Nowadays, gap years are more popular than ever, with many opting to take them not just before, but also after their studies. Taking a gap year and/or going travelling can help to shape you as an individual, giving you life experiences that you wouldn’t ordinarily gain in the workplace.
As such, knowing how to talk about your gap year and the skills you learnt in a job interview is extremely important. Employers may be curious about the gap in your CV, but as long as you are able to confidently explain how the experience has shaped you as a person, you’re sure to make a great impression.
Read on for our advice on how to talk about your gap year/travelling in a job interview.
Everyone will have their own reasons for taking a gap year or going travelling. It might be that you simply wanted to explore the world and find out more about different cultures. It might be that you felt you need to take some time out to think about your future.
Whatever it may be, it’s important that you’re able to explain it to a potential employer. They’ll want to discover what motivates and drives you and this is your chance to tell them.
Moving on from the above, it’s likely that one of the interview questions the employer will ask is what you learnt from the experience. You need to respond with an answer that’s going to be relevant to the workplace. So saying something along the lines of ‘I learnt that I can’t handle my alcohol’ isn’t really going to cut it.
After all, you need to show that you put your gap year to use and that you weren’t just lounging around on a beach for 12 months. Focus on the life experience you gained, thinking about how this will shape you in the future.
For example, you may have learnt more about yourself as an individual, matured during your time out, developed as a person, changed your view of the world, or learnt new skills that are invaluable in the workplace.
The skills you learnt during your gap year/when travelling should be a key focus and talking point in the interview. This is your opportunity to tell the employer exactly what you took away from your time and why this makes you the perfect candidate.
Examples of skills you may have gained include verbal and non-verbal communication, teamwork, problem-solving and so on. Make a list and ensure that you have evidence to back each skill up with. In addition, familiarise yourself with the skills in the original job advert. You should ensure that yours match up with this.
One of the biggest concerns that an employer may have with someone who has taken a gap year is that they have the ‘travel bug’ and may not be as committed to the workplace as someone who goes straight into the world of work. You need to prove them wrong.
Reassure your interviewer that you’re ready to start your career within their organisation, reiterating what the experience taught you and why you feel ready to join the world of work. This needs to be genuine. If you are having second thoughts about whether it’s the right career for you, it’s better to address these early on.
Interviews can be daunting enough, let alone if you’re worried about how to talk about your gap year. But remember, your time out will have given you a wealth of experience which could benefit you in your career, so use it to your advantage.
Be sure to talk about what you learnt and the skills you gained, making this relevant to the job you’re interviewing for. Be conscious of the employer’s body language – if they seem uninterested in your story, it may be time to wrap it up.
As long as you put the preparation in, you’ll be in a good position to make a great impression and land that job, so stay confident in your abilities.
About the Author
Augusta is PR Manager for CV-Library and has been writing about career related topics for over six years. She has a passion for communication and enjoys creating all sorts of content for her employer.