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ADHD at Work

Disclosure at interview?

I’m sure everyone at my campus knows about my ADD because I have been disorganized and sometimes the last person to submit work assignments. But I have also been finding digital tools to help me manage my tasks and stay on track. When I finish the courses I am working on, I plan to pursue an administrative position in my school district. The trouble is my past record, and some of the administration-level people at my school are quick to throw people under the bus when interviewers refer to them.
—> So, here is my question: do I keep quiet about my ADD at an interview and hope nobody stabs my back, or do I disclose it as a disability - and describe how I have adjusted to it? Can I claim discrimination if the disclosure keeps me from getting the job?


I remember having to fight against that old “past record.”  Fortunately, I was in a very understanding community (I was a graduate student in Clinical Psychology when I got my initial diagnosis), and they came to view me in terms of before and after.  But my mentor always spoke about “impression management”, that being that certain people may view any misstep as a sign of the “old me” coming back, whether or not that was valid or appropriate.  Even well-meaning people may have a subconcious bias that they are not even aware of. 

I have not had a lot of job interviews since then, having been fortunate enough to land into a dream job after getting my Ph.D.  Ironically, I think that is the only interview in which I DID disclose, but because it was very relevant to the work.  I think if you really believe that the interviewer is aware, I’d go after acknowledging past problems and how you have overcome them. But I would only do that if I suspected they may already be aware.  I would think it would be next to impossible to prove that the disclosure kept you from the job, unless they flat out stated that to you.

Posted by bluesmessiah on Aug 04, 2014 at 6:56pm

Let’s see… How do I couch this tactfully?

D-O N-O-T   U-N-D-E-R   A-N-Y   C-I-R-C-U-M-S-T-A-N-C-E-S

Posted by LakeLife on Aug 04, 2014 at 7:16pm

There is a risk of disclosing ADHD.  It would be better to find out how to manage your ADHD symptoms/behaviors so that you can be successful in the workplace.

Find out what your strengths are - put your energy there.
If you know the work you’ll be doing uses most of your weaknesses then it might not be a good fit.

Determine what your limits are as well.  What things may cause workplace issues.  (time management, organization, focus, motivation, procrastination, etc.)

A job that utilizes your strengths most of the time will likely be a job you’ll enjoy and be successful at.

Posted by coachwithheart on Aug 04, 2014 at 7:35pm

Seconding @LakeLife’s comment…

DO NOT DISCLOSE! Since you’re just starting off, and you’re obviously younger than I am…you might be under the impression that people will understand. Since I didn’t know I had ADD when I was your age, many employers just thought I was flaky (while I secretly wondered why I couldn’t get my shit together.) wink In general, it’s best to play your cards close to the vest.

Whenever you need to work with an employer on things that might fall under the accommodation umbrella, it’s best to frame your needs as an individual…such as, “I find I work best in a low traffic area,” or, “when completing expense reports, it helps me to listen to music or work from home.” Unfortunately many potentially view disclosure of ADD as carte blanche for potentially bad behavior down the road.

Just as you wouldn’t walk in to an interview proclaiming that you have diabetes and need to take insulin shots, don’t mention the ADD.

Posted by firesheep67 on Aug 04, 2014 at 7:58pm

While I agree with most of what you’ve said, and certainly for this person, I do think a blanket “Do not ever disclose” is far too strict. I know for myself that my self-disclosure probably HELPED me get the job.  In general, your advice is sound.  But I do believe that there are situations in which self-disclosure at interview can be beneficial.

Posted by bluesmessiah on Aug 07, 2014 at 1:57pm

I am an Senior HR Professional with ADHD. I would suggest that you do not disclose that you have ADHD. I would focus more on the stories you tell in the interview to create a positive impression. If you have had prior experiences where interviewers have impressions of you or past performance reviews that will be reviewed you can discuss the situation and what tools you implemented to solve the problem. This will show that you are able that you learn, grow, and improve with feedback. You can discuss that you took a look at the work situation and realized your changes were related to distraction, a need for a better system, written instructions versus quick verbal instructions etc.. Treat each situation like “a learning opportunity”.

You can also master your stories to be focused on you positive gifts. For example, “I am a creative thinker and I see connections others do not which makes me a very good problem solver, innovator and strategic thinker.” I have experimented with task management systems to keep my innovative and creative mind focused and I have really developed my gifts. etc…

Disclosure will most likely cause challenges in the process. An interviewer may think you are looking for legal protections as a protected class. They may be of the school of thought that ADHD is an excuse not to take accountability for challenges, and they may even be of the school of thought that it isn’t a real disability.

I believe that we all have different preferences and needs in the workplace regardless of a disability and we can ask for what we need because managers should want to assist you in being successful.

If you need a little help focusing on your strengths I suggest that you check out StrenghtsFinder 2.0. It’s an awesome book and can help you master your stories

Good Luck!

Posted by ADHD_HRGAL on Aug 14, 2014 at 7:48pm

Wonderful advice! Thank you all so much! grin

Posted by MrsQ on Aug 18, 2014 at 1:24am

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