How to talk about your mental health before an interview 

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How to talk about your mental health before an interview 

People are often frightened about talking about their mental health to prospective employers. They worry that they will be judged because of it or that it will adversely affect their chances of getting the job.

The good news is there is an increasing awareness that employers need to make the recruitment and interview process fair. They can put things in place to make it more manageable for interviewees suffering from mental health difficulties such as anxiety.

They know a person is more likely to perform at their best in the recruitment process if stress is at a minimum. Increasingly, employers will have trained staff dealing with recruitment for you to talk to ahead of an interview. If you are clear about what is expected of you and you have time to prepare, this will help.

If you are worried your difficulties will make the interview process hard to go through, have an upfront conversation. The employer should then be able to put in place adjustments to help with this.

Mother and daughter talking in sign to each other
How are you going to have the conversation?
  • Find out who person managing the interview process is. Ask to talk to them or email if that feels easier. If you are nervous about doing this, remember you are within your rights. Ask a friend to help you work out what to say.

  • Think beforehand about what would make the process more manageable for you in terms of your mental health symptoms. For example, asking for a pre-interview orientation, being interviewed later to avoid rush hour travel or at home using a digital platform. What has helped in the past?

  • Be prepared to explain what your symptoms are. You do not need to explain all the details but only how your symptoms might affect your ability to do the interview. It might be helpful to have a clinical letter from your health care worker to support you.

Below are some questions you might want to ask ahead of the interview:

  • What will each stage of the process involve?
  • How long will it last?
  • What do you need to do to prepare for it?
  • How will you be informed of the outcome of the interview and when?
  • Will there be any specific feedback?
Your rights and what to expect

Remember that employers are not allowed to ask about an applicant’s health during an interview until they have made a job offer. They can ask ahead of an interview but only to establish what they need to do to make the process practical for your needs and if certain essential functions need to be carried out for a job.

If you are offered a job, in the longer term you may need adjustments at work, so it is worthwhile addressing them early. How the company approaches these issues will give you an idea of what their culture is like and whether you really want to work for them.

Mental health is protected under the Equality Act 2010. This means that if you have a condition which affects your ability to carry out every-day tasks and which is expected to last or has been present for 12 months, employers are expected to make reasonable workplace adjustments. These might include avoiding rush hour travel, allowing more flexible working conditions and allowing time off for appointments. The recruitment process is also included.

Resources

Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for parents

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

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Resource

An emotionally healthy approach to GCSEs - A guide for teachers

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

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Resource

Asking for help

Tips for young people on when it’s time to talk about their mental health, or if they want to help a friend

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Resource

Depression booklet

Featuring useful facts, figures and information, this booklet also contains sources of help and what not to say to people experiencing depression

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Resource

Life after lockdown Wellbeing Action Plan

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have all been through enormous change and some of us may experience further uncertainty and change in the coming weeks and months

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Resource

Looking after yourself during your GCSEs - A guide for pupils

Packed with practical tips and ideas to support young people before, during and after exam time.

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Resource

Low mood poster

Poster created in partnership with Bank Workers Charity highlighting common causes of low mood, how to help yourself feel better and information on where to get more help.

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Resource

Making the move to university: care leavers

Read how to look after your mental health if you are starting university after being in care.

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Resource

Making the move to university: international students

Moving to university is especially tough for those who are coming from another country. Don't forget to make sure you prioritise your mental health, and read how to do so here.

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Resource

Making the move to university: LGBTQ+ students

Read our resource on how you can best take care of your mental health when making the transition to university if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

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Resource

Making the move to university: not fitting in

Read our guide on how to protect your wellbeing if you are starting university and feel like you may not fit in in any way.

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Resource

Making the move to university: students with adverse childhood experiences

Resource for those starting university who have had adverse childhood experiences such as trauma or abuse.

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Resource

Making the move to university: young carers

Read how to access support and prioritise your mental health while transitioning to university as a young carer.

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Resource

Patent and trade mark professionals

Protecting your mental health and wellbeing: A guide for patent and trade mark professionals

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Resource

Perfectionism

Aiming high can sometimes come at a cost. This eight page guide looks at ‘unhealthy perfectionism’ – how to spot it and advice on how to develop effective interventions.

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Resource

Starting University

This guide offers tips and guidance on how to get the best out of your time at university and maintain good mental health.

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Resource

Taking care of your mental health for occupational health practitioners

This resource for occupational health practitioners suggests ways for you to take time out of your day to focus on yourself in order to stay healthy and stress-free.

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Resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

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Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (aged 16+)

Our new Wellbeing Action Plan is for all young people attending sixth form or college.

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Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

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Resource

Work from home wellbeing action plan

This is a personalised, practical tool that we can all use whether or not we have a mental health issue. There are sections for you to complete, including a positive daily plan.

View resource

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