Is it okay to talk about anxiety in an interview?

Opening Paragraphs With Quick Answers

Anxiety is a common condition that affects many people, especially in high-pressure situations like job interviews. While you don’t want your anxiety to get in the way during an interview, being open about it can actually help in some cases. Here are some quick answers about whether and how to discuss anxiety in an interview:

– It’s generally okay to briefly mention anxiety if it’s relevant to the conversation. Don’t make it the focus of the interview.

– If your anxiety is linked to a disability, it may be legally protected information you have a right to discuss. Disclose at your discretion.

– It’s fine to mention use of anti-anxiety medication, therapy, or other treatments. This shows you’re managing it.

– Only discuss anxiety if you think it explains something the interviewer may be concerned about, like nervous behavior.

– Focus the conversation on your qualifications and ability to do the job, not just the anxiety itself.

– Be prepared to explain how you deal with anxiety productively and perform under pressure.

Is It Legally Protected to Discuss Anxiety?

If your anxiety rises to the level of a disability, you may have legal protections that allow you to discuss it in an interview. Here’s some information on anxiety as a disability:

– The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protects employees with disabilities from discrimination. This may cover anxiety disorders.

– To be considered a disability, the anxiety must substantially limit major life activities like working, sleeping, concentrating, etc.

– Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, PTSD, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias can potentially qualify as disabilities.

– Disclosing a disability is a personal decision. If you do choose to discuss an anxiety disorder in an interview, it’s sharing protected medical information.

– Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities, so it may be beneficial to disclose if accommodations could help you perform the job duties.

– It’s illegal for employers to discriminate based on disabilities, ignore accommodations, or refuse to hire qualified candidates because of anxiety disorders.

So in summary, significant anxiety related to a diagnosed disorder may be covered under disability laws. While not required, disclosing in an interview could help secure accommodations.

How Does Anxiety Affect Interview Performance?

It’s understandable to be nervous in interviews. Anxiety symptoms can become even more noticeable under the stress of an interview, but there are strategies to minimize the impact:

– Physical symptoms like shaking, sweating, blushing, upset stomach, or racing heart. Try deep breathing.

– Difficulty concentrating from intrusive worries. Repeat questions back to stay focused.

– Rambling or stumbling over words. Pause and collect your thoughts before answering.

– Irritability if anxiety makes you defensive. Remind yourself the interviewer is not against you.

– Sleep issues the night before draining your energy. Try to wind down before bed to get enough sleep.

– Negative thought patterns convincing you that you’ll fail. Remember your skills and preparation.

– Avoidant behaviors if anxiety tempts you to dodge the interview. Push yourself to face the fear.

With preparation to manage symptoms and display your best professional self, anxiety doesn’t have to be a major hinderance.

Should You Proactively Discuss Anxiety?

Generally, you don’t need to proactively discuss anxiety unless it significantly impacts your ability to interview successfully. Here are some pros and cons to consider:

**Potential Pros:**

– Explains anxiety symptoms they may notice like fidgeting or stumbling over words.

– Shows steps you’re taking to manage it, like medication, therapy, breathing exercises.

– Opens door to request reasonable accommodations related to anxiety.

– Builds rapport and shows self-awareness if you frame it positively.

– Could address concerns upfront rather than letting anxiety undermine the interview.

**Potential Cons:**

– Puts focus on a potential weakness rather than your strengths and qualifications.

– Oversharing personal health details early on may seem inappropriate.

– No obligation to disclose if anxiety does not impair your interview skills.

– Raises doubts if you seem overly nervous just talking about anxiety.

– Employer may wrongly assume that anxiety makes you unable to handle job duties.

If you do choose to bring it up, treat it as just one aspect of who you are as a candidate, not the defining factor. Focus on your ability to manage it and perform the job well.

What Are Good Ways to Discuss Anxiety?

If you decide it could be beneficial to mention your anxiety, here are some tips for doing so smoothly:

– **Briefly state it when relevant:** If anxiety explains nervous behavior during the interview, a simple statement may help. “Please excuse my anxiety. Interviews make me more nervous than usual.”

– **Focus on management:** Rather than emphasizing anxiety as a limitation, highlight your tools for managing it. “I’ve learned coping techniques through therapy to keep anxiety under control.”

– **Tie it to your qualifications:** Pivot the conversation to your assets. “Though I do have some social anxiety, it does not prevent me from being an excellent team collaborator.”

– **Keep it positive:** Frame it as showing self-awareness and professional growth rather than making excuses. “Managing my anxiety has really taught me how to thrive under pressure.”

– **Watch your tone:** Don’t let anxiety make you sound desperate or overly emotional. Keep your tone confident and professional.

– **Consider a practice run:** Role play discussing anxiety with a friend to get more comfortable broaching it appropriately.

The way you communicate about anxiety can really impact whether it leaves a positive, negative, or neutral impression with the interviewer.

What Are Some Responses If the Employer Has Concerns?

Some employers may see discussion of anxiety as a potential red flag. Be ready to respond tactfully to concerns about your ability to perform duties:

– **”My anxiety is well managed.”** Assure them it’s under control and doesn’t affect your work quality. Give examples like consistent past performance.

– **”I’m very experienced in this type of role.”** Emphasize that you have a proven track record of handling similar responsibilities and stressful situations successfully.

– **”The company culture seems very welcoming.”** Note that supportive environments help you thrive because you manage anxiety better without excessive pressure.

– **”My accommodations are minor.”** Explain that small adjustments like flexible hours or work from home options occasionally can allow you to operate at your best.

– **”I take a very proactive approach.”** Describe use of therapies, medications, lifestyle changes, and strategies that keep anxiety from getting out of hand.

– **”I know my own limits.”** Vouch for your ability to self-monitor and advocate for your needs when anxiety does flare up.

Keep the focus on your skills and experience. Be calm, positive, and professional to show that anxiety will not be an obstacle for you in performing this role successfully.

When Is It Best Not to Discuss Anxiety?

While there are some cases where it may help, in many interviews it’s better not to bring up anxiety at all. Some examples of when to avoid it:

– If anxiety does not significantly impact your interview skills or ability to perform the job duties, focus the interview on your qualifications.

– If you do not have an anxiety disorder and are only experiencing normal interview jitters, it may downplay your interpersonal skills to dwell on the anxiety.

– Early in the interview process before you have been able to demonstrate your capabilities beyond any anxiety struggles.

– If you do not feel you have anxiety well-managed and discussion may reveal extents that could undermine perceptions of your reliability.

– For jobs involving life-or-death responsibilities, combat, dangerous machinery etc. where baseless anxiety may not be acceptable.

– With interviewers who appear dismissive or discriminatory towards mental health struggles.

– If it requires oversharing personal health details in settings where that may seem inappropriate.

As a rule of thumb, put your best foot forward in interviews by focusing on strengths. Only carefully disclose anxiety when clearly relevant.

Should You Request Accommodations?

If an anxiety disorder significantly impairs major life functions like work performance, requesting accommodations from your employer is an option. Here are some tips if you choose to request accommodations:

– Disclose minimally just the necessary information to get needed accommodations. Avoid oversharing medical details.

– Have documentation from your doctor explaining the nature of your anxiety disorder and how it functionally limits you.

– Research types of reasonable accommodations typically provided for anxiety before requesting specifics. Things like flexible schedules, working from home occasionally, quiet workspace etc.

– Approach the request professionally as an attempt to ensure you can perform duties well, not excuse poor performance.

– Be willing to have an interactive discussion if the initial request seems unreasonable or unrealistic. Consider alternatives.

– If denied accommodations, carefully evaluate whether to appeal the decision and your legal protections under disability laws.

– Remember anxiety is just one aspect of who you are as an employee. Focus on utilizing your strengths.

Reasonable accommodations can enable employees with anxiety to thrive, but also know it is not the only solution. Effective management strategies and treatment empower you in any work environment.


Anxiety is a personal health matter that requires tactful consideration of what to disclose in interviews. While there can be advantages to opening up about it, there are also valid reasons to keep the focus on demonstrating your skills as a candidate. Consider your individual circumstances, management of any anxiety conditions, and ability to perform duties successfully. If you do choose to discuss anxiety, frame it as a manageable challenge that does not define your candidacy or abilities. With the right communication approach, anxiety does not have to be a barrier to interviewing or job performance.

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