The person in question is a hobbyist programmer since their childhood and wants to make a transition to junior developer. S/he has never worked before.

A few facts about the person:

  • The person is passionate about programming, and quite knowledgeable as well.
  • S/he knows his/her data structures and algorithms.
  • Knows 2 languages - in one his fairly proficient.
  • S/he doesn't have university education - studied CS for one year and then had to quit.
  • S/he has a portfolio on GitHub with 3/4 small applications.
  • S/he participates on Stack Overflow with reputation around 1500+.

S/he had 2 psychotic episodes in his/her life when s/he was convinced everyone was talking about him/her behind his/her back. The person believed that there were cameras everywhere watching him/her, and grandiose thinking that s/he is special in some way and has some special mission from God. The person had to be hospitalized and their symptoms receded after 1 month of care. Now s/he is on daily medication and acts/thinks like the average person.

Could such a person be hired? What questions should s/he be prepared for?

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    If the condition is now being properly treated and medicated, why should it be brought up at all? – Jane S May 8 '16 at 13:39
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    Some folks do use alternative pronouns because they don't feel either of the standard ones adequately describes their identity. However in this case I'm guessing it's just a desire for anonymity in this question. – keshlam May 8 '16 at 14:08
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    You wouldn't put that you were diabetic or had any other "under control with treatment" condition on your resume, why would this be there? I might well hire this person -- why not? But there's no reason to go around putting diagnoses on your resume, especially those that don't require any accommodation or special consideration – Kate Gregory May 8 '16 at 14:51
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    @JoeStrazzere A person has to start somewhere. If everyone starts asking for job experience, the candidate will never gain job experience. – cst1992 May 8 '16 at 16:22
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    The fact that s/he "couldn't" finish school would be a red flag for me, regardless of the root cause. – Lumberjack May 8 '16 at 17:47

Keep in mind, in many countries, specifically refusing to hire based on mental illness might be considered discrimination based on disability, and possibly illegal. If (s)he has marketable skills as a developer, and the disability is managed, so that (s)he does not require unreasonable accommodations, then yes, (s)he should be hirable, even if the reality is there is a huge stigma on mental illnesses. (S)he should avoid disclosing during the hiring process to minimize discrimination, which I think is perfectly reasonable, because it sounds like (s)he doesn't need any accommodation that would be a particular hardship on the employer, as long as his/her condition remains stable as it is now, and (s)he has a reasonable expectation the (s)he will remain stable.

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I would hire hir for a job that fits hir skills; under control is under control, and many of us have chronic conditions that could be problems if they flare up.

However, without either degree or prior experience I would be skeptical about those skills and would certainly hesitate to offer a technical position beyond the most limited until capability had been proved. Effectively, a degree is a recommendation.

Going back for a degree would fix this. Or applying for a marginally technical job and working hir way up from there by demonstrating competence in progressively more challenging tasks... If those entry jobs exist.

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    (For those who haven't encountered it, "hir" is one of the many attempts to create gender-neutral pronouns. I'm not wild about it myself, but it's a lot easier to say than he/she. Some folks do prefer it; all I ask is that they not fault me if I forget to use it.) – keshlam May 8 '16 at 17:47

Would you hire a developer with paranoid schizophrenia?

Short answer is 'No I wouldn't'

Not for a position which is easy to fill. I'm not a psychiatrist, I don't know any, and I have no real idea whats involved but I wouldn't take the risk, because if the person needed some attention I wouldn't know what to do.

The only way I would take such a person is if they were sponsored in some way so there is a clear advantage for me.

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The first question to answer: Would you hire that person if he or she didn't have paranoid schizophrenia? The second question: Does your company as a whole either want to help disadvantaged people, or does your company have an advantage from hiring them? (In some countries, there might be some requirement to hire a certain number of disabled people, and this one might count as disabled without requiring you to make any physical changes to your offices). I am asking about "company as a whole" because that wouldn't be your decision, but your company's.

But you really need to get some expert advice what this particular illness means in practice. I had a colleague with some serious mental problem who I would recommend with good conscience to anyone looking for a good software developer working in company of grown-ups. There will be others who I wouldn't want anywhere near my workplace. That's something you have to find out. Plus what legal obligations or problems you might have along the road.

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I'm impressed with her credentials. I would hire her if I were in your position. But then you should consider having a good rapport with her physicians, or at least your HR department would have good rapport with her physicians.

I would recommend using Care Circles (an Android app) or a Slack channel dedicated to monitoring her condition. You should include in that channel/group: the prospective developer, her caretaker/trusted family members, you/HR department, her teammates. But first ask her doctors about her. They might have an insight on how you would address her needs while benefiting from her skills... assuming you're hiring her.

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