How to Discuss a Short-Term Job in an Interview (with an Example)

Dec 14, 2023

The world of employment has undergone several changes throughout the past three years. Workers’ priorities are shifting, leading to job switches quicker than before. In 2021, LinkedIn reported a 37% increase in members changing jobs. Similarly, the global effects of COVID-19 have encouraged more job-hopping, or staying at an employer for one year or less. While career paths are no longer linear, brief stints in employment may raise suspicion during an interview.

Take Olivia, for example. She is a young finance professional with several companies under her belt across only a few years. She left her first job after six months because she struggled with work-life balance. After one year at a new company, she accepted another position that better aligned with her career goals. Olivia is currently interviewing for other opportunities and is often asked the question, “Can you explain the short stints on your resume?” Since she had prepared an explanation, Olivia knew how to answer the question and eventually landed a new job. By using the guide below, you can navigate the same tricky discussion during your next interview.


Use your cover letter to your advantage.

A cover letter is the perfect place to elaborate on your employment history before the interview process begins. Acknowledging short stints displays your proactivity and willingness to address potential concerns. This way, you will have control over your narrative before the interview process begins. When writing about the circumstance, the previous tips still apply. Your goal is to present a transparent, honest, and positive account of your short-term employment.


Be transparent.

If you have job-hopped recently, it’s a good idea to anticipate that a hiring manager may ask about it. Embrace the chance to provide a clear and honest explanation for your departure. Interviewers not only want to learn about your experience but also want to determine how you carry yourself. Take accountability for your brief tenure without making excuses. Avoid fabricating details and shape the response around you. Be sure to thank them for the opportunity to discuss the short-term job to show your openness toward the subject.


Focus on the positives.

A question about short tenure may be daunting, but it is important to maintain a positive attitude throughout the discussion. Even in a short time, you likely learned things about yourself and your industry in the process. Emphasize key achievements, projects you worked on, or skills you acquired during your time there. Describe the circumstances respectfully, avoiding negativity about the previous position, company, or team—the interview is about you, not a former manager or coworker.


Paint the bigger picture.

Think of an interview as a story about you. Concisely connecting the dots will help the hiring manager understand your previous employment. Frame your brief job as a growing opportunity that has prepared you for future career endeavors. Your “bigger picture” should emphasize your fit for the potential role. Tie in your experiences from the short-term job to the requirements of the position you’re interviewing for. Demonstrate how the knowledge you gained aligns with the hiring manager’s needs.


Practice your response.

Before the interview, rehearse how you will answer the question about your short-term employment. The more you prepare, the less stressful the real thing will be. Practicing what you will say helps you articulate your points confidently. When Olivia was asked about the short stints on her resume, here is how she replied:

“During my time at Finance Central, I had the opportunity to assist in the implementation of a new reporting system. This allowed me to develop my proficiency in financial software. I believe this skill will be valuable in contributing to streamlining reporting processes at your company. While my tenure at Finance Central was brief, I am confident that my skills and enthusiasm make me an ideal candidate for this position.”

Your response may look a bit different depending on your reason for a job hop. Remember that honesty is the best policy, so tweak your response in a way that best fits your situation. Employers appreciate honesty and the ability to turn challenges into learning experiences. The next time you’re asked about a short-term job, have no fear! By following this guide, you can effectively address those concerns and demonstrate your suitability for your next role.

Written by: Employment Enterprises

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