78

The place I worked got shut down for safety. A friend of mine was killed, and I was hurt pretty bad another time, and it left me with very obvious scarring where my skin is much lighter around the scar.

Because it's on my arm and hand, I can't hide it easily.

Should I wear gloves or something? If not, how can I explain it when I'm on an interview?

  • 81
    Sorry to hear about the incident. Can you please help us understand how does the scar affect your ability to secure a new job and handle the work in your role? – Nimesh Neema Jul 18 at 17:49
  • 11
    @NimeshNeema It's from a bad burn, I was out for a while and it looks awful, people stare at it. my hand looks like part of a glove was peeled off. It's healing slowly, but I don't know how long it's going to take to heal if it ever does. – Tina_Sea Jul 18 at 17:55
  • 8
    Related (duplicate?): Should I clarify my facial injury during an interview? – Dukeling Jul 18 at 19:36
  • 14
    @JulieinAustin There’s a world of difference between a motor vehicle accident and a work place accident, especially when you’re in a job interview environment where people are looking for a reason to toss your resume in the trash! – nick012000 Jul 19 at 4:54
  • 9
    My condolences. The sequence of your related questions might serve as an exhortation for someone else agonizing over whether to contact Workplace Safety or OSHA. – Michael Jul 19 at 13:25

11 Answers 11

140

You don't need to cover or explain your scars if you don't want to.

Employers don't have any need to know where your scars came from, regardless of whether you got them on the job or not. That is completely personal to you and whether you want to share that information. Even if you get the job, you don't ever need to share that information if you don't want to, as it has nothing to do with how you can perform your job.

I'm not even sure if it's legal for them to ask about your scars, as it might run afoul of discrimination and disability laws, though I would say it's an edge case and IANAL. The only thing you might want to disclose is if you have any injuries or disabilities that would limit the work you can do, but I would be wary of disclosing any of that information too early in the process (Related question on when to disclose disabilities)

31

Unless you are interviewing for a position where a specific physical appearance is necessary there is no need to hide or explain anything about any scars on your body. Furthermore, no interviewer should be asking questions about scars...especially if it has nothing to do with the position you are applying to.

  • 1
    "especially if it has nothing to do with the position you are applying to" - but it probably has something to do - or at least might, if OP is applying for similar position to the one that gave her that scar. – Mołot Jul 19 at 7:49
  • 3
    @Mołot In what way? If the OP happened to not be at work the day of the accident and didn't get a scar, would it change anything? The only thing of concern is if they're still capable of performing the job, in body and mind. Which, I'm pretty sure, would be covered as any other medical reason (and protected in the same way). – Luaan Jul 19 at 7:59
  • 10
    Certainly no competent interviewer should take physical appearance as a factor (unless it clearly affected the candidate's performance in the job). But a scar might raise questions such as: did it result from incompetence in a previous job? It's less clear whether such questions would be valid. – gidds Jul 19 at 9:21
  • I get the feeling it's bothering the OP. And in this case, "Ouch my hand, burned it a while ago but it's healing fast." So the subject has been discussed, the interviewer has his curiosity settled, back to normal business. – RedSonja Jul 19 at 10:58
  • 8
    ...and if it has something to do with the position (industry where work safety matters), the scar might do you good: "I care about safety because I worked at a place where they didn't and paid for it". – ptyx Jul 19 at 18:12
18

First off, I am sorry about your experience which you described. I am big believer in that everyone should be able to go home alive, with all their digits, and a "fist-full of money" at the end of each shift. My condolences to your friend.

As someone who has large visible scars on my right hand and left arm, I wouldn't cover it. The only things I take care to cover are my tattoos, as in my industry they are still seen as taboo. But scars, no one will comment on nor particularly care assuming they don't interfere with your work. Leave them out in the open, or covered based on the style of dress required per the dress code and chances are no one will bring the up. If they do, simply dodge the question politely by saying something to the tune of, "I had an accident."

I have never been asked about my scars, my limp (from the same accident) yes - but never the scars.

Good luck!

  • 2
    If questions about workplace safety come up, you have some very hard won experience to offer a new employer. – O. Jones Jul 19 at 0:32
11

Don't let your scars define you, either to yourself or to others.

It seems fairly evident that you're (quite understandably) still suffering anxiety about your scars, and this (and the surrounding situations) is something that will take some time to deal with.

I'm not advocating that you should ignore your scars and the issues surrounding them, but you need to work toward an acceptance of them that allows you to coexist with them.

Hopefully, then you'll be able to turn up at interviews (and other interactions) without feeling the need to emotionally hide behind whatever you're using to hide your scars.

This is a big thing to get over. The real issue is not whether or not you wear long sleeves or gloves, but you dealing with this physical and emotional trauma and accepting it into your everyday life.

Be as open as you feel comfortable with about the physical effects of your injury and show that they don't affect your day-to-day work. You can't help people looking at the physical you, but you can "own" this by you being who you are.

10

Should I wear gloves or something? If not, how can I explain it when I'm on an interview?

You could wear gloves... but I think that will make it more evident, and interviewers could wonder why you have gloves during an interview.

Let's assume you don't wear gloves. In that case, there is a chance interviewers won't even ask and mind their own business. Having a scar on your hand shouldn't be reason for you to be disqualified for a job (I guess there are exceptions, though).

If you are asked during an interview what happened to your hand (again, unlikely) you could answer something like "I was hurt in an accident some time ago". No need to give details, and interviewers most likely won't ask for them.

  • 5
    Agreed. And if you still want to cover it up some kind of bandage will raise fewer questions than gloves. – Michael Jul 19 at 10:38
  • @Michael correct, that would be less evident and more "natural" to see on someone's hand during an interview – DarkCygnus Jul 19 at 19:23
  • Good suggestion, editing the phrasing – DarkCygnus Jul 20 at 17:39
4

I agree with all the posts who say you don't need to disguise or explain your scars.

But interviewers might still ask what happened. They are human, and humans can be thoughtless. So I suggest you prepare a small script if someone makes a comment. That way, you won't be flustered, or go on a rant... whatever you do when you're nervous. Prepare a short script, one sentence (two tops), that you'll be able to deliver kindly and confidently. It could be as simple as :

I got into an accident, I'd rather not talk about it.

You can even just say only the second part, as long as you do not appear mad or frustrated. Even if they are thoughtless, being able to respond quickly and in a neutral tone will help to get the interview back on track with no awkwardness.

4

With the burn as bad as you say, it may leave a permanent scar, which you'll have to learn to deal with, but that doesn't have to be during an interview right now. During an interview, you're likely to be self-conscious and nervous as it is, you don't need to add to it. This is about your comfort level more than it is about the interviewer's comfort level.

If it makes you uncomfortable with people staring, then cover it, but do it with a bandage, gauze, or whatever was appropriate when it was still a wound. If the dressing was bulky, you can skip it and just use an Ace bandage, so it's less visible. People might still glance at it, but it should hide the "gross" part and allow them to process the situation "normally".

This can be something you slip on right before and take off right afterwards.

It isn't to hide that you got injured, only to prevent people from overreacting. There's no shame in getting hurt in a work related accident, unless you purposely caused it, which doesn't appear to be the case.

If the interviewer asks about the bandage, you have the right to refuse to answer, but that can look bad, as if you have something to hide. A simple answer of "I was near an accident at work" should tell them enough to stave off any discriminatory questions, if they are a good interviewer. If they press for more information as it applies to your involvement in the accident, you'll know this probably isn't a good place to work as they are interested in "who's fault is it".

There are questions they can legally ask, though, such as if you are still physically and mentally able to the work they want. Things along the lines of: Since this was a burn, do you flinch or shy away from working in hot applications of any sorts; Is your manual dexterity or range of motion affected? These address your ability to do a job, but questions about how your actions did or didn't cause the accident are not likely to be relevant or legal. If you feel as if the interviewer asked the wrong type of questions, you may want to consult a labor lawyer. This doesn't mean you sue them, you just find out if those questions are legal. The lawyer will let you know if you have a case.

If you feel less comfortable with the bandage/dressing, then don't use it. As I said before, this is about your comfort level, not anyone else's. It's not your job to make everyone else comfortable with you, and if someone has a problem with it, it's their problem, not yours.

Sorry about your friend and your injury. I hope I helped and good luck with interviews!

1

This probably depends on countries (and their culture) but there are fundamental differences between scars (or other bodily deformations) coming from an accident (or medical effects) and the ones self-inflicted (including tattoos).

The second ones are much more complicated during a job interview.

In the first category, which people understand to be accidental, there are some which are disturbing and then, well, it depends on the person on the other side. We are all humans and react differently to different things. We also make some irrational decisions based on that.

If your scar is burn-induced and indeed you saw that people tend to stare to it, I would personally build a short story (a few words) about it. "Sorry if scratch the scar a bit, it is healing and I am fine but it was a hell of a ride". This makes it easier to everyone.

I had a similar (infinitely lighter) situation once. I was playing volleyball in the afternoon and the match was intense. I overdid and my hands were trembling afterwards (nothing to worry about). I went right afterwards in the evening to a party and a lady was glancing at them from time to time, worried/curious. I used the opportunity to engage a discussion and everyone was better afterwards.

  • 2
    I don't think tattoos are relevant at all, and calling them "self-inflicted scars" is just confusing. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jul 19 at 13:44
  • 3
    @DmitryGrigoryev: I believe that they are relevant. People react differently to self-inflicted "whatever" and to "whatever" happened to you by accident/illness. Hiding natural scars is not as necessary as they are less likely to bring rejection (as opposed to tattoos - about which I do not care but in plenty of places people do) – WoJ Jul 19 at 13:51
1

Wearing gloves will only attract more attention to your hands. As an interviewer, I wouldn't bring up your scar if I saw one, but I would be interested why you are wearing gloves in the middle of summer.

A burn is not the kind of sign that makes people assume the worst, like traces of injection needles or a blue eye, which you'd better explain. Most will just assume a cooking accident or something similar.

I wouldn't expect people to ask you about it if you don't bring it up yourself.

1

A question I have been asked many times, during an interview, is: "Why did you leave your previous job?"

If this is likely in your situation, you should prepare an honest answer, which will involve your previous employer's safety record. I can see this leading to your scars.

It is standard advice not to criticise a previous employer, but, I would suggest, you could mention the scars as evidence of the lack of safety there. So, no, you don't hide them, but use them to advance your application.

If you mention the scars first, it removes any embarrassment on the part of the interviewer, and gives you an opportunity to decline to answer any prying questions. Of course, as others have noted, you must be able to demonstrate the accident does not impact your ability to do the new job.

-7

Personally, I'd consider covering it, given the history behind the scar. It'd be trivial for them to look at the scar, hear the story behind it, then instantly decide that it's evidence that you lack the safety consciousness that a professional should have, and instantly decide not to hire you to protect the company from any liability that might arise from you.

As a result, if you do not cover it, I would definitely recommend that you do not mention how you got the scar. After all, "they're not a good fit for our culture" covers a wide variety of things, and it's a perfectly legal excuse for them to use, even if discrimination due to disability is illegal.

I would just make sure that any gloves that get worn match the suit that you're wearing to the interview, so that they don't look too out of place - wearing gloves with a suit would be odd, but it might be possible to make it work for you.

  • I’d appreciate if the people who downvoted would clarify why. It’s a job interview, the people there are literally looking for reasons to disqualify the people they are interviewing, and “I have physical evidence that I don’t follow safety procedures” is definitely a potential reason for them to do so. – nick012000 Jul 19 at 4:52
  • 6
    My htoughts would rather be "In the future that person will follow safety regulations for sure since he learned the hard way why they are in place".... – piet.t Jul 19 at 6:06
  • 8
    This answer seems to be hinting that the questioner was behind the incident that caused his scar - that's not apparent at all. Also, if a scar constitutes a "not good fit for culture" - what can the questioner do? Maybe this answer should equip the questioner to answer questions that arise from a potential bad-copy interviewer? – shalomb Jul 19 at 10:54
  • 4
    @shalomb I don't think this answer is implying that the OP is responsible for their own injury - but rather, that interviewers will make the incorrect, unfair, and biased assumption that they are, which is morally objectionable, but something they might get away with anyway. In other words, unconscious discrimination. – Southpaw Hare Jul 19 at 19:42
  • If an interviewer makes that kind of judgment call about an interviewees safety standards without bothering to listen to them, this is likely a bad place to work, since it's likely that same line of thought will be followed if/when there is another accident. This only ends in distrust and the worker looking for another job. If the person doesn't get a job because of bad company policy, it's probably for the best. – computercarguy Jul 22 at 16:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.