3 min read


You have a co-worker who is clinically diagnosed with depression. She calls in sick and unable to get out of bed very often. 6 months into the year, she has been away from work a total of 10 weeks. This is a small company with few employees, resulting in less productivity in the workplace. Moreover, she has become difficult to work with, as she is very sensitive and unable to accept any criticism.

Questions to the Applicant

1. What is going through your mind?

This is a sensitive situation as clinical depression requires attention, support, and the proper means to recover. On the contrary, with a co-worker that is constantly missing in an already small company, there will be greater pressure on other employees to ensure productivity remains the same. I acknowledge the co-worker needs help and support, but the company will need to take necessary steps to ensure there is no burnout or frustration that carries over in the rest of the team.

2. If you were the boss, what would you do?

I would sensitively reach out to her and find out how she is coping, how best the company can support her, ensuring she feels like a valued member of the team. I also would request a doctor’s note confirming the diagnosis, which would verify her claim to ensure I can use the rights I may have through company policy to offer sick leave. I would ask if she has access to resources such as the company’s health insurance, if not, I will ensure she has the support she needs. During this discussion, should I learn that she has all the support she needs but is going through the journey of recovery, I would offer her the opportunity to take some paid sick leave, to allow her to pursue recovery without the additional stress of work. That would enable her to focus on recovery, but also enable me to find a temporary employee to cover her position in her absence to ensure that company goals and objectives are still achieved. When she is feels strong enough to return to work, I would ensure her job is available for her. It is important to realize that mental illness should be treated in the same way as we would a physical illness. 

3. Tell us about a time you had to support a friend or colleague during difficult times?

My friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery followed by months of chemotherapy. This was a difficult time for my friend and her family. Though I could not do anything to change the diagnosis, I supported my friend and her family. I would make meals once a week that I delivered to their home, go to hospital visits with them whenever I could, and I invited my friend out to fun events occasionally to help her find the opportunity to relax. Eventually, her mother recovered and is now doing well and my bond with my friend is stronger than ever. This situation taught me the value of supporting others during difficult times, and the big impact of small acts of kindness. These are lessons I will use to continue to serve my community. 

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I have a question concerning the approach the boss took for this situation: is this not gaslighting the individual by automatically assuming that their absence, performance and sensitivity is due to their depression? Would it not be more appropriate to address the work related concerns of the individual and allow them to discuss whether it is related to their depression or other extenuating concerns? Thank you.


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello A.B. Thanks for your comment. You can certainly try approaching your colleague to discuss whether their issues stem from something else. This will show that you want to gather more information as well.



Would I be able to write such long answers in 5 minutes for 3 questions. Are such detailed answers required?


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Amrita! Thanks for your comment. The example answers here are supposed to demonstrate the logic and strategy behind structuring your answers. Remember that your answers do not have to be this long to get a great score, as long as you stick to the structure! Let us know if we can help in any other way!