I have some health issues that make it almost impossible to go more than an hour without visiting the restroom. I'm about to hit the job trail to get a new programming job and probably I will have full day onsite interviewing. How can I get the bathroom breaks I need without making a big deal out of it? What is the appropriate way to ask for these without being impolite or embarrassing?

I know that legally in the US they can't discriminate against me for it. I'm more asking how to deal with the human situation of it -- I don't want to have to be a jerk about it, and I don't want to have to raise doubts (even if those doubts are illegal) and stuff.

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    Would it be possible to just say "Can we hold for a moment, I need to use the facilities" or something like that? I don't think you need to go in to details unless they ask if you're OK. Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 16:26
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    @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner it's the repeating it every hour that he fears will reflect badly on him Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 16:43
  • Without going into too much detail, how long are the breaks? If its 1 or 2 minutes I doubt it will be a huge problem, 10 or more might look odd.
    – user9158
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 5:41

4 Answers 4


I'm answering this from the perspective of a hiring manager who tends to lead these sorts of longer interviews. What I do when scheduling interviews is to ask up front if there are any accommodations we need to be aware of -- and that's anything, from answering questions about building accessibility, to dietary restrictions when lunch is part of the process, and so on. This would be a time to say "I need to take bathroom breaks more frequently than the average person, so will be politely excusing myself if there are no natural breaks that would allow me to go"...or something like that.

However, I know (based on my own job searches) that not all pre-interview conversations happen like this, and some people might not ask you anything. In that case, I would consider it perfectly acceptable to own the situation and say up front that you have to take breaks more frequently. Then, just do it. It's not at all being a jerk. I mean, if you have to go you have to go!

Reasonable places to work understand these things. I wouldn't try to work around it or cover it up or anything at all like that, because you want to see both how people react to you, and how you get along with them, if you were to work there full time, and that starts with being honest at all stages of the game.

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    Nicely put. And when you say what you need, keep it short, sweet and to the point - your condition isn't anyone's business but your own. The need it what matters - you just need frequent breaks and a nearby facility. I'll add that for security-heavy jobs, this is particularly important to mention before the day of the interview, because a smart employer can book a room for the interview that is easier to get back and forth to the bathroom. Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 17:13
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    Frankly if they are going to have a problem with you taking frequent breaks, it is better to find that out in the interview. The jobs you lose because of telling them that are the jobs you don't want anyway as you will not fit the corporate culture.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 18:18

@jcmeloni's answer is great but I would add that there may be some things you can do to reduce the impact of your condition on the day of the interview.

I would prepare ahead of time to minimize the amount of time spent in the bathroom. Personally when I have an interview I change what I eat the day before to help avoid any gastric issues. I do not know if there is any thing preventative you can do, but if so then I would recommend taking them. Taking the breaks will not be a big deal so long as you are only taking a few minutes, if you take 10-15 minutes every-time then the breaks are going to be more noticeable and may impact any decision the company makes. I would probably take a little extra time a lunch to square away any issues and prepare for the afternoon.

While the company can not discriminate against you, it could impact your productivity. So anything that you can do to minimize that sort of impression should be taken. But do not compromise your health or cleanliness for speed.

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    This is a great point too. Definitely consider your food choices on a day before (this applies to going on a date, too...)
    – enderland
    Commented Dec 22, 2012 at 13:31

My experience with on-site one day long interviews, is that they are a sequence of about one hour interviews with different people and I usually have been asked at each change if I wanted anything.

And as an interviewer, I to so (building plan is so that you need to badge to get back from the bathroom). And it seems that stress can have the same effect as your medical condition -- or that it is more widespread than you think -- as it occurs surprisingly often that a candidate asks for the bathroom both before and after.


Just tell them! Part of the purpose you're interviewing is not just for the company to check your personality and whether you fit the job. You're also on the look out for a company with a corporate culture that fits you and your health requirements.

If it reflects badly now, think of how it'll look when you get the job! Everyone at management level age probably has a relative or in-law with similar health issues. Many of them can sympathize. If they're nearing retirement age, they can even empathize and worry about facing the same problems themselves. It's a part of being human.

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