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Should You Mention Your Divorce in a Job Interview?

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

A lot is going on in your life. You’re in the middle of a job search and a divorce simultaneously.

If you have an interview, you’re probably wondering how much of your personal issues you should divulge.

After all, a divorce can take anywhere from a few months to over two years to complete.

While you’re most likely hoping to be on the shorter end of that time frame, you will probably have some overlap if you land the job.

But that doesn’t mean you should share those details during your interview.

Managing Your First Impression

job interview
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Your priority during the interview should be to focus on your qualifications and what you can bring to the role, and let your work speak for itself.

Avoid Appearing Negative

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There’s long-standing advice running through the HR world that you should avoid bad-mouthing people during your interview.

While that advice is generally offered concerning previous coworkers and bosses, it’s also useful for your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Even if you’re in the middle of the most congenial split, the news might negatively affect the impression you leave with the hiring manager.

Upon hearing that you’re getting divorced, the hiring manager may assume that you won’t be able to focus at work or that you’ll bring drama with you.

Hiring managers may also hesitate based on the assumption that you’ll struggle with child care or uncertain living situations. So, it’s best to be left unsaid.

Prevent Illegal Discrimination

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According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), discussions about your marital status are off-limits in job interviews.

Most recruiters and hiring managers are well aware of and careful about not crossing the line to illegal questions that might call into question any discrimination during their hiring process.

If a hiring manager asks you about your marital or parenting status, you’re within your rights to simply say that it doesn’t apply.

If you feel that the question was asked with good intentions, you might soften your reply to something like, “I’m diligent about creating a separate work-life balance, so I’d prefer not to share.”

Highlight Your Career Fit

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Instead of getting wrapped up in discussing your personal life, focus on how you would excel at the job.

This is your chance to wow the interviewer with your professional achievements and aspirations.

Focus on Career Goals

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Many factors in a divorce can be the catalyst for your new job search. Perhaps you’re relocating or won’t have the necessary income otherwise.

Whatever the case, you might feel pressured to reveal your details during the interview.

It’s common for the recruiter to ask about your reasons for applying for the job. In that case, you want to be prepared with an answer that focuses on how the role aligns with your long-term career goals.

To ensure you’re ready, take the time to research the company and the position thoroughly.

Then, rehearse and practice, paying particular attention to any situational questions you’re afraid might throw you off and cause you to blurt out your troubles.

Share Relevant Pastimes

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It’s not uncommon for a hiring manager to ask you, “Tell me a little about yourself.”

When you’re in the middle of a divorce, it can almost feel like that is the actual definition of who you are at the moment. But instead of going down that road, prepare ahead of time to highlight a few hobbies or interests that support your personal brand.

For example, if you’re applying for an artistic or creative role, you might mention that you’re an avid photographer who can often be found outside most days at sunset.

You might mention your love of hiking if the position requires a highly energetic and motivated personality.

Regardless of what you choose to focus on, ensure that you’re selecting examples from your life that highlight how you’re the best fit for the role.

After You’re Hired

Man and woman shaking hands for a new job or employee hire
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Once you’ve landed the job, it’s not uncommon for your new co-workers to ask about your personal life.

If you don’t want to reveal the details of your divorce, you can keep it simple by saying that you’re in the middle of some personal changes.

Create a Refuge

Office worker
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When going through a lot of upheaval in your personal life, a new role that ignites your creativity can be the perfect solution for some mental breathing room.

By keeping your divorce details to yourself, you can walk in with a fresh start and leave that at the door for the day.

You’ll get a daily dose of escapism when you come to work in a brand new place without anyone knowing you as a part of a couple. Instead, this is a great way to start fresh and simply be you.

Update Necessary Legal Documents

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Once you land the job, you’re still under no obligation to share details about your divorce with your immediate supervisor. If you need to update information, such as your insurance or bank account information, you’ll generally be able to do that on your own.

If not, remember that you’re asking them to process information, but that doesn’t mean you have to share any extra details.

Embrace the Resources

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Many companies offer employee support resources for help with legal issues, along with mental and physical care. If you’re struggling to cope with the stress of your divorce, these are fantastic tools to have at your disposal.

You don’t need to share the specifics of what you’re dealing with to get referrals to counseling or other resources that can help you feel more stable and supported.

Embrace these benefits and allow yourself time to heal while still being able to show up and give your best at work.

Keeping the Focus on Your Skills

Happy man working in home office on laptop
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A divorce can be an incredibly challenging thing to go through, but it doesn’t have to mix in with your new job.

Focusing on your professional goals and strengths during your interview can set you up for success in a new role.

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