Disabilities and Interviews


That’s the big MS question; how much to reveal or if to mention the MS at all.

I wear my thumb braces almost all the time.  I even sleep in them some nights when they are particularly sore.  Wearing them doesn’t really impair my ability to type or anything, and I cannot grasp very wide items one handed. The braces add strength to my hand.  Not that it’s a huge issue, but there are plenty of files I’ve worked on that were more than 4″ thick.  I think that I should have no real trouble with the thumbs, should someone bring up the braces.  Most people assume I have arthritis or carpal tunnel.  If no one asks about them, that’s great.  I suppose I wouldn’t wear them to an interview and then just show up wearing them when I start work. What could they say, right?

I’ve also just ordered a new cane with a different style grip.  I’m hoping it will be more comfortable in my hand than the cane I usually use.  I’m excited to try it out and hope it’s everything I want as I would like to use my cane more often than I do, but don’t because of my grip problems.  But I’ve fallen two more times and nearly fallen a third time and I guess it’s time I started using a cane regularly, especially on uneven surfaces.  People understand canes.  I don’t think anyone will ask about that.

As most of you already know, I have serious memory problems.  I wish there was a cane for it.  I honestly do not know how to answer the inevitable interview question: what is your greatest weakness?  I usually go with my memory (it’s always been poor), and then go into how I compensate for it.  Unfortunately I feel like I’m going to be lying to people if I tell them it is manageable, because I’m not certain that it is.  Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering to write something down.  If I don’t make a note of something I need to do, it will be completely forgotten.  I may even remember (wrongly) that I accomplished the task.  I’ve decided I will need a system of keeping track of all the various and sundry duties that are bound to come my way.  I received the suggestion once of keeping two different notebooks, one for doing one type of task and the other for other, less immediate tasks.  I suppose I could find another fault, but can’t think of any.

I decided the only way I can hope to achieve near success is to carry a tape recorder with me at all times.  Maybe I should hang one on my hip and flip it on all the time.  I know they have some really good recorders now that automatically start to record as soon as a voice is heard.  Unfortunately, I run the risk of recording something accidentally.  Not a good thing.  Though if I admit to having a disability and that this is my aid to help me do my job to the best of my ability, would they be ok with it?  How weird would I look, always recording conversations and discussions.  I know I will already use a recorder for meeting minutes, and dictation.  But I wonder about carrying the recorder all the time, as I do my notepad.  But bosses often bump into you in the hallway and ask something of you while you are off on another errand.  Those are the things that get forgotten.  I’d like to think I’ll manage somehow.

It’s a scary thing not knowing if I can trust my mind.

16 thoughts on “Disabilities and Interviews

  1. I guess you have to tell any new employer that you do have MS but I don’t think you have detail all your issues..If you do say something about them you can say they’re manageable and I think that is the truth. You do manage to type and talk and walk…albeit with a cane….The memory thing…. if you know how to manage it do you have to make it an issue? Just asking…You have to do and say what you think you have to.

    I know what it’s like to ‘trust’ your mind ..but trust your heart and belief in yourself..Diane

    1. I see all the negatives of being able to stay employed at a level I feel useful and productive, and which pays me what I need to make my mortgage. I applied for 15 jobs in the last two days. I’ll have to try harder to trust myself.

      1. When you say you applied for 15 jobs…Is that with giving your resume to them? Have you heard regarding an interview with any yet…although I guess that would be too soon for that.

        You’re of two minds …one that says you’re not sure if you can handle certain tasks and one who really wants to succeed…..Try to go with the positive. Of course I believe in honesty which I did when I applied for the first job after having a bad episode with my depression and ECT….However although I admitted to the depression …I didn’t think they needed to know of the ECT nor of all the details of how the depression manifested itself. nor of the treatment I had or was receiving.

        I’m not sure what I’m saying but I think you get the gist of it….Diane

      2. You’ve got it. I’m eager to go back to work at this point, but I’m afraid to bite off more than I can chew. Still I’ve got no choice, so I’m trying to apply for jobs that I would have applied for 7 years ago and hope I still have the capability I had then.

    1. Yes, that’s the one I ordered. I’m looking forward to receiving it any day now.

      I will probably go with my gut which usually says, “be honest.” I feel it got me into trouble with my last job. I was very honest with them and while they tried to be accommodating, my boss was pretty unforgiving of forgetfulness.

  2. so easy to go down the rabbit hole with the what if’s. i can understand wanting to be honest. that is however, not in your best interest. though employers are not supposed to be swayed by our disability, realistically we know that may or may not be the case. try to just take each interview as it comes and don’t anticipate problems. there is no law that you must disclose your disability and of course there is a law that they can not ask. just keep in mind that law is in place to protect you. good luck and trust that you will make what adjustments you need to as you need to.

    1. I guess I just need to relax and take it as it comes. Honesty is my usual mode, usually too much honesty. Luckily I am aware of the ADA laws so I know they’re not supposed to ask certain questions, which isn’t to say they won’t ask them. I’ve decided I won’t wear my thumb braces or bring my cane unless I can’t manage without. I usually can manage without for short periods of time. Why bring on the questions, right? Interviews are tough enough.

  3. That was a very informative and enlightening background you have shared my friend, I wish you every success in your life, you have obviously had many adjustments to cope with in life and from what I read, you are doing extremely well.
    I wish you much love and happiness.
    Aussie Emu

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