What's your sickness record like?

  | James Innes

What's your sickness record like?

Alternative and related questions:

How many days did you take off sick last year and why?
What would your current employer say if I asked them about your sickness record?
How’s your health?

The meaning behind the question:

Time is money or, more particularly, your time is your employer’s money. No employer likes to lose money through staff being off sick. By directly questioning you on this topic the interviewer can gauge whether you are likely to be reliable in your attendance at work – or whether you might pose a liability.

Your answer:

It may well be tempting to give the interviewer a glowing account of your complete lack of illness. However, it is important to remember that the interviewer will most likely be seeking a reference from your last boss – and this is just the kind of fact that they may well check up on!

If you have been absent from work as a result of a significant illness or a major accident then you will have to disclose this – but do not be embarrassed or defensive about it. The interviewer should appreciate that these things do happen and, as long as they are not given any reason to suspect that you were ‘faking it’, you should have nothing at all to be worried about. And if they’re not understanding about this then do you really want to work for them anyway? If the incident was recent then it’s obviously important to emphasise that the issue is now completely resolved and you are fully fit for work.


Generally, I have a very good sickness record. I’m rarely off work as a result of illness. I was unfortunate last year to catch flu and also to suffer a bout of food poisoning. These both kept me off work for a few days – but only a few days. I’m fit and healthy and I recover quickly. A year can easily go by without my taking a single day off sick.

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