1 | How should one decide to reveal an illness during an interview
this question: "Does my illness impact my ability to do this
job?" If it does, then you're going to need to discuss some
aspect of this sooner or later to ensure that you can do the work.
If it doesn't, then it depends upon your emotional needs to have
other people know about this facet of your life. If it doesn't impact
your work life now but becomes a problem later, discuss it then.
Be sure to make it clear that this wasn't the case when you were
| What is the risk of not telling them during the interview
process (ex. They think I am deceptive.)
If you know
that your chronic illness does impact your work life (i.e. doctors
appointments, need specific physical accomm-odations at work, extended
periods away from work, etc.), you could create resentment once
you're on the job and then disclose. Your boss might consider you
untrustworthy and you will have to hard to work to prove that you
are to be trusted. You also don't get the opportunity to assess
how "employee friendly" this organization really is. Do
you want to work someplace where your personal needs are seen as
a burden, rather than a matter of course?
Whereas, if you do disclose during the interview, you're all on
the "same page" at the time of hiring; an employer will
recognize that your disclosure shows your interest in being a solid
member of the team.
3 | If I
don't tell an employer about my illness during the interview, and
then am hired, when do I explain and what is the best way to go
It's your responsibility
to accomplish your job. When your illness is preventing you from
getting your job done and you need something from your employer
to enable you to get the job done, that's the time to talk about
it. Be matter of fact: "This is the situation and this is what
I need in order to do my job." Emphasize that you can do the
job with minor accommodations.
4 | If I end up not being able to work the expected amount of
time (such as 40 hours) due to my illness, but financially need
to be working, at what point should I resign, or should I just wait
until I am let go? What's worse for my "record" that will
affect future job possibilities?
Note: this can
also be an "ADA" issue - there are laws protecting workers
who become ill while on the job - the employer has to make accommodations.
This is not my area of expertise, but these are my suggestions:
This is not a one size fits all situation. The best option would
be to find a way to do the job in a more flexible manner that fits
your needs. Think creatively, prepare the options, and go to your
employer with some solutions, so it doesn't become his/her headache.
If your employer won't be flexible, don't work past your effectiveness,
because the worst outcome is to lose your job (for your self-esteem
and for your job record). All experts say it's better to look for
work while employed. And, it's better to leave a job when your employer
still thinks well of you. But, in reality, sometimes you just can't
find something else and you need that paycheck.
5 | Any other advice?
If you choose
to disclose during the interview process, don't make that the first
or even second thing you talk about. Why? You're interviewing because
you believe you can do the job. Your illness is a secondary issue.
Wait until they know you, want to hire you and you are in the negotiating
phase. Then describe it in "matter of fact" terms, stating
how it this impacts your work life and what you do to ensure it
doesn't get in anyone's way. =
Rosalind Joffe has lived 25 years with MS and is the Founder of
where she coaches people with chronic illness on how to thrive in
the workplace. Sign up for her free newsletter for helpful information
and "news" about illness in the workplace or free tele-seminar
events. Call 617-969-1930.