Have you gone to a job interview and been asked questions regarding your mental health?
If the answer is “No,” keep in mind that not all mental health questions have to be directly related to you.
In other words, some questions might be worded like, “Tell me about the time you supported someone?” Or “Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?” These are just a few sample questions hiring managers will ask to see where you are mentally.
Most people don’t think about the questions associated with mental health, especially during a job interview. Despite the importance of interviewing, very few people actually practice for it.
When people do practice for an upcoming interview, they typically do three things to prepare themselves for the big meeting: They usually start by developing a series of questions they think they’ll be asked based off of their resume & LinkedIn profile.
Then they prepare detailed answers to those questions. Finally, they conduct research on the company’s policies, work culture, or job duties so they’re well informed when they walk in for the interview.
Having a three-step process should get you the job, or at least a second interview. But what if you’ve been battling things like anxiety, depression, or even post-traumatic stress disorder – an issue that has become a widespread topic in the national discussion on mental health according to Bradley University. Then, preparing for an interview won’t become so easy after all, especially if you’re interviewing for your dream job.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with these dreaded talking points, and here’s how.
1. Familiarize Yourself With Certain Legal Rights
Believe it or not, there are a number of people who don’t even know their legal rights. In other words, individuals aren’t aware of the information they should and shouldn’t disclose during an interview. This means that if you mention your mental health issues during an interview, you’re doing so by choice, since you aren’t obligated to – no matter what the employer says.
Technically speaking, the only thing the employer is legally responsible for is making reasonable adjustments – like providing you with a flexible schedule – to help accommodate for your mental health symptoms.
Don’t lose hope.
There are a number of reasons applicants should feel confident turning in their applications and sitting in front of board members for an interview.
One reason, in particular, is because research shows that employers are now more aware of mental health problems than they were 10 years ago. So if you ever wondered if mental health was a top priority, the answer is yes.
This also means that employers will have better resources to make judgment calls when it comes to hiring the right candidate, despite their condition. Another reason, of course, is that you’re protected by law.
The Equality Act banned the pre-employment questionnaires that essentially forced potential candidates to answer questions specifically related to mental health, gender, religion, and race.
Nevertheless, a lot of what you choose to disclose depends on how you feel about your mental health and your relationship with your current or potential employer.
In the future, however, employers should be much more willing to put their employee’s mental health and well-being at the heart of their business. It’s just a matter of time.
Interview questions will all be different based on the type of job you’re applying for. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a part-time, seasonal, or temporary job, the employer might be more focused on your schedule as opposed to your work experience.
On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a nonprofit organization, then they’ll be more concerned about nonprofit skills.
Although employers shouldn’t ask you about your mental health – for legal and confidentiality reasons – you might still want to practice discussing topics that make you feel nervous or uneasy.
That said, you can rehearse for your interview at home by yourself or with a close friend or relative. You can practice addressing these difficult topics by using flashcards or by recording yourself and listening to it afterward.
Throughout the conversation, think about things that might stand out to you as a red flag – to you or the employer – and be prepared to address it.
For example, have you changed jobs a lot within the past five months? Or do you have long unemployment gaps?
These are concerns that might come up during an interview. So plan ahead, and make sure you’re ready to answer these questions. Depending on the job, you can let the person interviewing you know about some of the health issues you’ve had to overcome recently.
On the bright side, however, the employer might not even waste their time addressing those issues and instead focus on other areas. It still helps though to have an answer ready to go in the chamber – just in case you’re asked.
3. Think Long-Term
Most people are guilty of over-exaggerating their potential during a job interview and then figuring things out later once they’ve accepted the position. But when it comes to mental health, you want to be as a realistic as possible. In other words, agree to realistic goals and don’t set yourself up for failure.
That’s because mental health issues can affect you at any time, which could affect your ability to focus. But if your work is suffering and your employer doesn’t know about your mental health condition, they might believe that they hired the wrong candidate for the job – and take action soon after.
If, however, you’ve been honest with the hiring manager regarding your health condition, then they’ll be much more likely to help you. Whether it’s providing you with a flexible work schedule, or adjusting your workload so you aren’t as stressed.
Whatever the case may be, getting help from your employer during a time of need is never a bad thing.
So when you’re answering questions about future plans with the company, it’s best to stick to the parts of your vision that includes both your work ethics and the organization’s future goal as well.
This is another reason why it’s important to conduct research before you walk into a job interview. Knowing what the company you’re interviewing for wants will allow you to emphasize your ability to solve problems in a timely manner.
Thanks for the read! Did I miss anything? What are some other ways candidates can overcome mental health conditions? Feel free to leave a comment below.