My contract is coming to an end in <1 month (26th of June is my final day) as a result of matters unrelated to this question. I am now interviewing for a new job, with 2 interviews for different positions lined up for next week. I live and work in the Netherlands.

I visited a doctor earlier this week for some health complaints I have had for about a month now. After ruling some things out, I have been told this morning to make an appointment in the hospital as they fear that it could be a form of cancer (something my father had when he was roughly my age). At this point in time I do not know for sure if it is cancer, or what the origin of my issue is, at all.

I like to be open and forthcoming with people I work with, including mangers, HR, etc. In light of this, I would like to be honest about my health during interviews. However, I can see a possible employer choosing not to hire me due to a possible risk that I will develop a condition that will cost them money right from the get go. If they would ask outright I wouldn't lie about it, even if asking that is uncommon and illegal. But would it be a good idea to volunteer this information during a job interview? Or is it wiser to wait until I have more knowledge?

I am wondering to bring this up myself as part of being open and honest. This would also possibly reduce the chance of them finding out I (possibly) knew during interviews and didn't tell them, putting me in a bad light.

  • What is your age (roughly)? How did your father go through the (presumably similar) situation?
    – virolino
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:23
  • Sorry to hear that you're dealing with something like this. But what makes you think it's any of your (potential) employer's business? NL has strong employee protections which usually means they can't even ask about this or at least not factor it into a hiring decision. Do you have reason to believe they would ask?
    – Lilienthal
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:24
  • @virolino Why does that matter? I don't see how it's relevant if we wanted to answer the question.
    – Lilienthal
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:25
  • @virolino I'm 28. My father had a indefinite contract at the time he was diagnosed, as such he had a right to paid sickness leave for the duration.
    – Yellow
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:25
  • 1
    Is there a benefit to communicating this to a prospective employer right now? Because you're only really pointing out negative consequences in your answer, which quickly leads to the "nothing to gain" conclusion (unless there is something to gain, hence my question).
    – Flater
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:27

3 Answers 3


As long as you are fit enough to work now, your potential health issues are none of your employers business until a doctor says otherwise.

Especially with no diagnosis and a lot of open questions, there is nothing constructive that can come out of talking about it.

Do not directly lie, for example if asked if you can start on this specific date, say you have a hospital visit scheduled and you have to start on another day, but do not go into details as to why.

Chances are your employer does not even want to know anything about it, to not be accused of discrimination one way or another later.

That said, good luck, I hope they figure out what it is and how to treat it.

  • 1
    +1 and worth adding that if you have planned away days before joining a company (for whatever reason, not just medical) make sure to make it clear before you join up to avoid any surprises. Around signing the contract is a good time to merge the calendars.
    – Aida Paul
    Jun 5, 2020 at 10:37

Normally, health issues should not be part of the interview process. You do to need to mention anything.

If some interview appointment will conflict with a medical appointment, then you might mention (if you choose to do so) that you need to undergo some medical tests. No need to provide details.

Although the diagnostic is different, I had a similar situation. I do not remember if I mentioned anything about my health issues during the interview. However, I know for sure I do not tell people the details of my health anyway, regardless of who they are (except medical personal and similar).

What is important right now is that you are not even sure what is going on. No need to decrease your chances of employment based on assumptions.

Should I disclose a potential health problem during an interview in the interest of transparency?

The transparency during an interview refers to your skills and abilities. Not your health in the future. Not the salary at the previous job. Not the temper of your previous boss. Nothing which is not directly related to the job you apply for.

Example: a recruiter wanted me to say that I have experience with DSPs (digital signal processors). I was transparent and insisted that I will not lie in my CV about experience that I do not have. I was transparent to say that I would have no problem building that experience at the new job.


But would it be a good idea to volunteer this information [...] as part of being open and honest

No. Transparency and honesty are fine things, but in an interview context that's limited to being open about your experience and skill level.

The only time you would bring up a health issue is after you've received an offer. At that point you can bring up a need for reasonable accommodations such as regular medical appointments or a standing desk. This protects both you and your new employer from (subconscious) discrimination.

If you were dealing with several health problems that would require more than reasonable accommodation and could affect your ability to actually do the work, then that's different. In such a situation it's likely better to bring that up early and avoid issues down the road. But that's a separate question.

Additionally, many employers wouldn't want to hear this information. They know that making decisions based on it is illegal. In some cases, they would immediately drop your candidacy just to avoid being accused of discrimination later on when they're down to only a few candidates.

This would also possibly reduce the chance of them finding out I (possibly) knew during interviews and didn't tell them, putting me in a bad light.

That's not something you should worry about at all. For one, holding a health issue against you would almost certainly be illegal discrimination. And any decent employer won't Sure, they might be annoyed or frustrated that they have to figure out a way to accommodate you and run their department with this potential complication. But if they're decent human beings that will be trumped by sympathy for your situation. Just like you they'd probably wish you were in perfect health. But they'll deal. Managing their employees is part of their job after all. This isn't all that different from a new hire going on maternity leave soon after starting. Perhaps the timing isn't ideal but they'll figure out a way to manage it. And legally they have to. I recommend reading through the answers on this question concerning pregnancy. Of course it's a different situation but there are certain parallels around the transparency you mention.

All of the above would be the advice I'd give if you knew you had a health problem that would have an impact on your work and require some kind of reasonable accommodation. In your case you don't even know anything yet so you definitely shouldn't bring this up in interviews.

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