Job Interviews – Disclosing Your Disability

A CHASA volunteer shares her personal experiences with job interviews and having hemiplegia and epilepsy.

While job hunting, my decision of when and how to disclose the information of my stroke, hemiplegia, and seizures depends on the job I’m applying for and the questions I am asked in the interviews. As I volunteer my time for the CHASA, I do mention the work in my cover letter, which does indicate my stroke, but not my seizures. I have found that most employers really don’t make a strong connection between the wording in my letter and my actual abilities.

As far as interviews go, if I am interviewing for office jobs (administrative assistant, leasing director, etc.), I do not bring it up unless directly asked. However, when I have interviewed for Activities Director/Assistant jobs, I needed to come out and tell them as I was asked, ” For trips, we have a van driver. If they called in sick, would you be willing to drive the van?” I had to be honest and say I couldn’t. First, the van would need to be adapted so I could drive it with my left foot and second, I have seizures right now.

There have been times, I have just come out and told the person; usually in a phone interview/pre-interview. If they’re not open to give me a chance, they’re not worth working for anyway.

It’s your decision as to when, if, and how to tell them. However, it’s important it remember, you cannot lie on applications or in interviews. It cannot only cost you the job, but is a criminal offense. As far as telling them, if you wait, just remember it will take them time to adjust to it and it’s best to do it when they offer you the job. It’s probably not a good idea to wait until you show up for work on the first day.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents an employer from asking about the health conditions of a prospective employee. The ADA hopes to force employers to focus on an applicant’s skills rather than on their disabilities. There are a few exceptions to this guideline.  Read more about disclosing your disability.