Ask LH: Should I Mention Weekly Medical Appointments At My Job Interview?

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Dear Lifehacker, I'm thinking of moving on from my current job, but there's a problem. I have some health issues that require a weekly appointment and I currently have my appointment on a Friday afternoon. My current manager has rearranged my work hours slightly so that I can attend this appointment. My question is: if I get an interview for a new job, should I tell them about this at the interview? If so, how do I go about it? Thanks, Health Conscious

Dear HC,

We've covered similar territory to your question in the past. As we said then, you should concentrate on getting them interested first and worry about disclosing your health issues later. Obviously it's important not to lie, but there's no reason why you can't be strategic about when you choose to drop the information.

During your first interview the company will still be separating the wheat from the chaff, which makes it perilously easy to fall into the 'do not hire' pile. Unless they specifically ask you, we wouldn't say anything about your medical issues at this point. All it can do is hurt your chances.

If you land a followup interview, the prospective employer will be more likely to consider your specific requirements as you've already passed the first hurdle and proved you're hirable. Your situation is really no different to other time rearrangement issues such as childcare, and a decent employer will make allowances, especially as modern technology means you can always catch up on tasks afterwards if necessary.

While it will still be a bit of gamble, we'd advise mentioning your medical commitments at the final interview stage, if not before. Waiting until you're offered the job will look sneaky and dishonest. They may also refuse to accommodate you which means you wont be able to take the job anyway.

Depending on the nature of your health issue, it might also be worth contacting a specialist job agency that caters to people with disabilities. Examples include Nova Employment, Houses With No Steps, SkillsPlus and the Australian Government's Disability Employment Services.

Going down this route means prospective employers will be aware of your medical needs before you even step into the interview chair. In other words, you can forget all about it and concentrate on showcasing your skills.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Making any mention of medical issues at any point in your life immediately cuts out a lot of options. Many employers will tell you that everything that's really hard to prove is terrible. Unenthustiastic, not up to the pressures of the role, not a cultural fit, that kinda thing. Doesn't matter if it's complete garbage.

    I disagree with the author saying it's just like a school run, it's very different. In terms of what they actually need to do it's just about the same, but many people will personally dislike you for being unwell unless it's in a subset of conditions it is socially acceptable to have. I'm assuming it's an invisible illness since you said you can choose when to mention it, so likely something with severe discrimination. Many will assume you're lying, want attention, delusional, insane and so on.

    On one hand they probably aren't very good to work for if they do that. Unless you are in high demand you may not be able afford to lose that many options, particularly if you fall in to other groups that are discriminated against. The demographics in your industry also effect what proportion of jobs it would rule you out for.

    There are employers that are really good about it. The place I'm starting at next year were lovely when I physically fell to pieces during my interview. Made sure I had stuff to eat and drink, gave me somewhere to lie down and tried to cheer me up.

    A pro of mentioning it in the final interview is that since it's face to face you can judge their reaction accurately. A pro of mentioning it early is that you can find out how accomodating they'd be before you sink too much time in to it. If I have a friend working there I'll ask them about it to determine whether it's worth my while applying.

    Short answer - yes you should disclose the requirement to attend regular doctor appointments.

    Can it hurt your chances?

    Sure. Some employers might get in a flap about it, and would you want to work for such an employer given that you do have this requirement? I would imagine that you wouldn't. So if they will throw you into the "too difficult" basket on the basis of this requirement then have you really lost anything? I would suggest that you haven't.

    It's a similar situation for those that have suffered serious illnesses or accidents. If they disclose that they've overcome a serious illness that may make them less attractive to some employers, but then do they really want to work for such unsympathetic employers should they suffer a relapse?

    If you don't disclose this important and relevant piece of information until the final aspects of the recruitment process then you might have given yourself the best chance possible of securing the opportunity, or you might have wasted a whole heap of your own time, and that of the potential employer. You could look at it either way, but I would suggest that honesty is the best policy, and that you should disclose your requirement at an early stage of the process - such as towards the end of your first interview - whether that be with a recruiter or the employer directly. Typically the interviewer will allow you an opportunity to raise questions, and that would be an appropriate time to do so.

    Frankly I don't see the requirement being a huge hurdle, especially if you only require a couple of hours off of work per week.

    I would suggest that you are diligent in your research so that you're able to inform the interviewer of the times that you would need to take off, and let them know if you're willing and able to make up the time and if so, how -i.e. Im happy to stay late or come in early for the other days. Don't be vague about the time that you need to take off - be specific. If you can quantify the situation the employer will be able to analyse and make a judgement call. If you're wishy washy about it you're making the employer guess as to whether or not it's an issue, and they won't want to do that - and you'll go directly to the too difficult basket,

    People do go to the doctors. And dentists too. It is quite normal and to be expected and I'd be surprised if you get much resistance due to your situation. But for everyone's sake please get prepared and be honest.

    Being someone with an 'invisible illness' that is greatly discriminated against, when I recently interviewed for a job, I decided not to disclose my illness - for 2 reasons. 1. I did not want to be discriminated against, and put in the 'do not employ' pile for a job that I knew I had more than ample skills and ability to do, and 2. I resolved not to commit to anything more than what I knew was within my abilities to remain on top of the management of my illness, and to give 100% to my job.

    The down side is that almost 3 months later, I am being pressured to take on more than what I'm capable of (but probably what is still within reason for a healthy person), even though I negotiated a contract which says otherwise. I'm now facing having to disclose my illness on some level in order to stop the constant push and conflict over my hours.

    I realise that I am now open to criticism for not disclosing my illness however, I did not commit to more than what I can manage, and in sticking to that, it does not affect my working capacity and my ability to do my job well. It doesn't make it easy though, and insisting on not increasing my work commitments despite the pressure from my superiors tends to make me look inflexible and uncooperative to a degree. I do maintain though, that I was employed on the basis of a certain number of days/hours. I was very specific on what my availability was. If my employer chose to employ me on this basis, when what they really wanted or needed was a full-time worker available at their whim 7 days a week, then I feel that this is their error, not mine.

    It's a difficult question. Personally, I would answer it to say that you are not required to disclose personal information as long as it does not impact your employer. You are within your rights to wait until later negotiations on employment and say that due to personal commitments, you would like to finish earlier on Fridays, and that you would be happy to do a little extra each of the other days in order to make up for this, but that it's a commitment you have kept for many years and are unable to back out from.

    That's my opinion, I hope it gives you perhaps a different perspective to consider.

      That's a difficult situation rungirl. Not sure how to handle that, hope you work it out.

    I agree with rungirl - at offer and before commencement seems the most appropriate.
    They have chosen you, and they want you. The later in the process, the more likely they are to accomodate you and not exclude you.

    Too early and they may consider someone with more flexibility. Wait until the first day, and you may be considered sneaky or not forthcoming.

    It might also be worth consulting with your medical professional about alternative days - if practical. Having some flexibility in the appointment may help. But then, how productive people are on Friday afternoons is debateable.

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