Monday, February 11, 2013

An interview with Parkinson's Disease

No, this is not a post of me interviewing my disease.  This is about going on an interview for a new job while I have Parkinson's Disease.  I work at a large corporation and have been here for nearly 20 years.  That's a long time for anyone, but especially for someone in the tech industry.  However, I have stayed here for a number of reasons, including health care, schedule flexibility and the fact that my management chain believes people's families are important and have shown that in their actions towards me and my family, especially since my daughter was born.

I like working where I am but have felt stuck in a rut that I have not been able to get out.  It's not that I lack motivation (actually a symptom of PD I don't yet have), but I seem to have been (in my opinion) typecast in a role here at my company and am unable to get to more leading roles, because of that typecasting.  Therefore, this past December, I updated the resume and sent it out to a few companies in my area that had posted positions dealing with areas that I had experience and in which I was interested.  These positions were all senior engineering positions.

Within two weeks, one of those companies contacted me and after an initial interview over the phone, asked me to attend an onsite interview.  This is where the nerves could kick in.  I did not want to hide my Parkinson's; but, I also did not want to advertise it in the way a constant tremor or being off balance may cause.  Luckily, I have recently figured out a good med regimen that keeps my tremor and gait issues pretty much controlled as long as I get a good night's sleep and eat right (lower protein intake and reduce the junk food).

So, after making sure I got a good night's sleep and not overdoing anything for breakfast, I took my meds at the appropriate times and showed up for my interview on time (giving thanks for leaving an extra 20 minutes early because of all the traffic I hit).  The interviews went well, they seemed to like my resume and experience.  Also, I had barely a tremor and really had no gait issues for the 3 hours I was there.  I was relaxed and felt good.

The last interview was with the person that would be my manager if I got the position.  It was near the end of this interview that I told him that I wished to disclose that I had Parkinson's Disease.  The reason I did this was twofold.

  1. If I got the job, I was going to be working with these people.  I wanted to be up front and honest because they would be the ones I would be interacting with everyday.  If I didn't disclose, when I got to work and started using a cane or shaking really badly, they'd be wondering what else was I hiding.
  2. To be honest, if they had a problem with my PD, I wouldn't want to work there.  I worked for a company that has been very accommodating  I don't need the added stress of hiding my disease from my new employer added to the stress of learning a new job.
The manager looked at me, thanked me for being honest and asked point blank what did that mean in terms of my work.  I explained that my work wouldn't suffer (it hasn't at my current job), I just might type a little slower and use a cane at times.  He told me as long as my work was not affected, he didn't care (which is the answer I was hoping he'd give).  We ended the interview about 10 minutes later, and I was escorted to the lobby.  

A week and a half later, I was offered a position and will be starting a new job for the first time in two weeks.  I am excited, nervous and very happy with all that has happened.  But, I'm especially glad/hopeful that I found a company that will allow me to continue working with PD and support my family.  


  1. Great !!!
    Best of luck in the new job :-D

  2. Good luck...I recently went through the same process but for a different position within my organization....I got the job. Stay strong.