Interviewing with an invisible illness

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Happy Canada Day to all of my lovely fellow Canadians! I hope you’re enjoying your day off with family and friends! Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be a rainy day here in Toronto, so our plans of taking the pup to the Toronto Island have been postponed to another day (perhaps when my older brother is home from Japan next week!). We’ll be hanging around the apartment having a lazy day in, rent a movie, bake some of my boyfriend’s favourite cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip – which I can’t eat since they’re not Paleo, but I’ve been promising him these cookies for a couple weeks now!), and maybe play a board game and finish my novel.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently looking for a new job (I’ll explain what happened in my previous role in a future post as it’s quite a long story), and I had a second interview yesterday afternoon with a small Canadian company. I’ve had a few interviews over the last month at previous companies before this that didn’t work out for whatever reason (what’s meant to be, will be).

I began preparing for this interview on Sunday by looking at the job description and preparing notes around my past experience that matches with what they’re looking for. I had everything they needed for this role, in terms of skills and experience, and then some. I did some research on the company, made some notes around why I wanted to work there, why I would be a great fit for the role and company, and lastly, I always have behavioural questions and answers pre-prepared. So I finished my notes on Sunday night then relaxed on the couch.

On Monday, I spent a few hours looking over my notes, making a few more comments / notes, and ensuring I had everything covered for the interview. I have to over prepare for any interview or test because I have a VERY bad short term memory (which I believe is due to the fibromyalgia), I have horrible brain fog, and I am not a very good “on the spot bullshitter”, and my anxiety can get pretty bad for events like interviews. My mom can tell you I have ALWAYS been this way, and it has worked for me. I wish I didn’t have to prepare so much for so long, but it’s just the way it is and I’ve gotten used to it.

After preparing for the interview on Monday, I was feeling pretty confident that I would be the perfect fit for this role, and I had everything this company was looking for. I texted my boyfriend to tell him I was feeling confident about it. So I took some time to treat myself to a pedicure, did a grocery shop, and went for a long walk.

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At night, my boyfriend and I tried a new dinner recipe – he prepared the meat and I prepared the veggies. I wanted to do some prep work while he cooked, but that did not happen. My anxiety and control issues took over, and I kept micro-managing his cooking to the point where we both had to walk away from each other for a few minutes (sorry babe!). I think my anxiety and nervousness for the interview was starting to come out already (not good) and I was displaying it at home. After dinner I looked over my notes a bit more, and then took a breather to watch one of my favourite TV shows, “The Bachelorette” (I know, guilty pleasure).

Because I knew I would want to prepare the morning before the interview, and because of my fatigue, I showered and blow dried my hair the night before to save myself that time and energy. I went to bed and fell asleep ok (had some very vivid dreams about the interview), and woke up hitting the snooze button almost 10 times – I was exhausted and could not get out of bed. I forced myself to wake up so that I could have a good breakfast, do my hair and makeup, prepare a bit more, and spend some time relaxing before the interview (I know, quite the process eh?)

It was a rainy day, which probably didn’t help my pain much – I took the streetcar over to Starbucks by the interview location downtown, grabbed a coffee and water, and spent a bit more time prepping (I know, a lot of prepping). 30 minutes before the interview I began to get very nervous and anxious, and texted my boyfriend just to vent about it quickly. He was very supportive about it and wished me luck.

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I took MANY deep breaths before the interview (why was I so nervous!) and met the recruiter 15 minutes prior to the interview time. She led me to the interview room, where there were two others (a manager and HR Specialist) ready to interview me. Right away, I was HAMMERED with questions (no tell me about yourself, no details about the company, the role or the team, no niceties what so ever) – there were about 25 questions and they each took about five pages of notes (keep in mind, this is a mid-range HR role, looking for 5+ years experience). Question after question and the “inhumane” interview made me even more nervous and anxious, and I blanked on a couple of the questions (which I never do- I’m normally so good at interviews). On top of that, I was in severe pain sitting there, which didn’t help matters – I was trying not to focus on the pain, but it was difficult not to do. I got to the end of the interview feeling a bit of relief that it was over, and could breathe again as it was MY turn to ask THEM some questions (nowhere near 25 I might add, maybe 5 ha!). Please excuse the profanity in the messages below.
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I left there feeling very deflated, frustrated, stressed, upset, a whole host of emotions. I texted my boyfriend right away to tell him how it went, and he was nothing but supportive. This was yet another role that I could perform very well, and knew like the back of my hand. HR is not rocket science, and I have excelled at every single one of my previous roles. The interview process is becoming increasingly frustrating and stressful for me, due to my anxiety and chronic pain. You might ask why I didn’t take my pain medication beforehand? Because I would have been dazed and loopy and couldn’t have answered the questions to save my life – lose, lose situation.

They are going to be doing a third and final interview next week, and the person hired (cross my fingers) will begin the role in August. We shall see if I get a call by the end of the week, but I’m not holding my breath. When my boyfriend got home from work, he knew I was feeling incredibly down, so he gave me a huge hug and kiss, and waited until I was ready to vent about it. I snuck in this selfie while the boyfriend took the pup out before dinner (shameless!)

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We went out for dinner, but neither one of us ended up being very hungry, came home, and watched the USA vs. Germany women’s world cup game (congrats US). I’m starting to move on from this experience, but it will take a few days. I captured this picture of my two boys fast asleep last night as I typed this post. Aren’t they cute?

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This process is so very frustrating – it makes me question my entire future career, my money situation, planning ahead, having a family, having a life with my boyfriend, buying a house, etc. I feel like these are not problems that the relatively healthy individual has to worry about, but for me, it’s always at the top of my mind.

As I was finishing typing this post, I remembered that I had received a phone call during my interview today, and had forgotten to check my voicemail. What do you know, I received a call from a recruiter around a position I had applied to last week – we shall see how that call goes when I phone her back!

Have any of you had issues with your anxiety or pain during the interview process? If so, do you have any suggestions on how to ease these symptoms? Does anyone else out there have such a poor short term memory that they feel the need to over prepare for events like interviews? Does anyone else worry like I do about their future career path and money while living with a chronic illness? Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

xoxo Lex

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2 thoughts on “Interviewing with an invisible illness

  1. I can’t identify with your pain or your fuzzy memory, Lex, but I can say that ‘bullshitting’ never works and that being yourself is the best way forward. If you don’t know something, have you tried saying so and demonstrating how you would find out? I also understand that you cannot reveal your pain, which increases your anxiety. But, dammit, if you are in HR there should be some understanding from the interviewers. I wish you well with both the third interview and that phone call. If you’ve already had two interviews in the process, you can’t be all bad.

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    • Thanks Derrick, I agree, I am always myself in interviews (what you see is what you get with me). I don’t tend to have issues not understanding questions or comments in interviews, but if I do, I will ask them to clarify. You will be surprised to hear this, but I have had the absolute worst experiences with HR around my health / illness / accommodations, most of my colleagues are not understanding in the least, so I never divulge it during the interview process. Thanks for the well wishes – we shall see what happens! Will just keep plugging along.

      Liked by 1 person

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