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Submitted by wendii on


(From Wendii: I am posting this on behalf of a member).

I am looking for a new position as either an IT Architect or as a
Senior IT Architect and my wife has a long term health condition which
we manage with medication. This medication has worked well for over a
decade. Last year we moved cross country and she had two spells, 6
months apart, where she needed in-patient treatment for a week for her
illness. We currently think that the medicine has stabilized her and
my family is trundling along.

During the interview/hiring process at what point do I discuss this
issue with a management team? HR? I know that for big companies I
have rights under the Family Medical Leave Act but they require a term
of service before you are protected.

Gk26's picture

 You say, "currently think that the medicine has stabilized her."  Based on that, I don't think the possibility of a potential medical incident that may or may not happen at some unknown date, if ever, needs to be brought up in an interview.  I don't have a similar situation in my family, but just about anyone "could" some time in the future.  I don't think not disclosing is an ethical violation.


Good luck with your search and your family's health.







pucciot's picture
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 WENDII (and member) :


It is not un-ethical to not state the obvious.

Everybody has family. Everybody gets sick.  Everybody has to take care of their spouse.  Everybody has to take care of their kids.

Emergencies happen all the time - anytime.


Everybody should go into a job with their best foot forward - in Hope and confidence.

If you believe that you can carry on the job because your wife is under control, then there is no problem here.

You are being honest.  That is the important thing.

IF a problem comes up later then address it then with your managers.

IF something can not be worked out and performance suffers - then you leave the job (or are fired)

Don't worry so much about the possible future.

Perhaps you become the darling of the company and they will make any accommodation to help you if something goes wrong...


*** I don't think that there is any Ethical violation unless there is a specific question that cannot be answered honestly.

If there is a question during the interview that asks if there is any reason to believe that there would difficulty in being away from home for extended periods of time without a chance of return (unless you quit), then I would say the question should be answered honestly, but circumspectly.

Something that says calmly, "My wife has a chronic health condition that is usually under control; a few days of travel should be no trouble for us.  However, long periods of separation may be problematic.  Does this position include such times ?"

If they say - you cannot accept personal calls - ever for any reason and ask if that is OK - then you may wish to explain briefly.

Or that you may never take unscheduled personal time to help a sick spouse.


I know from personal experience on this.  It is difficult to care for a spouse with a chronic health condition.  Sometimes work performance will suffer.   The only question is how much is tolerable for you and your organization ?

But - leave your worry and guilt for the future.

Today ! Right now !  Do you believe that you can do the job to their expectations?   That is the ethical question that you must answer.

 They don't need (nor deserve) to know all of your reasons why or why not.


mike_bruns_99's picture
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Good post, and I'll take a step further.  This is information the hiring manager does NOT want to know.

I look at this kind of information like Religion, Race, Color, Age, Gender, National Origin, Pregnancy Status, Disability Status, Sexual Orientation, etc.  The company shouldn't use any of that information to base a decision.  And, they want to take steps to make sure they aren't accused.   

I don't know if turning down an applicant due to a sick spouse is legal or not.  My guess is that it's illegal. As a hiring manager, it's much easier to defend a hiring-discrimination lawsuit if you never know the information to begin with.

And again, it has nothing to do with the ability to do the job. 

maura's picture
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The only other thing I would address during the hiring process is the structure of the medical benefits available from the company- and that would only come up when an offer is extended.  I assume you would need to know that your wife's condition is covered, and what portion of the possible expenses would be covered, and that could be a deal breaker if their health coverage is sub-standard...but again, I would not bring it up until an offer is extended and you enter the discussion of salary and benefits.

pucciot's picture
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As Maura states above, it would be a good thing to find out if your wife's needs are covered by the health and other benefits.

This, however, is a discussion for the health benefits people; not necessarily with the hiring manager.  - After an offer...

Again, you can be circumspect with the inquiry merely asking for a list of coverages and perhaps a telephone number of the plan administrator customer service folks.

This way you can read for yourself if her needs are covered or talk with the health plan people directly.  Nobody from the company needs to know exactly which condition you are interested in.