While a savvy employer would never cite family issues as a reason for rejection, they could easily find a more acceptable explanation for not hiring you. So there’s no point in taking that risk.
Q: I’m not sure how to tell a potential new employer about my family medical situation. My mother was recently diagnosed with cancer and will soon be starting chemotherapy. Although my siblings can handle most of her treatments, I will still need to help with some appointments.
After losing my job a few weeks ago, I am now the top candidate for a very desirable position. However, I have not yet informed the hiring manager about my mother’s condition. Should I discuss this during my final interview or wait and tell him after I start work?
A: To protect your front-runner status, avoid any mention of potential absences during the interview process. While a savvy employer would never cite family issues as a reason for rejection, they could easily find a more acceptable explanation for not hiring you. So there’s no point in taking that risk.
Once you’re on the job, your boss should definitely be told about these special circumstances. But since your leave requirements are apparently not excessive, don’t alarm him by overstating the problem. You just need to provide a realistic heads-up.
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For example: “I thought I should let you know that I may occasionally need a few hours off to take my mother to some medical appointments. My siblings are also helping out, so this shouldn’t happen too often.”
Don’t be surprised or offended if your manager has questions about the duration and timing of these appointments. Even the most sympathetic boss may have understandable concerns about how an employee’s absence will affect the business.
Finally, if your employer is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, take time to familiarize yourself with those provisions. As a new employee, you will not be immediately eligible, but that information could be useful in the future.
Submit questions to Marie G. McIntyre at yourofficecoach.com.