Job hunting tip #7

A friend of mine was recently asked the following question:

Are you planning to have kids?

A personal question, to be sure, but not particularly worrying or intrusive. Unless you are in a job interview. Yes, indeed, my friend was asked that question in a job interview in the European Union in the 21st Century. An employment agency asked her this question in the first round of interviews, so she asked me how should should answer it if the hiring company also asked.

Now, it could well be that the company wanted to know so that they could point out their fabulous on-site crèche facilities and their wonderful approach to flexi-time. However, it is more likely they wanted to know how much of a risk this potential employee was.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment though. Even in the case of a wonderfully supportive attitude towards working parents, the question is wrong because it immediately makes the candidate feel threatened.

“Why are they asking? Might they not give me the job if I want to have kids?”

Putting aside the legality of the question, there is a simple answer you can use to deflect it:

“I am unable to have children.”

Of course, I hope that isn’t true and if at some point in the future you do find yourself expecting a baby, you can gush to your employer:

“My doctor says it’s a medical miracle!”

The hiring company did ask, by the way, and my friend did indeed tell them that she couldn’t have children. I understand there was an uncomfortable silence for a moment. The discomfort belonged to the interviewer, of course.

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

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