Revealing Potential Medical Details in an InterviewBy Joan Lloyd
Dear Joan: I am currently seeking a new career opportunity; I have recently discovered news, which will affect a prospective employer with whom I secure an interview. We have just discovered my wife has cancer. It is difficult enough to secure opportunities in today's market and I have always stressed integrity and honesty as things I look for in associates and portray in my own behavior.
The question is when does one bring this up during the interview process? Most certainly, it will be an issue affecting attendance, when I am needed during medical care and on certain days when she just cannot make it while I am at work. It is also a concern for any prospects that may require relocation.
I am so sorry about your wife’s illness. And the added burden on you, in addition to trying to find a job, must be difficult. I hope my answer gives you a way out, without compromising your integrity.
I think telling a potential employer anything about your wife is premature. While it is caring and kind of you to want to be a caregiver who has to take off significant amounts of time from work, I’m not sure I agree with your logic.
Without knowing the seriousness of the situation, you may be painting a more serious picture than you need to. For example, she may react well to the treatment and not need your personal attention as much as you think.
If necessary, couldn’t you find a neighbor or friend who might be willing to help out with doctor visits? You could pay for their time. There are also many home health agencies that provide services such as driving someone to the doctor, getting prescriptions filled, fixing lunch, or simply just checking on someone. Our family used a service to help out when my father was ill, and he looked forward to the visits from this service. It was a godsend for me, as I couldn’t help out much during the work day. My clients wouldn’t appreciate frequent, last minute cancellations. A good compromise was developing a good working relationship and communication with his home health aide. A kind neighbor also helped out and checked on him.
I wonder what your wife thinks about this. She may experience more peace of mind knowing you were gainfully employed, rather than worrying that the money was running out because of her illness and your inability to get a job. In addition, if you become stressed out—as all caregivers are—how useful will you be to her if both of you are depressed and anxious?
Having a job can be not only a financial safety net, but a mental escape for you. If you are happy at work, and providing for your family, I suspect you will be able to keep a stronger mental attitude when you are with her. And she needs that right now.
If things progress to a point where you are needed at home, that is a different matter. Most organizations are willing to make accommodations for serious situations. Then a leave of absence, flexible hours, or part-time hours may be a solution. But an organization is not going to hire someone who declares that he is going to be the only care giver—with no effort made to bring in other resources first.