Things You Must, Should, and Should Not Disclose
“If you lived in the wild, you’d need to know how to make fire to survive. But you live in an urban world, and you need to make money. That means you need a job, and the only way to get a job is by turning a job interview into a job offer.” – Martin Yate
Not too long ago, we wrote a piece for Employers. The goal was to assist hiring managers understand what they Should and Should Not Ask in Interviews. At DyNexus Recruiting, we don’t only help our clients with recruiting, staffing, and hiring. We also help our prospective candidates to interview effectively and successfully. We want you to get the job. So, in that effort, we offer you our tips on things you must, should, and should not disclose during an interview.
Things You Must Disclose
Criminal Convictions. While it’s not an absolute guarantee that this blemish on your record will keep you from your employment goals, it will keep you from them if you fail to disclose this information. Almost all companies perform background checks as part of their interview process. If you have one, they’ll find it. If they find it without you disclosing it, that will significantly diminish any chances you had of landing the job.
Work Eligibility. You don’t have to produce ID or Visas during the interview. But you do need to honestly answer whether or not you are legally eligible to work in the city, state, and country of the job. You also need to assert that you are able to provide documentation as such.
Age. Now hold on a second. It is illegal for them to ask how old you are. Some even try to get tricky and ask what year you graduated college or how long you’ve been in the workforce. You do not have to answer ANY of those questions and it is illegal for them to discriminate based on age. However, there are some general exceptions. Anyone dealing with alcohol must be 18 years old to serve and 21 years old to prepare. You must disclose if you are of legal age to perform the duties of the position. But that’s it.
Things You Should Disclose
Disabilities. Most companies have certain physical requirements depending on the duties. For example, the ability to lift objects up to 50lbs, the ability to be on your feet for long durations at a time, etc. There are many laws in place to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. You are not required to disclose this information, especially if it will not impede your ability to perform the duties of the job. However, there can be advantages to making your disabilities known and how the company can best accommodate you. According to Eve Hill, a disability rights attorney, “In the best outcomes, you become the guide on how to do this well.”
Pregnancy. This, like disclosing disabilities, can be tricky. If you bring it up too soon, it might be an excuse to discontinue the interview process. It shouldn’t be, but it could be. If you bring it up too late, it might seem as though you were hiding it. It could negatively impact the rapport you have spent so much time building with your new employers. The best advice is to be honest about it. It’s the “when” that you must decide. Carrie Kerpen wrote a great article to help you decide what’s best for you.
Vacations / Appointments. Every company has different policies on how much vacation time you get and when you’re allowed to take it. If you have already booked a vacation or made an important appointment, you should let your potential employer know before accepting the offer. I’m not aware of any laws dictating when to disclose this information. But, if you accept a job offer that includes a week of vacation after 60 days of employment when you have a 10-day trip planned for two weeks into your new job, I do know it can be awkward.
Things You Should Not Disclose
“I’m really nervous.” While that may be true, employers are looking for self-confidence. You should refrain from appearing cocky or arrogant, but conveying that you are ready to accept the challenges of the position. Everyone gets nervous in interviews. Even your interviewer. But don’t say it and try not to show it. Focus on your strengths. Focus on the job.
Personal Issues. Kristen Zierau, director of executive recruiting at JMJ Phillip advises, “The company evaluating you for employment doesn’t need to know how messy your divorce was or that you are struggling financially.” It’s not that they are heartless or don’t care. It’s just not relevant to the job. Their sole purpose is to assess your ability to perform the duties of the position and to fit with the company culture.
Politics and Religion. While this is one of the number one rules to avoid potential animosity in any situation, there are some obvious exceptions. If you are applying for a job with a political party, clearly the interview should be all about politics. Likewise, seeking employment at a private school or a church, they are going to want to discuss your religious beliefs. Other than that, leave it out of the interview. And, it’s usually a safe bet to leave it out of any workplace setting.
Previous Salary. This is a mistake I’ve made in my younger years. You are not required to disclose any previous salary. In fact, doing so can hurt you. You should always be paid what you are worth, regardless of what you’ve made in the past. If you haven’t been making what your position is worth, continuing to disclose that information can potentially keep you from your earning potential. Gemma Paech, Ph.D. wrote a great article about how to gracefully sidestep this question if it comes up in an interview.
There have been numerous articles written about things you must, should, and should not disclose during an interview. We’ve referenced a few of them in this blog. There’s plenty of advice on things you should always say in an interview. Make sure to tell them you know about the company. Tell them why you’re excited about this job. Be prepared with questions related to the job. There is just as much advice on what never to say. “I hated my previous job / boss because . . . “ When asked about your experience, don’t tell them, “It’s on my resume.” Don’t ask what the company does.
The lists go on and on as there is endless advice on how to successfully navigate an interview. But most of those articles are more tactical and calculated with a specific purpose towards obtaining the job. We just wanted to give you an overview of three very important classifications of interview questions. That’s why we compiled this brief list of things you must, should, and should not disclose during an interview.