and hygiene in rural areas
  • Tree planting campaigns
  • Raising funds for social projects by forming partnerships and selling second hand clothes and shoes
  • Stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS (following the program TCE/Total Control of the Epidemic)

Arriving at the project in Africa or India, having left behind a courageous journey where fundamental human capabilities have been turned around, refreshed and energised by knowing that things such as travelling can be done in a totally different way than the mainstream tourist travelling.

Ready for doing the work needed at the project, bringing plans and materials from the previous periods. Getting to know the people at the project, the vision and idea of the project and the many concrete tasks to be carried out.

Carrying out the tasks as defined within the necessities of the project and by the Project Leadership. Fighting shoulder to shoulder with The Poor: building preschools, starting Garden Farming, doing literacy campaigns, eradicating malaria, teaching about big issues of our time while working as a teacher at DNS, starting income-generating activities, working as a TCE Special Force in the fight against HIV/AIDS – as a few examples.

Studying and working with your Specialisation in Fighting with The Poor, finalising with a People’s Exam and a written thesis at the end of the period. Acquiring skills in information work: making interviews, taking notes and pictures, writing summaries and reports, recording videos.

Living together with the people at the project, being a good example of living a humble life while improving things with small means to make daily life better.

Travel period – 3 months

Living on the road, being on the move, finding means of transport and places to sleep, talking to people on the road, being curious to understand and know about the countries you are traveling through.

Making investigations, meeting people, visiting their workplaces, staying in their homes, understanding their problems, meeting their culture and values and sharing thoughts with them about the world and the future.

Telling people about your venture to a third world country, trying out bringing it to the public what you have so far experienced and learned. Putting up investigations on a higher level, asking tough questions to self and to the group, getting hold of more answers and putting up new questions.

Taking notes and pictures, writing reports and discussing the seen and the experienced.
Finding good ways of sticking together in the Trios and in the group as such during the travel period.

Study Period – 6 months

At this school, you will find that learning is not first and foremost about listening to the teacher.

The school’s Program consists of a range of intense and spirited activities, theoretical studies and experiences that constitute the sum of learning and life processes carried through by a group of people who for a considerable period of time share a Program with each other that demands cooperation and efforts, and which at the same time is sprinkled with elements that are inspiring and also quite out of the ordinary.

Thus, learning will also take place through communication, deliberations, through working out your plan for learning and sticking to it, and putting to use what you learned, the methods you used, the ideas you got from it and the results you harvested from the training.

You will train yourself in being adventurers and survivors, living and traveling under very humble conditions, not using much money and always finding a way out by ingenuity, being smart and sticking together with your teammates.