Information & advice

Hidden Disability and job interview preparation

In most cases a hidden disability should not affect career prospects. However, the impact of it on people’s lives varies a great deal and decisions on employment should be based on each individual’s circumstances. Below are some questions you may be asking yourself?

How do I prepare a CV?

Be sure to get advice on preparing your CV as trends do change. The CV is your introduction to a potential interviewer.

Remember there may be hundreds of people applying for the same job so your CV will need to stand out and be eye-catching. The following are the general principles to keep in mind.

  • Keep it concise
  • Include contact details
  • Educational achievements and work experience should be listed – start with most current and work backwards
  • The cover letter should include why you think you might be suitable for the position

How should I prepare for the interview?

If you are called for interview, your CV has done the job it set out to do. You have introduced yourself successfully and they want to meet you. Now for the interview, potential employer can ask many questions but the bottom line they need to assess three things:

Can you do the job? – They will talk about your CV and experience

Will you do the job? – They will assess you performance at the interview in relation to your past experience

Will you fit in? – They will assess how well you will fit into and work with an existing team

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – so prepare with the above in mind.

What about my disability?

If you have been called for interview it is to assess whether you can/ will do the job and fit into the team. The interviewer is focusing on and assessing your abilities so should you.

Should I disclose my disability?

The choice is yours; you are not legally obliged to disclose a medical condition. You cannot be asked in an interview if you have a hidden disability or medical condition. This question can only be raised at a medical examination. If you do disclose then the interviewer has the right to question you about your medical condition.

The question as to how you disclose will be dealt with below in the ‘pros and cons’ section.

If I disclose will it affect my chances of employment?

Disclosure of your epilepsy should not affect your chances of getting the job. The main concern for the potential employer would be the health and safety implications of the disability. Employers have a duty of care and are expected to ensure the safety of all employees. If there are concerns regarding possible health and safety issues the potential employer would have to investigate these. However, there is a possibility that employers can base their decision on disclosure of a hidden disability at an interview which is an example of covert discrimination.

How should I disclose my disability?

If you do decide to disclose a hidden disability you need to be able to describe it in as positive a manner as possible. The question as to your ability to do the job is not necessarily affected by a hidden disability but to someone who knows nothing about that disability there may be some concern.

What should I say about my disability?

You should be prepared to describe in simple terms:

  • What is the disability?
  • How it affects you?
  • What supports you might need (if any) to work safely within the workplace
  • The possible impact of the condition (if any) on you not being able to attend work
  • What information colleagues might need to know to ensure your safety (e.g. having a seizure)

Be prepared for questions the interviewer may ask which may come from their lack of knowledge of the condition.

What are the Pros and Cons of disclosure?

WHEN: On the application form
OPTIONS: In the medical section you could tick the appropriate box.You could enclose a letter from your doctor stressing your ability to do the job
ISSUES: You may experience peace of mind because the employer knows about your condition and you would not have to broach the subject for the first time.There is potential for discrimination. You may not be called for interview if an employer has misconceptions or lack of knowledge about the condition
  • At the interview (1st or 2nd)
  • At the beginning
  • At an appropriate time during the interview
  • Before the interview is completed
ISSUES: You would have the opportunity to stress your abilities face to face with an employer and would be in a position to answer any questions about your epilepsy in an appropriate way.
Some people feel that the prospect of having to declare their condition in this way would be so stressful it may affect their performance in an interview
WHEN ISSUES: Once the job has been offered
This could lead to distrust with the employer if they feel that you were not honest with them in the beginning.
WHEN ISSUES: After you have started the job
You have a chance to prove yourself so the disclosure may be easier
This could lead to distrust with the employer if they feel that you were not honest with them in the beginning. There is also the possibility that your disability may reveal itself before you get the chance to discuss it.

How Headway can support you?


Headway has a dedicated Community Re-Integration team that works with individuals on a 1:1 basis on a number of identified employment goals. This service provides vocational support to individuals with an acquired brain injury and potential employers, acquired brain injury awareness training, career guidance, vocational assessments, advice and support in relation to grants, benefits and entitlements and the creation of Individual Employment Plans, which ensures a smoother transition back into the world of work and a higher degree of success while back in the world of work.

We also run a Jobs Club Programme over a four-week period, twice a year. This programme has been specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals living with an acquired brain injury who are interested in returning to employment, further education or voluntary work. Our Jobs Club Programme is a system used to support people with disabilities to find and secure a job of their own choosing in the open labour market. Headway believes that every individual has the right to work. However, individuals living with disabilities sometimes face a lot more barriers when it comes to finding, securing and keeping a job compared to other working age adults.

Headway Jobs Club Programme can help an individual to:
•       Write a CV
•       Complete job application forms
•       Find suitable work experience and work placements
•       Search for jobs and give you job coaching
•       Learn and practice interview skills

Once you’ve got a job, our Community Re-Integration Team will keep working with you to make sure you:
•       Can travel to work by yourself safely
•       Have any ‘reasonable accommodations’ made in the workplace
•       Understand your work benefits and tax credits
•       Continue learning new tasks and skills

Headway don’t just want to get you a job – we want you to keep it and have the chance to develop and improve in your role. The learning from the Jobs Club Programme initiatives has proved that many individuals with disabilities who are excluded from employment can join the workforce on the open labour market when the focus is on their abilities, and individual support needs. The role of employers has changed through a growing awareness of and experience with supported employment. Employers who have experienced diversity in their workforce are more open to employ persons with a disability.

Headway Jobs Club Programme has made paid work possible for persons with disabilities who, in the past, were perceived as unable to work. It enables them to earn an income, develop their skills and learn to recognise their abilities.

Headway have a new booklet ‘Returning to work after a brain injury’. It has lots of practical tips and advice for employees and employers. Click here to download a copy.

How Epilepsy Ireland can support you?

Epilepsy Ireland

Epilepsy Ireland provides, as its main service, a comprehensive information service for people with epilepsy, their families, health professionals, teachers, schools, employers and the general public. Information is a crucial factor in overcoming fear and ignorance.

We run events in all regions, ranging from talks, information sessions and seminars to family fun days out. We also run awareness raising events for National Epilepsy Week which this year runs from May 15th -19th. Our National Conference each year (2017 date to be confirmed) brings you the most up-to-date views of epilepsy from both national and international experts in the field.

Training in epilepsy awareness is also available to employers upon request.

Our Employers pack or Booklet can be obtained by calling our Head Office on 01 4557500 or talk to our Training Manager Paul Sharkey about employment issues. Additionally, Epilepsy Ireland provides a dedicated employment section on our website.