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How to Raise Health Issues in a Job Interview

25 Dec 2023 11:06 PM | Mariana Fradman (Administrator)

How to Raise Health Issues in a Job Interview

By: Bruce Hurwitz

Twice this happened to me:

I was invited to speak (the first time at a local university and the second at the New York Public Library) on conducting a successful job interview from the perspective of the applicant. The question that was asked was simple: How to raise the issue of a medical condition for which the applicant will require a “reasonable accommodation,” which, according to the law, an employer must provide to an applicant suffering from a medical condition.

I’ll use actual examples:

One employer was located on the second floor of a “landmark building.” Landmark buildings are building which, for whatever reason, local authorities have designated as “landmark.” This means no changes can be made to the structure without government approval. And when I say “no changes,” I mean “no changes.” In one case, the owners could not even change door knobs without official permission!

The applicant for the position with the employer on the second floor used a wheel chair. He neglected to mention that when the employer called to set up an initial interview. If he had, he would have been informed that there was no elevator. It was most assuredly not a “reasonable accomodation” for the employer to install an elevator or a chair lift leading to the second floor (even if by a miracle, and it would have taken a miracle) the government would have approved it. Needless to say, there was no interview.

But that was an extreme case and, frankly, a foolish job applicant.

The other cases I dealt with were simple. These concerned veterans. Most people think their problems are greater than they really are and veterans are no different. One had been shot in the knee and needed to sit at a desk that would enable him to stretch his leg out. Another could not tolerate bright lights and needed to wear sunglasses indoors. And a third could not sit with his back to the door. None of the employers for whom they were interviewed cared. The “accommodations” which they required were perfectly “reasonable,” and were immediately granted. The same thing was true for those dealing with a mental health issue and needed to be able to call their mental health professional occassionally or at regularly scheduled times. (One employer said to a candidate in that situation, “Don’t worry about it. You have to be crazy to work here!” Everyone laughed and, by the end of the day, he was hired.)

At the speaking engagements I previously mentioned, the director who invited me to speak at the university, and my two co-panelists at the Library, all advised that persons requiring a “reasonable accommodation” should raise it once a job offer had been made. I vehemently objected. Here’s why:

Just as job applicants learn everything they need to know about a company’s decision making process from what they experience being an applicant (and, hopefully, becoming a candidate), so too do companies learn what they need to know about an applicant, especially their values, from how they behave during the interview process. That’s why there are multiple interviews and multiple interviewers.

Let’s consider the situation when at the end of the process, when an offer has been made, the candidate (who has advanced from being just an “applicant”) surprises everyone by announcing that they require a “special accommodation.” If the employer, in my opinion, is smart, they will immediately withdraw the offer. Why? Not because of the applicant’s needs but because of the flaw in their character. If they waited until literally the last moment to provide what is called “material information” about their needs, it is safe to assume that they will surprise potential clients, at the last moment, with information they, the potential clients, required at the start of the process to reach an informed decision. No one likes surprises, not potential clients, not actual clients, oh, and yes, not employers! (And in this case, the employer may rightly suspect that the applicant was setting them up for

While we work with everyone, our mission is to promote the hiring of veterans and first responders.  Please consider us for all your staffing, career counseling and professional writing needs.

How to Raise Health Issues in a Job Interview | Employment Edification (

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