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Disclose or not? Effect of impression management tactics on hireabililty of persons with epilepsy

Epilepsy News From: Thursday, February 02, 2017

Connie Sung, Chien-Chun Lun, Annemarie Connor, Fong Chan. Epilepsia 2017, 58: 128-136.


Often people with epilepsy have problems getting or keeping a job or are underemployed for their education and skills. This happens at a higher rate than the general population. Since employers are less likely to hire people with seizures, job seekers are hesitant to disclose their epilepsy. Worrying about and experiencing job problems can lead to low self-esteem and confidence and can create many financial and other practical problems for many people.

A study supported by the Epilepsy Foundation tested the use of assertive impression management tactics on the results of job interviews for people with epilepsy. Impression management tactics are ways that people can influence how they are perceived by others and protect their self-image. Examples of impression management approaches used include:

  • Personal storytelling - describes work experiences, challenges, or skills
  • Self-promotion - stresses positive information about themselves and their abilities and addresses their disability in a positive way

Description of Study

In the study, 99 graduate students majoring in business or human resources were asked to watch video clips of people with epilepsy applying for a job. The students had at least one year of experience in hiring and conducting job interviews. The students were randomly assigned to watch one of three 15-minute video clips of a person interviewing for a technical computer sales position. The videos featured actors in the following scenarios:

  • A job applicant that did not disclose their epilepsy.
  • A job applicant with epilepsy that did disclose but did not use impression management tactics.
  • A job applicant with epilepsy that used impression management tactics to disclose their epilepsy, discuss the effect of the disability on job performance, and negotiate job accommodations.

After viewing the videos, participants rated the job applicant in terms of general impressions and hireability (ability to be hired) for the position. 

A Summary of Study Findings

  • Impression management had a positive effect on job interview outcomes for people with epilepsy.
  • General impression scores between the applicant who did not identify any disability and the applicant who didn't use impression management when disclosing their epilepsy were not significantly different.
  • Notably, general impression scores were highest in a person with epilepsy who used impression management. Their rating was better than both a person who did not identify any disability and a person with epilepsy who did not use impression management.
  • Impression management can be used to challenge negative perceptions towards people with epilepsy held by employers. 

Take Away

Impression management tactics, like personal story-telling and self-promotion, could be very helpful for people with epilepsy in an interview setting. 

For more information about employment, visit our page on Finding Employment

Reviewed Date

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

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