I'm a software engineer in the United States. I'm currently suffering from hand pain that forces me to take breaks often at work (15 minutes on, 5 minutes off), and sometimes I need to use accessibility tools such as dictation software.

When should I mention these difficulties during the interview process?

  • 1
    15 min/5 min - I guess that would mean you'd have trouble writing code for the duration of a 30 min - 1+ hour interview and might need to have provisions made, or can you get through that just fine? The key question is: do you need to be catered for during the interview process as well or is this strictly for the job? The answers will be different. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 7:29
  • I developed the injury/disability during my current job. I let my employer know when it became a problem. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 16:09
  • @Dukeling I can get through a 30 minute coding interview, but a full hour of typing would be difficult and/or painful. Depending on how strenuous the interview is, I might need some accommodation in terms of breaks, but I don't think I would need a dictation set up. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 16:11
  • Why do you think you need to mention it at all...provided you can credibly maintain the expected productivity? Most dev jobs aren't shift work with defined breaks and accessibility software can also be productivity software, especially voice control.
    – DTRT
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 18:24
  • 2
    I don't want to end up in a situation where I take an offer, show up on the first day, and then surprise them asking for dictation software and a microphone and whatever else. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 17:43

3 Answers 3


I recommend mentioning it to the recruiter or phone screen person who you make initial contact with. Often times, this person is from HR and is well-versed in the legal obligations of he company surrounding equal opportunity employment. And, they can make sure the onsite interviews can accommodate any special needs you might have.

If you don't need to disclose for special accommodations during the interview, then there is typically a form that's filled out either with the application or upon accepting a position to ensure the company is follow equal ppportunity practices. So, it usually asks about race, gender, military involvement, disability, etc. You can choose not to bring it up if it isn't relevant and answer it then.

However, you can always wait until you are asked the typical strengths and weaknesses question...or name a time when you had to overcome a challenge. It would be very good to say that despite the limitation, you are still able to finish work ahead of deadlines. Emphasizing that despite having to take a few breaks during the day, you can still meet deadlines and exceed expectations...it works strongly in your favor.

Hope that helps.

  • Are there any possible repercussions to mentioning it early on in the hiring /interview process? Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 16:18
  • There shouldn't be. That sounds like discrimination, which is illegal...in America anyway.
    – Brandon P.
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 15:05

I'm not sure, it depend on how company prepare the interview: for instance in one company the interview is divided into 2 parts. One with manager and other part with the IT.

so clearly with the IT you don't need to mention this part and you need to answer the questions asked

and when you talk with the manager this is when you should mention this part, assuming it's not one of the question asked the application form (some companies do ask that nowadays). if you mentioned that in the application form then i believe you need to mention this when asked or in the end when they ask you do you have any more questions for us!

  • If OP is unable to write code for the duration of an interview, that would definitely affect their performance during a coding interview, so it's not at all obvious whether one should be mentioning this before such an interview so appropriate provisions can be made. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 7:25
  • please re-read what he said. he said he suffers from hand pain not mouth pain!!! unless you mean the part where they ask him to implement code and this is not work as normally they won't ask him to write program that will take more than 10m based on my own experience.
    – ma1169
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 7:29
  • i did SE interview as edited in my previous post and it was short. 2 parts one to make UML on board and the second was a simple math 20 line of code then they keep asking question based on your code.
    – ma1169
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 7:35

I do not recommend to mention it. The breaks do not look for me excessive. It will always be the sprint meeting, the longer build running, if nothing stays there is usually always some documentation to read. If your overall productivity is really not sufficient, you can ask for part time later. Finally, this is not just a typist job, other factors like experience or education may influence your productivity lots more.

While in general the employer should not discriminate you because of the health issues, it may be very difficult to them to stay really neutral if they know in advance and have a number of innocently looking reasons to reject the application at this point.

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