Nervous System WTF



  • I've been reading thedailywtf (or rather, Worse Than Failure...) for over a year now, but never have posted anything.

    So here goes...

    This is really not related to IT in particular, but to me, and interviewing for IT jobs.

    I've had this nervous system condition called hyperhidrosis pretty much as long as I can remember.

    To find out more about it, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperhidrosis

    But to make a long story short, basically this condition has caused me to hate interviewing (more than a "normal" person would hate them) because the anxiety and stress of interviewing causes my hands and face to begin to sweat. Sometimes fairly profusely. It is not that I am necessarily incredibly nervous or have anything to hide, but the hyperhidrosis causes my face to sweat, which I fear gives the interviewer the impression that I have something to hide, or that I'm not suited to the job. It is a "handicap" in a way, but not a widely recognized one. Most people have no idea that such a condition exists.

    Now, I have decent skills (including people skills), and have considered switching jobs lately. I've only had one serious job in the industry, as an all around programmer (I do all manner of web client/server programming) for a company that makes a web app. I've had it for over 3 years, and sometimes I feel like I got the job as a fluke, because I'm not sure HOW I came off in the interview 3 years ago.

    Anyway, my question goes a bit like this:
    Many of you have interviewed people. How would a condition like this make you react? Would you reject the candidate right away because they seemed too nervous to handle anything? Even if their answers to questions were good? Also, how would you react to a candidate who came into an interview with a handkerchief, and wiped his brow every once in a while during the proceedings? Or had a sweaty handshake?

    These are things I wonder about, not being in an interviewer position myself. Sometimes I feel like I can't really move on with my career due to this affliction, but I'm wondering what the general opinion out there is...



  • It would depend on a number of factors.  The first being how noticable it is, the second being the weather at the time.  If it's 100 degrees out, and the inteviewee is sweating, I'm not going to pay attention to it.  If there's a foot of snow on the ground, and the interviewee is sweating like crazy, I'd definitely notice it.

    Since I would expect a certain amount of nervousness, possibly including sweat, in an interview, I'd probably pass it off unless it was really a torrential kind of thing.  If it were noticable and excessive and not excused by high temperatures outside, I might ask about it in a casual fashion, more in terms of, "are you feeling well?  We can postpone the interview if you're not," than, "what the heck is going on with all that sweat?"

    (I'd much rather ask about it and find out about nervous oversweating than not ask about it and find out the person was running a 104 degree fever that day and was so desperate for the job they came to the interview anyway.)

    If asked something like that, just say, "I sweat a lot when I'm nervous," and brush it off as unimportant.  The majority of people will probably accept that.  If you go into an explanation of having a rare handicap that, blah, blah, blah, most likely you'll alienate more people than not, since it's an over-explanation in most cases.

    That's my take on it.  (I'm not currently a manager in any sort of hiring capacity, but I have been before.)



  • Well, i had the opportunity to interview a few candidates for a job recently. All i can say is, as long as a very short sentence (perhaps when you hand out your handkerchief) says something like "Sorry, sometimes i sweat a lot when i'm nervous ", it would pass without problems. The point of the interview is to check your matching to a specific job. Of course if the job is to be selling applications to prospect client, this will be a problem, as you must be handle to have self control (yes i know you have, it's handicap, but client doesn't know it). However, it's rarely programmers which sell applications, and there are far more important criterias to most IT jobs. But don't go explaining your handicap during interview, unless interviewer ask about it. It doesn't affect your job and so don't need more than a short sentence. As for impact on your carreer, don't mind. There are employers that won't take someone with greasy hairs, other that won't hire people with acnea :)

    Purpose of interview is to show you are made for the job. Your interest in the job, your adequates competences and your overall relationnal skills is what will most often be decisive. If most people will get one proposition out of 10 job interviews, maybe you will only get 1 out of 11, (there must be one jerk somewhere ^^) Don't imagine your career is toasted just for this :)



  • I am in a position to interview and hire people.

    If it were really obvious, I too might ask if you were feeling ok (a very brief explanation of the situation would be more than enough for me to ignore it and move on).

    Your confidence, and the ease with which you know the answers counts more than most things, at least with me. If you give the impression that you've been through the war so to speak, then I know you know your stuff, and very little else matters.

     Not everyone is so open. Does drinking water help? Most folks will offer you a chance to have a cup of coffee or glass of water during the interview. Just don't focus on it.

     



  • Although this isn't on topic for this site, it does seem appropriate to ask this of our community here for some reason.

    I have handled the interviewing and hiring of people in the past and often overlook issues like appearance for a tech position.  Granted if there are two people whose skills match almost exactly I will go for the more physically appealing one because that may give me a possibility of using them for a "Face of IT" in the future.  This isn't to say that that person would want to be that way, but when you have an even tie it is something to consider.  Never is it a primary factor and it shouldn't be.
     



  • I seem to remember seeing a television show about hyperhydrosis, and I remember the show indicating that there was some treatment for it, though that it wasn't necessarily 100% effective. If you're really concerned about it you may want to look into some form of treatment.

     
    As for interviewing, I've been in the position to interview people before, and I honestly didn't care what they looked like or what they did (as long as it wasn't really really distracting). As long as they had good answers, and could back up their answers, I would rate them highly. I think what others have said about giving a short explanation if you need to mop your brow should be more than enough. You may even want to mention that it's hyperhydrosis which will give the interviewer something to look into if they're concerned that you were sweating way more than would be expected for an interview. It may help to put the interviewer at ease that it's not something more severe after the interview is over.



  • @un.sined said:

    I seem to remember seeing a television show about hyperhydrosis, and I remember the show indicating that there was some treatment for it, though that it wasn't necessarily 100% effective. If you're really concerned about it you may want to look into some form of treatment.

    I've got the same condition, and was friends with a girl in highschool who did as well.  A doctor once prescribed "Drysol", which is mentioned in this article, alongside a half dozen other brands:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_chloride

    It worked okay, but it wasn't that great.  My friend in highschool went all out and did Iontophoresis.  I'm not really sure how that worked out for her.  Supposedly, botox works wonders.

     
    Mine improved after graduating from high school, for the most part.  I find washing my hands when I start getting sweaty (i.e., frequently) helps a lot.  Since I'm mostly only affected in the palms, generally, I don't bother saying anything about it.  I'm still a bit anxious about handshaking, though.



  • @Gsquared said:

    It would depend on a number of factors.  The first being how noticable it is, the second being the weather at the time.  If it's 100 degrees out, and the inteviewee is sweating, I'm not going to pay attention to it.  If there's a foot of snow on the ground, and the interviewee is sweating like crazy, I'd definitely notice it.

    I wouldn't even worry about the weather.  I've worked in SO MANY offices that crank the heat up to around 80 degrees in the winter and set the AC to something like 60 degrees in the summer.  My "business casual" attire is always short sleeves and I always have a cardigan nearby.  It's ridiculous.

    Anyway, to answer the OP, I wouldn't think much about it if I was interviewing you.  Some people sweat more than others, and interviews are usually stressful for the interviewees.  Personally, it would never occur to me that you "had something to hide".   



  • @merreborn said:

    I've got the same condition, and was friends with a girl in highschool who did as well.  A doctor once prescribed "Drysol", which is mentioned in this article, alongside a half dozen other brands:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium_chloride

    So that's basically a really strong deodorant. The ones that advertise with "dry" use similar/same stuff. But if you overproduce sweat -- won't clogging them hurt your sweat glands?



  • To everyone that responded, I appreciate it. Some good thoughts and responses. Most signs lead to deciding not to really think about it that much and just go about impressing interviewers with answers. Which is what I was hoping!

     


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