Could non-job related reasons cause ruining interview?
January 5, 2017 12:28 PM   Subscribe

So I just had a good interview, and I was invited again for a second round. The hiring manager and I were chatting at the end as the hiring manager was showing me out. I let him know that I have a cough and I apologized before the interview began. Towards the end he asked me how long have I been coughing, and I responded by saying that "I have been coughing for 2 months and it doesn't seem to go away." The doctors said that it is not bronchitis but many people would think that anyway it seems. Do you think the hiring manager is not going to hire me because he suspects I have bronchitis or some other coughing disease? He might be afraid that his entire staff will get sick! Although I cough a lot, I feel totally fine otherwise. Has anyone who is a hiring manager not hired anyone for similar reasons? I feel like I lost an opportunity, because as I shook his hand when we were saying good-bye, his face seemed as if it had some horror.
posted by pieceofcake to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He probably had the look of horror because he put together the fact you were shaking his hand and he'd just realized you might have coughed on it! Which is socially awkward, but not related to hiring.

He may have also realized that asking someone about a medical condition in an interview is against the good interview practices he should have known. Not only is discriminating against someone due to illness or any physical disability illegal, even implying it could be a factor in an interview could open you up to litigation. So no, it can't affect his ability to hire you, and excluding you on that basis would be a very bad thing.
posted by mikeh at 12:32 PM on January 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think the answer to your question as asked is absolutely "Yeah, non-job-related things can torpedo an interview."

An interview is a great chance to show your good points, and to evaluate a cultural/personality fit, but you also need to be on your guard and not give them a reason to eliminate you. This might include any NUMBER of things, including but not limited to health concerns. It sucks, and in many cases it's illegal, but it's true.

In that sense, you made an "unforced error" here by not passing it off as allergies or something.
posted by uberchet at 12:33 PM on January 5, 2017 [11 favorites]

Have you actually been turned down for the job already?

If not, why don't you put off worrying about why you didn't get it until you find out whether you got it?!
posted by penguin pie at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I worry about stuff like this all the time, too, so I feel your pain here. "Put[ting] off worrying" is not really A Thing for people like us. ;)

Anyway, hiring managers do sometimes make decisions on stupid, not-job-related things. So that is certainly a valid concern. That said, it seems most likely that he only blanched during the hand shake because he doesn't want to get sick.

If you don't get hired, I'd say you dodged a bullet. Someone who makes hiring decisions based on health issues is not going to be pleasant to work for.

Good luck on the job search!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 1:26 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about job interviews was, "Never let them make you feel too comfortable." I've found that in a job interview, it's best to be on high alert and assume that every question is a potential "gotcha" question, and consider your response accordingly.

I don't know whether you hosed your chances here, but you probably felt a bit too comfortable and gave them information you had no reason to give them. I agree that it's probably a bit early to start worrying about this, but from now on, it's probably best to remember not to let your guard down and that there's no reason to be 100 percent honest in all your answers. Of course you can't lie about material things, but you can certainly omit non-pertinent information like how long you've been coughing, and instead say something vague like "Eh, not too long -- just recovering from a bad cold."
posted by holborne at 1:41 PM on January 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

This doesn't seem like a big deal.

It seems like you have a long history of AskMe questions about anxiety related to work and job searching. If this is something that is causing you unusual levels of anxiety, have you considered therapy?
posted by phoenixy at 1:42 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I actually just got a call back, and they want to schedule a second round. Could this indicate it's a non-issue?
posted by pieceofcake at 1:52 PM on January 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think it indicates that you dodged a bullet (how closely it came to you is up for debate) and to not bring up your cough next time. If someone brings it up again, say, "For a little while, but it's getting better. I think it's the dry winter air." In other words, be non-specific and lie through your fucking teeth. Your interviewer doesn't need your medical history, and there's no reason to give anyone ammunition for deciding not to hire you, that isn't even related to the job. There's such a thing as TMI, and detailing the minutia of your cough to someone thinking of hiring you falls comfortably into that category.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:03 PM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

BTW, it could actually be the dry winter air making you cough, unless you live somewhere that has a warm, humid winter. Try a humidifier.
posted by Autumnheart at 2:05 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

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