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Interview - how much personal info would you give?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by kkimirwin, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. kkimirwin

    kkimirwin New commenter

    I have an interview this week.
    I have been out of teaching for 4.5 years and have just started doing some supply again.
    Really wasn't expecting to get shortlisted and I'm going to give it my best shot.
    The main reason for having a break from teaching was that I experienced a series of five miscarriages over the course of two years (three within the second trimester).
    This clearly took its toll on me and I felt like I needed a change.
    We already had two children prior to this, never found out why it happened and decided to stop trying.
    The last miscarriage was 5 years ago.
    I am expecting to be asked why I left teaching, and my gut instinct is to be honest.
    I have no problem talking about this with other people but is it professional to mention it?
    Thank you
  2. carriecat10

    carriecat10 Established commenter Community helper

    I don't think it's either professional or not to mention it, it is your personal choice. You can be honest without giving a detailed account. Perhaps you could say that you have had some health issues which are now resolved if you prefer not to. Good luck!
    agathamorse and kkimirwin like this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I'm not sure if you would be asked. I always thought all candidates had to be asked the same questions, unless an answer required a follow-up question.
    Should you be asked I think a shirt' due to family circumstances' would be sufficient plus carriecat's suggestion of the additional of 'which have now been resolved'.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If asked, but like @Lara mfl 05 I don't think you will be, then you could say "I had a terrible couple of years with 5 miscarriages and just needed some time to get myself together. I'm now excited to be able to re-enter teaching full time and am looking forward to it."

    If you aren't asked, then don't offer the information. If you are asked then give as much detail as seems right, in the moment. I would be reasonably specific though. If you are too vague, people might wonder what you are hiding.

    Best of luck.
  5. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Dear @kkimirwin I am really sorry for what you have gone through.

    Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful to ask prospective employees about their health and previous sickness although schools always do this.

    My belief is that your personal medical health information is that - personal. I would say a half truth, such as you wanted to spend more time with your children and that now they are in KS2/KS3 etc. you feel you are now more focused to return to teaching.

    I would call up the union for advice so that if you asked directly, you are free to defer the answer. I can see of no reason why the school may need to know this and bringing up this chapter in your life, may trigger an array of negative emotions which may impact the way you are perceived.

    Congratulations on getting an interview. Focus on planing your lesson and organising what you are going to wear, how you are going to fix your hair etc. in short, focus on how you are going to wow them.

    From now on, just focus on all the positive outcomes that may arise.

    If it doesn't happen, remember it wasn't to be and there are other opportunities.

    The best of luck!

    kkimirwin and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. cellerdore

    cellerdore Occasional commenter

    I think the amount of information you give is completely up to you: give how much you feel comfortable with.

    One thing to consider: saying you were off for "medical reasons" might start to ring alarm bells about work-related-stress for the managers.

    That being said, only talk about what you are comfortable talking about. Best of luck.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    No they don't. None have ever asked me until after contracts have been signed and so on.

    The questions are only asked as part of a health questionnaire after appointment to ensure fitness to teach and to assess any requirements for disabilities and the like.

    Even then, sickness is generally only asked for the last 3 years at most, so the OP will be fine there as well.
    Lara mfl 05 and kkimirwin like this.
  8. kkimirwin

    kkimirwin New commenter

    Thank you for all the replies, particularly @catbefriender - your post made me smile. I think I am going to mention it if asked but vaguely and I won't go into details.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Every school I have applied to as asked me about my illnesses and time off taken for sickness and I have had to tell them that I am not supposed to be asked as a prospective employee. It is not unlawful not to disclose your disability i.e. you don't have to disclose your disability, but it is unlawful to ask a prospective employee about their disabilities. I guess it depends on boroughs and cities etc. But in my experience, I have had too many HR departments wanting to know TOO MUCH information about my personal medical history before even being offered an interview. One HR even had the audacity to tell me that if I didn't disclose, they wouldn't offer me an interview. I said if I told you, would you offer me one?

    I have spoken to the union on this matter many times and raised this at conferences and have managed to have schools sanctioned by the LEA over this. Employers are not to ask information pertaining to martial status, familial status i.e. if you want to have more children, health issues other than you being fit to work etc. This is to protect BOTH the employer and the prospective employee because by knowing these things and then rejecting an applicant could mean that the school could be subject to a claim of discrimination.

    So as I said, schools are always requesting this information and with my local union, we managed to get these questions off the LEA application forms, but now there are so many academies, they can ask whatever they like and there is no agency to intervene.

    I would avoid mentioning anything about your previous problems because they may begin to worry about you having major problems pertaining to that in the future. So what they don't know, can't harm them.

    Keep your personal medical history, personal.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    That's an enduring recruitment myth but it's not true. There does need to be fairness in the sense that all applicants are asked about the same range of competencies, asked the same questions about the person specification, and so have the opportunity to present their strengths across the full requirements of the job, but you can still ask individual candidates about things that only apply to them if it's relevant to their application.

    It's correct that employers cannot ask about your health/sickness record/disability, but of course at the point they ask why you took time out of teaching (which is a permitted question) they don't know that it was for a health/sickness record/disability reason. So the question isn't illegal unless you tell them it was for a health/sickness etc reason.
    agathamorse, Pomza and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  11. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    The problem is, the mere mention that you were ill for a period of time, some time in the past and even the fact that you are now completely cured, puts a lot of recruiters off, hence the need to make this form of questioning unlawful.

    The problem is, with a lot of recruitment, it is just a smoke screen in that the applicant they want is already in the school and the school has to justify training an UT or taking on a ST and the interview is a means to show that they opened up the possibilities to others, and the best candidate was the one they have already.

    That why when you are looking for a job you have to QTIP It


    Easier said than done.

    Giving personal medical information and then being rejected can lead to the jobhunter believing it was for that reason, when the reason they weren't given the job was the before mentioned, and this can lead to a vicious cycle of low self esteem.

    The interview is YOUR opportunity to WOW the recruiter. As I have said, in a Guardian article about 10 years ago a number of disabled jobhunters spoke about how interviews always turned into a questioning about their disabilities and their challenges. This has been true for me in that I have never been given an opportunity to WOW and have been placed on the defensive by SLTs harping on about the number of sick days disability/illness is impacting on their school finances and I am forced to ask, 'What exactly has this got to do with me?'

    And this is why I advocate NEVER disclose your disabilities, if they are invisible and if you don't require support at interview, until you are offered a job and don't harp on about historic long term illnesses that have no bearing on your current/long term well being.

    If you are sidetracked on your past illnesses/disabilities in interview, you are compromising your valuable WOWability allotted time.
  12. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    @kkimirwin I hope the interview went well last week.
    ATfan and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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