Job interviewing & Diabetes, not exactly simple

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“What are you good at? What’s your major weakness? Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with your coworkers and how you dealt with it.” Being prepared for a job interview is a lot of work itself and always stressful.

If you are diabetic, you know that things are even more complicated because of the need to keep your blood sugar under control while you are trying to hide your condition to the potential employer. If you are reading this post, you happen to be an employer, and you are not diabetic please don’t get me wrong. We don’t try to fool anybody, but too often we diabetic face a hard reality named prejudice and we have to protect ourselves.

We can be as smart as anybody else.  We can be as productive as anybody else. That’s why we want to be evaluated for what we have to offer, and not to be under-ranked just because of diabetes. I’m aware that some employers don’t fall in the ignorant category, and that they would select the candidate on the basis of his/her potential contribution to the company. Although, the competition out there is crazy these days and we simply can’t take the risk. So, every time I’m notified of an upcoming interview and it gets scheduled I start to plan.

Blood sugar of course has an impact on the performance. So, my goal is keeping my sugars in a good range for the whole duration of the interview and quite often for a much longer time without the need of using my meter and doing any adjustment. I like to think of it as a game, and the game gets surely more challenging when I play away, but it’s still doable. For example, a couple of months ago I flew for an interview from Central Texas to the East Coast. I was interviewing for a small company, and I had the CEO picked me up at the airport. I turned my cell phone on as soon as we landed, and I knew from a voicemail I got that my interviewer was already at the arrivals waiting for me. I let him wait a little longer and made a stop to the restrooms. I checked my blood sugar. It was 125mg/dl. On my pump I set insulin to the 85% of the regular baseline for an hour. In a normal situation I would have never done it, but that was an extraordinary situation. I was sure that keeping insulin at 100% would have meant for me the need to eat something in about one hour maybe sooner than that, and I knew in advance that the interview was going to last about two hours. I met the guy and we drove to his offices.

During the interview my mind was clear. The guy told me that we would have kept talking at a nice restaurant nearby. I thought a sarcastic “Great!” I couldn’t check my blood sugar, but after having the baseline at its 85% surely I didn’t need to eat! Once at the restaurant I carefully avoided any source of carbohydrates or fruits, and ordered meat and a mixed salad, instead. The meat gets metabolized after 6 hours since you eat it, so my meal wouldn’t have contributed to increase my blood sugar of a bit while I was there. Again, my mind is clear. At this point I have neatly perceived the culture of the company, its successes and its flaws. The guy brilliantly goes to the restrooms giving me the opportunity to check my blood sugar: 143mg/dl (not bad considering the situation!). I don’t have time to calculate the correction bolus. I quickly push the buttons for 0.2. He’s back and didn’t see me playing with my pump. We keep talking and talking and talking.

Okay, the story ends with me not being offered the job. But it doesn’t really matter. As a professional that interview was a great opportunity for me to clarify first of all to myself what I want and surely what I don’t want from a job.  As a diabetic I proved to myself that with a little bit of extra attention to my body, I’m capable of managing things pretty well also in highly stressful situations.

I would love to hear your stories or to address your inquiries.

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