How do you perceive a gap in an interview candidate's work history?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How do you perceive a gap in an interview candidate's work history?

  • Not a problem as long as they explain and it's a good reason: 69%
  • A big problem if they don't proactively explain it: 16%
  • I don't care at all. I'm interested in their skills: 15%

Explain the gap. Gaps in your employment history aren't an issue for interviewers - as long as you explain it. If you took time off to get a degree, raise your kids, care for a sick relative, or just "find yourself," employers won't have a problem with it. Avoid the temptation to not address it. While it may feel awkward to do so, clearly interviewers have a preference that you explain it proactively. Remember - if you don't explain it, employers are legally prevented from asking you certain questions like marital or family status. If you don't provide the explanation, you're forcing them to dream up one of their own. That can lead to a bad outcome for you.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."