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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
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Whether you are seeking new employment or exploring the possibility of being rehired after a period of disability, a job interview can be unsettling. It is difficult enough for people with no health history. The anxiety can be compounded when you are living after a diagnosis.

The good news is that the following time tested tips can help ace your next interview. Each of these tips are discussed in other sections of this article which are linked to below. 

  • Before the interview
    • Write your resume in a manner that covers any gaps due to your health history. Click here for information about writing resumes with a history of a health condition
    • Do research about the company before the interview so you have a speaking knowledge about the company.
    • Prepare to discuss:
      • Gaps in your resume 
      • Whatever comes up from doing a background search on yourself.
    • Keep in mind that you cannot be asked about your health. Still, it is wise to plan a response in case you are asked.
    • If you will need an accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job, consider when and what you will tell a potential employer about your health condition.
    • Do your best to get rid of any negative feelings or anger before going into an interview.
    • Think about the impression you want to leave.
    • If the interview will be via video instead of in person, check how you will look, including lighting. When responding, look into the camera, not the screen..
    • Practice.
    • Be on time, or even be early.
    • Dress for success.
  • During the interview
    • Common wisdom suggests that you not volunteer any health information during an interview if no one asks. That said, some people prefer to bring up the subject for a variety of reasons. The choice is personal. The key is to understand the pros and cons.
    • Let the interviewer lead the interview.
    • Do not bring up controversial issues.
    • Do not go on and on and on.
    • If salary is an issue, try not to specify a figure.
    • Ask questions about the company and the job. 
      • It is preferable not to ask about benefits at the interview.
  • Follow up after the interview.


  • Many employers will ask you to sign a form granting permission to check your credit history. If you have a credit history that would reflect your health condition (for instance, bankruptcy due to medical debt), consider using the request as an opportunity to talk explain your history in a way that will not impact on the job. For instance: "While my bankruptcy was due to medical costs, I no longer have a health condition which would affect my ability to perform the essential functions of the job we're talking about."
  • If you are given paperwork to complete which asks, or the interviewer asks: "Do you need a reasonable accommodation", a valid response is to ask: "What is a reasonable accommodation."  "Reasonable accommodations" are the words used in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). If you know the words, the odds are that you have a health history.  When a "reasonable accommodation" is explained, consider saying something like: “Now that I understand what the question means, based on the information I have, I don’t need any right now.” 
  • Feel free to ask questions about the employer. A job interview is as much as about your determining whether you want to work for the company as the employer deciding whether to hire you.
  • Before the interview, read Seeking New Employment.
  • When you get the job offer, read Should You Take The Job, before accepting the offer.

For information, see:

Plan A Response To Questions About Your Health

Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws, you cannot be asked about your current or past health. As part of this prohibition, you cannot even be asked how much time off you took under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and similar laws, or even how much sick time you used before.

If an employer does ask a question about your health:

  • You have to say something or an employer will be suspicious that you are hiding something.
  • Don't lie about your health (or about anything.) If you're hired after lying, you can be fired for lying.
  • Be confident in your response. The easiest way to do this is to practice. It works. Repeat your answer over and over in front of a mirror as you look directly into your eyes. Have a friend or family member ask you about your health. Give the answer. Keep practicing until you feel comfortable.
  • Avoid being defensive in your response.

If you are interviewing for a job with a new employer and don't want to disclose your health condition

Consider which of the following approaches works best for you:

  • Don't answer the question directly. For example, if an employer asks "Have you ever had cancer?" consider a response like: "We both know you aren't allowed to ask me that question, but I do not have any health condition which would prevent me from performing the job we're talking about."
  • Throw the question back at the interviewer with a question such as: "Is there something I should be concerned about?" or "Is that relevant to the job?" or "Why do you ask?" Try to keep the conversation good natured and friendly. The goal with these types of responses is to allow you to toss the question back at the interviewer to find out what they are really looking for. For example, the general health question may really be about your ability to do some specific task, such as lift 100 pounds.
  • Minimize your health history and include other reasons for being off work. Explain what makes your current situation different from the one during which you could not work. For example. "I had some medical issues to deal with and I got great care, so I'm ready to go back to work now. I feel great. I jog four times a week and I ride my bike 30 miles a week." Or "I was dealing with some physical problems, and caring for a family member during their last months, so I took some time off."
  • As soon as you can, end the topic and go on to the subject of the meeting: why you are able to do the job you are interviewing for, what a good job you can do, and why you want to do it.
  • Again, whatever you do, do not lie. Instead focus on your ability to perform the requirements of the job for which you are applying.
  • When you leave the interview, make notes about what happened in case you need to file a discrimination claim.

To learn more, see Work: Legal Protections At Work

If you are returning to an employer who is already familiar with your condition, or if you choose to disclose your health condition in the interview

  • Focus on your ability to perform the requirements of the job for which you are applying. Answer questions succintly (as briefly as possible) and immediately shift the focus to your skill set.
  • You may wish to have a letter from your doctor, prepared in advance, which indicates your physical ability to perform the job. The letter could also include statistics about the work ability of other people with the same diagnosis. The goal here is to educate the employer about your ability to perform the job and to eliminate any stereotypes that the employer may have about individuals with your condition.
  • An employer may not ask an applicant who has voluntarily disclosed that s/he has a health condition or history any questions about the condition, its treatment, or its prognosis. However, if you do voluntarily disclose that you have a health condition or history, and the employer reasonably believes that an accommodation will be required to perform the job, an employer may ask whether you will need an accommodation and, if so, what type. (To learn more, see Accommodations).
  • The employer also must keep any information you disclose about your medical information confidential.

Do Research About The Company Before The Interview So You Have A Speaking Knowledge About The Company With Which You're Interviewing

This is easier than ever to do with the internet.

If you're considering a large company, in addition to their internet site, you can telephone their public relations office and ask for information. A public company's annual report to the stockholders tells about its corporate philosophy, history, products or services, goals, and financial status. Press releases, company newsletters or magazines, and recruitment brochures also can be useful. Ask the organization for any other items that might interest a prospective employee.

Most government agencies can furnish reports that describe their programs and missions.

If possible, speak with current or former employees of the organization. In addition to telling you about the company in general, they can tell you about the corporate culture -- the way things get done. Is it a fit with the way you like to do things?

Many companies have internet chat rooms for their employees. You can learn a lot about an employer from chat rooms.

Background information on the organization may be available at your public or school library. If you cannot get an annual report, check the library for reference directories that may provide basic facts about the company, such as earnings, products and services, and number of employees. 

Common Wisdom Is Not To Volunteer Any Health Information During An Interview If No One Asks (but the choice is yours)

A job interview is not a confessional and it is not therapy.

The purpose of the interview is for the potential employer to find out what you can do, not what you can't do. You are a potential resource for the company, not a person begging for a job. An interview is also an opportunity for you to learn what you need to know about the current state of the company and the job.

The relationship is a formal, business one. An employer is not a friend.

If you are going to disclose your health condition, consider doing it after you receive the job offer or after you start work. Put yourself in the employer's position: if you had two applicants for a job, and they were equally qualified, would you choose the person with the health history or the one without it?

The following ideas may be helpful in making your decision whether to tell about your health condition before a job offer is made:

 Reasons some people tell about their health condition before receiving a job offer:

  • Helps weed out those interviewers or employers who will be unable to deal with your health history and evaluate you based on your credentials fairly because of their reaction to your health condition.
  • Helps you not waste your time trying to alter the perceptions of the interviewer.
  • Deals with the situation right way. It prevents the interviewer or employer from being surprised or uncomfortable later on if you need an accommodation to let you do your work.  Surprise could create a lasting barrier to long-term career success.
  • Allows you to feel honest, open and fair.

On the other hand, reasons not to tell include the following

  • It may mean you don’t get a chance to interview and present your qualifications.
  • Disclosure makes your health a relevant part of looking for a job, instead of your abilities to do the job, with or without an accommodation.
  • It keeps your health condition totally separate from your ability to do your job.
  • It gives an employer the opportunity to discriminate based on your health condition while being aware that discrimination is difficult to prove.

To Learn More

Prepare To Discuss Gaps In Your Resume

If you are asked about gaps in your resume, swivel. By "swivel," we mean to acknowledge what is being said, and then change the subject - in this case to the positive. Do not lie. On the other hand, you do not need to tell the full story. For instance:

  • "I was dealing with a family issue that is resolved now, and I am thrilled to discuss how my management skills can build the team and grow your business." 
  • "I realized that what I was doing didn't fulfill me so I took a step back to think about what would make me happy and I think my tech background would really be an asset not just for this role but for the company as a whole."

Practice swiveling in front of the mirror. Then practice with a family member or friend.

If You Will Need An Accommodation To Perform The Essential Functions Of The Job, Consider When And What You Will Tell Your Employer About Your Condition

Because of your health condition, you may need an accommodation to help you perform a job.

There is no reason to ask for an accommodation during the interview for a job.

Once a job offer or conditional job offer has been made, speak to your employer about any accommodation you may need. If you don't discuss it, you won't know if the employer can provide the accommodation you need. You could also wait until just after you start the job, but you will have lost time if an accommodation cannot be reached to permit you to do the job.

If you wait until after you have been trained for the position and then inform your employer of your need for an accommodation, you may find that you have an angry employer on your hands. 

Do Your Best To Get Rid Of Any Negative Feelings Or Anger Before Going Into An Interview

Try to avoid sending the wrong vibes to a potential new employer.

If you're having a bad day as a result of symptoms of your illness or any other reason:

  • Take the steps you normally would to avoid or lessen symptoms. For example, if you generally have a reaction to your morning medications, schedule an interview for later in the day or get up earlier. If this is not possible, consider any alternatives to lessen your symptoms. Your doctor of pharmacist may be a good source for this information.
  • Take a few minutes of quiet solitude before the interview and think about a prior accomplishment, either work related or not. If possible, remember how you felt about that accomplishment and allow those feelings to resurface.

Let The Interviewer Lead The Interview

While it's true that you are there to sell yourself, don't be so aggressive in your sales pitch that you keep the interviewer from talking.  It's important to listen as well. Some experts advise that at least in a first interview, spend only one-third of the time talking. 

Do Not Bring Up Controversial Issues

For instance: avoid such subjects as:

  •  Anger 
  • Family problems
  • Marital status
  • Past employment problems 
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Sex. 

If the interviewer brings up any of these subjects, answer as non-committally as possible and change the subject back to the job.

Do not trash, or gossip about, a former employer.

Don't Go On And On And On

Limit your speaking at any one moment -- say to two minutes. If the interviewer wants more information, he or she will ask. 

If Salary Is An Issue, Try Not To Specify A Figure

You may ask for less than the employer was willing to pay. Get the employer to mention one first. You're in a better negotiating position if you can wait to talk about salary until after you're made the offer.

If the employer insists that you propose a number, ask for the company's salary range.  If there is none for your position, ask for the salary range of workers who would be reporting to you. And be sure to ask for a performance and salary review in six months.

If the employer asks how much you made in your last job, if it wasn't the top of the range, you can respond with a statement such as: "The salary in my last job is not relevant because the job I did there was very different from what I'll be doing for you."

Kathy Strickland, an internationally renowned out-placement expert, suggests: "If they ask how much you made in your last job more than twice, or seem annoyed, then answer. Do not lie." Ms. Strickland also suggests that before the interview, in order to be comfortable with talking about money, practice saying the amount you earned in front of a mirror or on a videotape.  "Money is the most sacred topic in our society, even more than sex. We give ourselves away through cues other than the words we say, such as stammering. Talking about salary is a difficult thing for any of us to do."

If you want to set a value on a benefits package so you can get an idea of the full extent of an employer's offer, see Valuing Benefits. 

Ask Questions About The Company And The Job

When it's your turn to ask questions, have at least three questions ready.

Focus on issues that relate to the employer's needs.  Examples might be: "What kind of outside training would be helpful to my career at your company?" or "While I understand the position you need to fill, would there be additional areas where I could help?" 

Then, ask broader questions to get more of a feel for working for the company.  These might include things like "What is your average day like?" or "What is the corporate culture like -- the way things get done? Do people work mostly alone or in teams?"

You can than move on to more specific questions about the responsibilities of the position.

An important question to ask is about how you will be evaluated.

It is helpful to ask who you will be working for, who you will be reporting to, and who will be reporting to you.

It Is Preferable Not To Ask About Benefits At The Interview

It might make the interviewer think that you're more interested in what you can get out of the job than what you can do for the company. It's usually better to discuss benefits when or after a job offer is made.

If you do ask about benefits, don't inquire only about the health benefits. Express an interest in the entire benefit package - after all it is part of the compensation.

If the prospective employer brings up benefits, the benefits you should listen for, and the features to focus on, are described in Job Interview: Benefits To Focus On When Applying For A New Job.

Think About 3 - 5 Things Your Want The Interviewer To Remember About You

Just like professionals do on television, you can help steer what the interviewer remembers about you by working in the points you want the interviewer to know and to remember.

Think about what your strengths are, particularly in relationship to the job and the employer. 

Try to work those strengths into the conversation two times during the interview.

Perhaps one way is to tell a short story that shows your strength and why you are uniquely qualified for the job.

Think About The Impression You Want To Leave

Pay attention to how you look.  Dress conservatively. Be neat, clean, and well groomed.

Mind your manners.

Leave your cell phone home -- or at least turn it off. If you forget and it rings during an interview, excuse yourself long enough to turn it off. Don't take the call.

Good eye contact lets the interviewer know you're confident -- and interested in what the interviewer has to say.

Agreeing with statements made by the interviewer lets an interviewer know you share the same beliefs. 

Prepare For The Difficult Questions.


Following are some classic questions for which it is a good idea to have an answer ready before  going into an interview for a new job. While the answers depend on your individual situation, guidelines for answering are contained in the following: 

More information about this subject is contained in the Main Article in "To Learn More."


Practice with family and friends

Consider doing a mock interview with a friend or family member. If you video tape the interviews, you will be able to see for yourself how you come across. You can also show the video to other trusted friends or family members for a critique. Be careful who you show the video to: lay people can be unintentionally hurtful in their responses. Filter reactions through your own instincts.

For some classic interview questions and responses to consider, see Job Interview: Practice Questions and Answers.

Practice with an employer

When you think you are ready to do a real interview, consider doing a practice interview with an employer you don’t care very much about. It will help hone your answers and behavior.


Be On Time, Or Even Be Early

If necessary, get an idea of how long it will take you to get to the interview by testing whatever method of transportation you'll use to get to the interview. If you can, do it on a similar day and time to get used to the route. 

If you make a point of arriving early for the interview, you'll have a chance to relax and be more comfortable. 

If The Interview Is Via Video

Video interviews are becoming more common.

There are two types of video interviews: person-to-person where both you and the interviewer are live and can see each other, and a video interview where you answer preset questions without the presence of an interviewer.

In either case, the following tips can help:

  • If you do not use internet video often enough to be comfortable doing it, then practice until you are comfortable. Dress in the clothes you will wear for the interview.
    • It can take some time for people in a business context to feel comfortable seeing themselves on screen. 
    • Keep practicing until you get used to it and learn to relax.  Among other systems, Skype can be downloaded for free. 
  • Before engaging in the interview, check the lighting to be sure that you can be seen clearly - but not so bright that you look bad. 
    • If you do not have enough light near your computer, you can purchase an inexpensive work light from any hard ware store that can clip onto your screen or lap top. 
    • You can soften the lighting by putting wax paper over the light. Or a pink gel if you have access to a professional lighting supply store.
  • Before the interview:
    • Check to see how you look on camera.
      • If you have lost or gained weight due to your condition or a treatment, be sure your clothes look as if they fit. If clothes are too large, you can use the model's trick of pinning the clothes in the back.
      • If you look sallow or sick, experiment with make up that looks natural. 
    • Look closely at the background to be sure there is nothing you do not want an interviewer to see. 
      • Preferably, stage the background so it conveys an impression that you want to convey. For example, that you are a serious person, or that you have an interest that relates to the job. At least, be sure that the area is clean and neat. 
      • Be sure there is no medical equipment or medication in the background.
    • Alert everyone in the surrounding space that you are about to do a job interview and (a) do not interrupt you or (b) create distracting noise. 
    • If a telephone is nearby, do whatever is necessary so that the sound of ringing does not disturb the interview.
  • During the interview, it is okay to watch the speaker on the screen. However, always respond to the interviewer by looking into the camera to create the illusion of direct eye-contact. Do not watch yourself.

Follow Up After The Interview

Before you leave the interview:

  • Ask when and how you will hear.
  • Make sure you have the interviewer's contact information before you leave the interview.

Within 24 hours, write a thank-you note to the interviewer. If you forgot to include any vital information in the interview, include it in the letter.

Critique your performance in the interview honestly. Think about how you can make it better next time.

If you don't hear about the job within the time frame described by the interviewer, call to find out what's happening. It could just be that the deadline for a decision has been extended. 

Dress For Success. Here's How

What an interviewer sees when he or she meets you is the first impression. Since you don't get a chance to do it over, it helps to make it your best.

Tips by experts gathered together by MONEY Magazine include:

  • Plan ahead. Do not choose what you will wear at the last minute.
  • Try to figure out what the general dress code is for the organization. You can ask around,or check to see if the company posts photos of its employees online or on social media. 
  • When in doubt, go with neutral colors. According to MONEY:
    • Blue and black signify someone who is a team player. They also convey leadership
    • Gray gives the impression that the person is logical - which also shows he or she is organized
    • Brown suggests dependability
    • Orange indicates unprofessionalism.
    • If you want a pop of color, consider matching your eye color. For example, if you have green eyes, a pop of green in your tie or blouse will bring out your eyes and help grab the interviewer's attention.

If You Get Turned Down, Use It As A Learning Tool To Make Your Next Interview Better

Consider calling the interviewer and asking questions to help in your continuing search. For instance, ask: What factors led to the choice of another candidate? What could you do to improve your chances of getting a similar job?