I’m a 33 year old programmer who has had Dysthymia (Chronic depression) for quite some time. Due to that I have spent 4 years of my life brooding and staying at home.

Now that I feel fit again I’m planning to start interviewing for programming related jobs.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in computer sciences but the gap in my work history is killing me. The depression was due to many factors which I’d rather not write here. Any advice and suggestions on how to tackle the interview would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Welcome to the workplace. I would suggest you use the "Search Q&A" function, located in the black header of the site, with keywords "Gap", or "Employment gap". You will find several relevant answers there. I mentioned one as a possible duplicate, but there are several questions and good answers on the general topic of long employment gaps.
    – Thalantas
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 12:05

3 Answers 3


Short Answer: Honesty is always the best policy.

Simply explain that you were dealing with long term illness and that you have now recovered sufficiently to rejoin the workforce. Don't offer what illness unless asked (it's nobody's business, neither is what the causes were), then I would suggest answering honestly.

Apart from that, concentrate on the skills that you have earned from your previous experience and how they would be of value to the prospective employer. Explain that you have been trying to keep up to date (have you? If not, do), and that you are ready to face new challenges :)

  • 2
    Great answer - unfortunately there is such a stigma attached to mental illnesses like depression. Until society shakes off this stigma, it's probably in your best interest not to specify what sort of illness.
    – Bekahland
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 13:14
  • 4
    @Bekahland It is a stigma that is slowly diminishing the more that depression is in the public eye. There is a long way to go, but there is improvement.
    – Jane S
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 13:23
  • 4
    I will add my experience to that, don't specify. Everything you say in an interview leaves an impression of some kind. You simply can't predict the impression that mental illness would give. Heck, you could even use a different term than "illness" if that made you more comfortable, like "medical condition".
    – Chris E
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 17:24

I'd simply write "was unable to work due to a medical condition".

Most interviewers are (hopefully) respectful enough to not dig into details of the medical condition. You can focus on what you are now, what skill sets you have that are current and your career goals for the future.


While I understand that being honest is important but that won't make up for the fact that you're probably missing technical skills because of the downtime. And honesty or not, that is going to show if the interview entails technical questions. What I would do after recovery is to work on as many projects/freelance as possible in order to add those to the portfolio and catch up skill wise. When you feel that your bag of projects is sufficient you won't have to bring up your downtime during the interview.

  • 2
    This answer sounds too much like a response to another answer than an answer standing on its own. And you seem to assume OP has not spent any time keeping his technical skills sharp. That may or may not be the case.
    – Brandin
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:21
  • 1
    How would you interpret "brooding and staying at home"? Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .