How can I justify a break in my Career ?
Some of us have taken a break in our careers for different reasons. While we are confident why we chose to do so, how do we effectively communicate this to an interview panel ?
I guess I can answer this question since I have lived those moments.
If this question doesn’t haunt you then no one can stop you to get into the B-school of your choice, not even the interview panel.
The B-school admission interview turns into a cumbersome task when you are not able to substantiate your reason of taking a break in an appealing way to the panel. It can turn into a stressful interview. The panel knows about the industry more than you do and they will grill you to the extent that either you get convinced that you committed a grave mistake by quitting the job or prove it to them that you took the best decision of your life to explore a new career path.
It is not about their perception, it is about how you make the interview panel think of your potential and candidature.
The ball is always in you court, my friend. All that matters is that how do you play with it.
So, make them feel that cracking CAT was so important for your future prospects that it was the need of the hour to take break from your profession. Your job was too demanding and you were not able to put in full efforts so it was inevitable to leave the job. Show your determination and zeal to learn. The crux of the discussion is that being genuine is the only way you can get through the interview with ease.
This question remains a matter of concern for a great number of aspirants every year. Therefore, you can be assured that you won't be the first or the unique one who has had a break in career. However, this can also become a worrisome thing because the interview panel has been hearing multiple reasons for a break in career and can very well gauge the genuineness of a candidate during the interview. Therefore, it is important for you to be very clear about what was the purpose of the break in your career. This will help you speak with conviction during the interview and help you answer all the following questions, in case the panel is trying to grill you on it. In order to ensure this, it is important for you to understand why taking a break was the best option you had and was in alignment with what you were looking for in the future. Think of all possible questions that could be asked around it and develop your answers to each of those.
Lastly, believing in your capabilities is vital to remaining confident in an interview and will help you sail through any tough questions around the break in your career or anything else too.
I understand your apprehension. It is natural to have this question arise in your mind.
Let me highlight some live cases I have seen in B-schools:
1. 4 Years gap due to UPSC: One of my decorated classmates at XLRI used to be my senior back in B.Tech. He had a gap of 4 years on his CV. He had managed to clear UPSC mains only once during this period. And yet, he's here at XLRI.
2. 1 year gap due to personal problems: I know of an acquaintance in SPJIMR who quit her job after one year and went home because of some commitments. She was working on freelance projects when she was preparing for CAT.
3. 8 months gap to pursue stand-up comedy: I myself took a break from my job because it was too much to handle. I was doing stand-up comedy part time and prepping for XAT and GMAT.
All three cases are very varied and unique. None of us these people had anything in common except that they had a certain gap in their careers. It doesn't/shojuldn't/won't matter if your percentiles are good and you do well in your WAT/GD/PI processes. You might be questioned about your decision but as long as you have something substantial to show for it, then all is fine. Maybe you learnt a new language, maybe you read a lot of books, maybe you wrote one, maybe you followed a lot of international news, maybe you started a blog..... the list is endless. Do make sure that you have something to show.
Hope this helps.
The best way to justify a break in your career is, to be honest about it in front of the interviewers. They are experienced enough, and there is no point in bluffing them. If you dropped a year/gave up your job to study for CAT, tell them honestly. Say that you tried to manage it with your prior occupation but weren’t able to give your best to both the roles at the same time, so you decided to focus on the preparation full time. It only goes to show that you want to put in your 100% in whatever you do and highlights your commitment to it.