To think this isn't an acceptable interview question?

(85 Posts)
louloutheshamed Sun 19-May-13 09:15:24

A female colleague was asked in an interview for a high profile role whether or not having two young children would affect her ability to do the job. This makes Me so cross, and I want to encourage my colleague to challenge the interviewer about it, especially as man in our workplace was recently appointed to a Similarly demanding role, and also has children the same age as my colleague's. I highly doubt that he was asked that question!

They really shouldn't ask this, should they??


LoveItLongTime Sun 19-May-13 09:16:25

How did she answer?

HollyBerryBush Sun 19-May-13 09:18:51

Depends how it was phrased - "Are there outside influences that would prevent you from carrying out the role" is completely different. In my experience, it isn't working mothers who are problematic with sick children and so forth, its working daughters who have to dash off because one of their parents has failing health and this necessitates endless hospital appointments.

VelvetSpoon Sun 19-May-13 09:19:11

Unless they are asking every man with young children the same question, or asking a similar question to men/women without dependent children but with, say, elderly dependent relatives, then yes, it's completely unfair.

Companies should have learned about this shit by now tbh. 11 years ago when I was applying for jobs after nearly a year out on mat leave, I got asked these questions all the time. I ended up having to lie about why I'd been (effectively) unemployed for a year, and only got the job I did by not revealing I had children.

Depressing that over a decade on, nothing has changed.

Vividmemories Sun 19-May-13 09:21:24

I think legally they shouldn't - caring responsibilities are mentioned in the Equality Act 2010.

MushiMushi Sun 19-May-13 09:23:07

I think the interviewer is on shaky ground there. You're not allowed to ask questions about children, but like HollyBerry says it depends on how it was worded.

Numberlock Sun 19-May-13 09:26:51

The answer is "I've got all the arrangements in place to enable me to perform my role successfully, as can be seen from my <give examples frm previous roles>"

I'm damn sure they won't have asked men the same question. And the interviewer sounds like the type to ask "Who's looking after your children" at some point if she gets the job...

HollyBerryBush Sun 19-May-13 09:28:58

Although the Op hasn't asked the male colleague if he was indeed asked the same question. neither has she mentioned the gender of the interviewer - in my experience women are far harsher interviewers than men and tend to ask the more inappropriate questions under the guise of sisterliness.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 19-May-13 09:30:11

They shouldn't ask the question, but I can understand why they do.

Having dependants can affect your ability to do a job unless you have a strong support system, and if someone is going to be paying you to do a job, I think it's reasonable that they want to know that you will be able to do it.

tourdefrance Sun 19-May-13 09:32:45

I had 'how will you manage your work-life balance?' at an interview last year. It was an internal job and neither of the other 2 applicants (1 man with young dc, one single and childless woman) got asked it.

VelvetSpoon Sun 19-May-13 09:39:51

Clouds sorry, but how does simply asking that question ensure in any way that you'll be able to do the job? The interviewee could come out with any old crap in response (I know I did when I got asked stuff like that, because I thought it was a damned cheek).

Also I had no support system whatsoever when I went back to work (no living family, no friends with DC to 'help out') Should I and the thousands of single parents like me simply not work because we don't have an army of people to help us, just in case?!

FWIW, I have worked with many women (and men) who are in relationships, have family living locally, lots of friends etc, and they've had far more time off with DC-related emergencies, illnesses etc than I ever have.

EuroShaggleton Sun 19-May-13 09:40:15

God, this is depressing.

MsVestibule Sun 19-May-13 09:45:07

I hate it that interviewers still ask questions like this. Unfortunately, it is still women who carry out the majority of caring responsibilities, so this has to be discrimination, however they word the question.

My understanding of the law (although it may be out of date now) is that they are allowed to ask these questions as long as they ask everybody, whatever their sex.

IneedAyoniNickname Sun 19-May-13 09:45:13

I was asked that it all my midwifery uni interviews this year. I just answered it.

Friend was asked in a job interview, she refused to answer.

IneedAyoniNickname Sun 19-May-13 09:45:23

I was asked that it all my midwifery uni interviews this year. I just answered it.

Friend was asked in a job interview, she refused to answer.

Salmotrutta Sun 19-May-13 09:46:13

Clouds - it isn't reasonable to ask a female candidate if they aren't going to ask a male candidate too.

Men have children as well, funnily enough. hmm

louloutheshamed Sun 19-May-13 09:47:12

The interviewer was male.

I do plan to ask the male colleague if he was asked that, but I am pretty sure I know the answer.

I work ft with a 2yo and am pg again. I honestly feel I am better at my job since I had my ds.

Salmotrutta Sun 19-May-13 09:47:47

And yes MrsVestibule - I'm sure they are meant to ask everyone the same set of questions, otherwise it's not a fair interview!

CloudsAndTrees Sun 19-May-13 09:48:06

It doesn't Velvet, but if the question is asked, either in a roundabout legal way or a direct illegal way, then the interviewer can make a judgement based on the answer.

I've been a working single parent too by the way, and I have needed understanding employers at times, even with very healthy children who have never had any major emergencies.

I don't think it's wrong to admit that there are some jobs that just aren't compatible with having young children.

HollyBerryBush Sun 19-May-13 09:48:41

As a woman I think it's perfectly acceptable to ask, indirectly, if there are negative outside influences that may affect the role. That applies to men too. It doesn't just relate to childcare, it also relates to the increasing care of elderly parents, sporting activities and so forth. I wouldn't want someone who was perpetually in A&E or on crutches because his paintballing weekend had gone all wonky!

CloudsAndTrees Sun 19-May-13 09:49:18

I agree that it's unfair for women to be asked if men aren't, there are plenty of men that have the same level of childcare responsibility as women.

Salmotrutta Sun 19-May-13 09:50:00

If job is not compatible with young children then they shouldn't give it to men with young children either then Clouds?

Is that what you mean?

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 09:50:33

It's a perfectly reasonable question provided that the same was/would be asked of male candidates.


VelvetSpoon Sun 19-May-13 09:51:43

What jobs are incompatible with young children?

Salmotrutta Sun 19-May-13 09:52:58

I wondered that too Velvet - you could potentially argue all of them are incompatible...

DomesticCEO Sun 19-May-13 09:53:14

In my interview training I was told this question was illegal.

We haven't moved on much have we sad.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 19-May-13 09:56:13

A job that doesn't work for any person who has dependants shouldn't have to be given to them IMO.

It's not like employers are out there just looking for a chance to discriminate against women with children for the hell of it. They are trying to find the best person for a job. If the job often requires overtime a short notice or travel, then it's fair for that employer to know that the person they choose will be able to do that job, either because they have a supportive spouse/family/childcare arrangement, or because they don't have more important responsibilities that will prevent them from being able to do the role.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 09:57:03

But, having said what I have above we all know that the reality is that the majority of single parents are women and also women probably (I'm not saying definitely because there are no real stats on this AFAIK), but probably are more likely to be the ones taking time out if a child is sick/for holiday cover/childcare emergencies/hospital, dental, optical appointments/school concerts and meetings etc.

So regardless of whether it's fair it is understandable that someone might ask that question when the job might be adversely affected by repeated/short notice absences on the part of the employee. We shouldn't be blaming employers for that but should be looking at our own relationships, at how we raise our children and what expectations we teach them to have, at what expectations we have of our life partners with regard to the sharing of childcare.

MsVestibule Sun 19-May-13 09:57:11

Ah, but do they Salmo, do they???

I'll be looking for work soon and am currently practicing my responses to this question, which range from "shove your job up your arse, I don't want to work for a sexist company like this anyway" to a polite "all arrangements are in place to enable me to carry out this role successfully". Probably the latter because I'm not very confrontational in RL blush.

LoveBeingUpAt4InTheMorning Sun 19-May-13 09:58:13

Asking every the same question does not automatically make it an acceptable question.

HollyBerryBush Sun 19-May-13 09:59:16

You don't put children on your CV. You don't put career breaks either - not unless you can cover it with retraining, dabbling in your own business, bought a house that needed extensive renovations, went travelling - anything but children.

myfriendflicka Sun 19-May-13 10:01:00

Wake up Clouds and HollyBerryBush, it's illegal to ask those questions. See the Equality Act. The same question should be asked of male candidates, or don't ask it at all.

And wake up, other women fought for equality in the workplace and they are still fighting. Depressing that women in particularly turn out to argue self-righteously on threads that employers should be free to discriminate against them for having children.

I've been working since the early Eighties and yes, it is depressing that this sexist stuff still goes on.

VelvetSpoon Sun 19-May-13 10:03:57

I think it's bloody depressing that in the 21st century, working mothers still have to keep our children a secret, to conceal our mat leave from our CV. I worked in a job a few years ago where no-one knew I had children for at least a year, so paranoid was I about mentioning them.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:04:35

It's a perfectly acceptable question if put to both sexes IMHO, Love, although because of the nature of society and relationships in this country it might mean that the answer brings forth a greater number of suitable male candidates than it does females.

It may also bring forth a greater number of childless women candidates than candidates with children and that's perfectly acceptable too.

It's a fact that some jobs involving travel or with short notice requirements are not suited to those with children unless they have pretty much watertight support and childcare.

ElizaDoLots Sun 19-May-13 10:05:36

Tribunal waiting to happen

myfriendflicka Sun 19-May-13 10:06:03

FJL03 It's illegal to ask this question. Wake up.

Also people partners die, and that results in them being single parents.

Funnily enough, all the looking at your relationships shit in the world won't stop terminal cancer.

But hey, do keep fighting for an employers' right to discriminate against women, and single parents in particular because they are just not up to scratch. God, they just never learn do they? Those, poor, poor employers.

And do petition the Government to cut single parents' benefits because they haven't managed their relationships properly.

VelvetSpoon Sun 19-May-13 10:10:56

Funnily enough, I've managed being a lawyer, which involves travelling and overtime, lots of short notice changes and have worked (apart from mat leave) my DSs entire lives - they are now 12 and almost 15. As mentioned, I have no family support. I resent any implication that because I am a single parent, because my parents inconsiderately a) didn't have have more than 1 child, so I have no siblings and b) died when I was in my early 20s, I'm some huge risk as an employeee. When in fact I am far better at, my job, and take much more pride in it than any of my childless colleagues, or the male ones with DC.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:11:09

You're talking to just the right person about partners dying and being a lone parent, myfriendflicka, so spare me the fucking lecture please. hmm

I wasn't questioning the legality. I know the law, thank you, or at least that's what that certificate on my study wall says. I was saying what I feel, not what is. Read what I actually posted please and not what you want to see.

myfriendflicka Sun 19-May-13 10:13:15

Oh yes FJL03 let's hope your life is very smooth.

Let's hope your partner never leaves you or dies, you don't get ill yourself, your children don't get ill or get cancer or suffer a debilitating illness (that happens too) you don't suffer an accident or become disabled, your parents don't become infirm and need help and care.

I expect you are very young and think nothing that would cause you to take time off or need to arrange flexible working will ever happen to you. Because you manage everything tremendously well, and will have complete control over every bit of your life.

You wouldn't want to piss off your employer by taking time off or needing to consider your life outside work, would you? angry

myfriendflicka Sun 19-May-13 10:13:56

You don't know the law - and you were the one that was lecturing.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:14:04

Velvet, that's great and therefore your answer to the question in the OP would be, "Having 2 children won't affect my ability to carry out the job in the least as I have very well thought out provision for their care in place and back up should I need it".

The next candidate, male or female, might not have had the same answer and so would not have been suited to the job.

That's all I'm saying.

HollyBerryBush Sun 19-May-13 10:16:23

As I said - with 20 years union experience and a fairly good grasp of employment laws - there are ways and ways of asking the question.

Having had an interview where I was informed the induction course was in Rochdale I was asked whether 3 nights away would cause any problems. I was also asked if I could cover at other branches if short staffed which would have long travelling times.

All reasonable questions IMHO.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:17:08

flicka, you're talking bollocks. I do know the law and stated how I feel, not how the law stands. I made no comment as to how the law stands on this issue either way, in fact.

And I'm not young, much less "very young", I have, as I stated above, experienced lone parenthood as a result of my husband dying, my father is very ill and infirm and in need of care atm and I've dealt with the cancer too.

So take your assumptions and shove them love.

TwoFourSixOhOne Sun 19-May-13 10:20:50

I was asked how old I was AND how I would juggle childcare in my recent interview.


BearsInMotion Sun 19-May-13 10:21:50

As others have said, only acceptable if male candidates are asked too. Whilst it may be true that the majority of those taking children to emergency medical appointments are mothers, that's still irrelevant. It's their experience and skills you are recruiting them for, not stereotypical views based on their gender. If they have the same skills and experience as a male colleague, they are obviously managing just fine.

Thingymajigs Sun 19-May-13 10:24:10

I have been asked in an interview if I had sorted out my childcare, where the nursery was (just incase I was fibbing) and what would happen if I one of my children was unwell. This was a part-time job in a shoe shop. hmm I didn't get it obviously, it went to a childless student just like all of the other local retail jobs.
It does infuriate me that men wouldn't be asked the same question. I think the media should also be more responsible with their celeb interviews because I'm tired of hearing "How do you manage the work/home balance?" asked randomly of all female celebrities. They don't ask men the same banal questions.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:30:33

On a slightly different note, as an employer (yes, you got that wrong too, flicka), I would be inclined to look a little unfavourably upon the man who, when asked the question in the OP, replied with something to the effect that the missus deals with all that.

A friend recently who said just that. His skills were more or less equal with those of a mother of one who confided (without being asked) that she shared care with her husband and that she'd be able to carry out the job, including travel, barring extreme emergencies. FWIW I think my friend made the right choice.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 10:31:48

*Sorry, there's a stray "who" in my last post.

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 19-May-13 10:33:18

I think if you work, and are serious about it, you make damn sure that you have bombproof and watertight childcare arrangement. When mine were small (and when I was pregnant with DD2) I had a job that involved a lot of travel - I was away from home - a flight away, not in the next town, for two days most weeks. I had DH (whose job didn't involve travel), full time nanny and a back up nanny, in case there were any problems. Could I have done this as a single parent? I think yes, but nanny would have needed to be live-in.

I think there are ways of asking this question, and the way it was phrased is possibly not the right way, although they may get away with it if indeed they did ask it to the men with young children as well which I doubt they did.

TheBigJessie Sun 19-May-13 10:44:55

At my last interview, I was asked who would look after my children. (And that the company didn't like the idea of taking women away from children, while the children languished in nurseries...)

TwoFourSixOhOne Sun 19-May-13 10:53:47

I answered that my husband would be dealing with childcare as I'd done it all for the last ten years...

Numberlock Sun 19-May-13 10:57:59

How did that answer go down?

By the way I ask everyone I interview if they are happy to travel at very short notice, even same day. It doesn't suit everyone whether or not its due to child care issues.

Unfortunately I've had to go through the disciplinary procedure for someone who refused to travel, despite it being part of the contract.

FJL203 Sun 19-May-13 11:03:51

By coincidence this is on the Independent's website atm. It offers an interesting response to a lot of the points put on here.

Numberlock Sun 19-May-13 11:09:56

Tell me something I don't know.

itsaruddygame Sun 19-May-13 11:19:59

I employ a mainly female workforce (not because I don't want to employ men - it is just a female dominated industry and the at majority of job applicants tend to be female) and frankly I don't see why I should not be able to ask the question.

In my experience (rightly or wrongly) it does tend to be mums taking time off with poorly children or other child care problems and very few of my employees have partners that step up to the plate when the child is poorly. Our business involves caring for vulnerable people and unplanned absence is major issue - I need to ask these sorts of questions and don't see why people have such a problem with it. I would also ask male applicants (though rarely get them!) and do have some divorced dads on the team that can have similar issues.

I think child care issues are relevant to a persons ability to carry out some roles and as such should be openly disused (and I say this as a mother!).

hackmum Sun 19-May-13 11:23:19

Apart from being illegal, it's a stupid question. Who's going to say, "Damn you, you're right, my children are always falling ill and forcing me to take time off work as I haven't made any arrangements for someone to look after them. What is more, I'm such a ditsy female that I'm always thinking about my kids when I should be concentrating on work"?

itsaruddygame Sun 19-May-13 12:04:00

It is not a stupid question - it's a relevant question. I seriously think people should get over it. I have had employees that rarely let me down because they have arrangements in place to deal with, for example, minor illnesses in their children (that exclude them from organised childcare). This is particularly important for SME's without huge resources to draw on and for businesses in sectors where unplanned absence can cause major operational difficulties/risks to the business.

I am not sexist - I employ a lot of bright and talented women however childcare issues are important both to them and the business and should
Be discussed. Many women want to work flexibly so as to spend time with their children - some roles in our business can accommodate flexible arrangements more easily than others so why not discuss children and childcare at the outset? Don't get me wrong if someone apples for a full time job with set hours I don't presume they don't want to do that but some of the senior roles we have involve dealing with emergencies and staying late to sort them out. I have several mums working for me who happily take on these roles as partners/others take on the lions share of childcare. I have others who would not dream of not being there to collect their children at a set time and would rather have a role that enables them to do that.

Personally I think much of our current employment law has gone too far in favour of the employee and that businesses should be able to discuss and consider these issues.

ElizaDoLots Sun 19-May-13 19:11:30

'It is not a stupid question - it's a relevant question.' I beg to differ, because as you know it is unlawful to discriminate against women on this basis, so any company shoddy enough to ask such a question is taking a risk, not following best practice, and therefore raises questions about themselves as an organisation. I think it also assumes that the woman in question isn't intelligent enough to work out on her own how to manage both childcare and work. Besides, who is going to give an honest answer, if they haven't solved the problem of balancing child-care and work.

'I am not sexist - I employ a lot of bright and talented women however childcare issues are important both to them and the business and should
Be discussed. Many women want to work flexibly so as to spend time with their children - some roles in our business can accommodate flexible arrangements more easily than others so why not discuss children and childcare at the outset?' all very well, but what about men - do they not want to spend time with their children? My DH certainly does.

manicinsomniac Sun 19-May-13 19:25:32

I think it depends on the job. I work in a role where my children have to come second to my job.

My employers will always check if that is going to work for the people they interview. If it isn't then I don't see why the employer can't choose someone for whom it will work.

It's not discrimination (I'm a single parent of 2 with no local family support and I was still given my job), it's just making sure they get the person with the flexibility or attitude they want.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 19-May-13 19:33:20

Before I had kids I applied for a job that involved shifts and was asked in the interview if my boyfriend was going to mind me not been there to cook his dinner. Only 13 years ago! shock

Lovelygoldboots Sun 19-May-13 19:41:04

This thread is immensely depressing. When I left UNi 18 years ago I was asked several times what my plans were for starting a family. I have been a sahp now trying to return to work and opinions clearly haven't changed. We are expected to be robots, not humans with lives who may or may not need time off. As women we are clearly not allowed the opportunity to join the workplace unless we can prove watertight childcare arrangements. Sorry, but this attitude stinks. If employers have a capable woman applying for a job she should be offered that job. End of.

Noorny Sun 19-May-13 19:43:24

It is ILLEGAL but I have been on the receiving end of that question too.

I got the job but declined the offer.

flowery Sun 19-May-13 19:55:10

Everyone who keeps stating with authority that these questions are illegal, they are not . There is no list of questions that cannot be asked at interviews, despite a persistent belief that that is the case.

It is illegal to discriminate in recruitment, and an employer who asks only female candidates about childcare arrangements is likely to find itself vulnerable to discrimination claims, but that doesn't mean it's illegal to ask. Not very sensible, especially if you have a mix of male and female candidates, but not illegal.

For those who want to ask something along those lines, the acceptable and reasonable thing to do is explain carefully the requirements of the job in terms of hours/flexibility/travel etc, then ask all candidates whether that would present any problems. All you can do really.

SizzleSazz Sun 19-May-13 20:00:43

I agree with Ruddy to an extent - I will not lie about having children and that means they know I can't always travel at short notice (as I did frequently pre DC). I got my current senior role being open and honest which was appreciated by my prospective employer.

I actually got them to offer me an advertised FT role on a PT basis and said I would do everything in my power to meet out of hours requests. I have been able to be flexible every time they have asked it of me but they know that if I say no, it means I really have no choice.

Noorny Sun 19-May-13 20:05:40

Actually Flowery it IS illegal. I take a lot of legal advice running my own businesses and there are certain questions that are not permitted.

flowery Sun 19-May-13 21:13:37

Well if your advisers are telling you there is a list of not permitted questions you need new ones.

I spend my days giving employment law advice to small business owners, and my clients all know that there is no such list.

espressotogo Sun 19-May-13 21:27:09

I was asked at an interview (by a man) "you have 2 children how will that work ?" I replied " I've always worked and I have child care in place". The job was given to a man (it was between me and him), I suspect on the say so of this guy ( the agency had told me i was the prefered candidate by my prospective line manager) who was the third interviewer ( a director)but not my prospective line manager. Anyway, six months down the line they contacted me again and said the man they employed was not up to the job and could I come and see them.

I had another job by then but had really wanted this other one so I joined them and it has worked out really well. They are really happy with me and I feel in a really strong position as they made a huge mistake ( they admit) by not choosing me in the first place. Kids or not, I am much more competent than their first (wrong) choice !

ElizaDoLots Sun 19-May-13 22:10:11

'Actually Flowery it IS illegal. I take a lot of legal advice running my own businesses and there are certain questions that are not permitted.' It's not illegal to ask the question - it is illegal to discriminate according to the answer given. The questions are probably not advised, because it is hard to prove that you have asked them of male and female. I agree with Flowery, you either need new advisers, or they are patronising you by dummying down employment law for you.

ElizaDoLots Sun 19-May-13 22:12:17

'I agree with Flowery, you either need new advisers, or they are patronising you by dummying down employment law for you.' - sorry, that didn't even make sense! You either need new advisers, or you need to ask them not to over-simplify the information they give you.

badguider Sun 19-May-13 22:16:55

why did the interviewer know she had two young children? i wouldn't tell any prospective employer that kind of information until after i had secured the job.
[i guess if she had a big gap on her cv she might have had to tell them why? but if it was just normal mat leave then you don't need to declare that as you're still 'employed' from x date to y date]

2rebecca Sun 19-May-13 22:21:05

There are still alot of women who don't have childcare options if their children become sick and so do then take time off work. men are less incined to do this. There have been threads on mumsnet by mothers complaining that their employer was unsympathetic to their child's illness and alot of "just pull a sickie" type replies, with fewer "get the child's father to look after them" replies.
I'd rather an employer asked me a question about my children and childcare arrangements than just decided not to give me the job because I was of childbearing age and they didn't dare ask me about childcare.

I agree the question isn't illegal as long as you ask all applicants.

Shakey1500 Sun 19-May-13 22:24:02

I work ft with a 2yo and am pg again. I honestly feel I am better at my job since I had my ds.

Are you a bed tester? grin


espressotogo Sun 19-May-13 22:35:17

Why did the interviewer know she had 2 children ?

Bad guider - to answer your question, this was the 2nd round of interviews and in a previous one with a female interviewer ( another director) we had got onto the subject of children as she had young dcs too. I felt no need to hide the fact I had kids as I had progressed in my career very successfully since having them

I assume that this info must have been shared !

I have great satisfaction now when I see this guy and know that he has heard great things about the work I am doing !

StuntGirl Mon 20-May-13 02:47:27

It is not illegal to ask the question. It is illegal to ask it only to female candidates, and it is illegal to discriminate based on the answer, but the question itself can be asked.

However, due its loaded nature, and the fact there a hundred better ways of phrasing the question to find the information you need, and recruiter worth their salt would simply avoid it like the plague.

Your recruiter is either inexperienced or stupid, either way I would investigate further and complain if necessary.

StuntGirl Mon 20-May-13 02:53:13

Actually let me rephrase - its bad practice to ask it of only female candidates as you leave yourself wide open to discrimination claims; if it can be proven you asked only female candidiates then you will be found guilty of discrimination, which is illegal.

My main point still stands. Good recruitment agents/interviewers will not ask the question as it is unneccesary.

nooka Mon 20-May-13 03:06:11

I've never even been asked if I had children, and would be surprised if I was asked because it has nothing to do with my competency for the role in question. I would appreciate being told if a job really had lots of travel, anti-social hours or regular last minute crisis, because it would affect whether or not I would accept a position, but really that should be spelled out in advance so that candidates who would not be interested in working like that don't go through the work of applying for a job that doesn't fit their life.

If I was asked such a direct question I would simply answer 'no'. I'd be interested to see how that was followed up, and agree it would be a rather pointless question - who in their right mind would say 'yes', as it's such a leading question. I've interviewed plenty and never been tempted to ask what to me is a stupid question.

MidniteScribbler Mon 20-May-13 03:34:46

I do think it depends entirely on how a question is phrased. I'm on leave at the moment, but applied internally for a leadership position to commence when I return. It was a discussion at my interview with the head because the role would require more attendance at out of school hours events, attending overnight camps and also some travel to conferences. It is actually completely relevant to know that as a single parent, I had put measures in place to have adequate childcare and provisions for him to be cared for overnight if I need to go away. I see it as no different to needing a drivers licence to drive the mini bus or a first aid certificate.

I think that sometimes people look for things to get offended about. "Do you have adequate care to be able to work after hours or weekends which are a fundamental requirement of this job?" I don't have a problem with, and in fact, I think it shows a level of professionalism to show that you have thought about it and made arrangements. It's a bit like asking someone if they have a drivers licence when the job needs you to drive around town. It's not discrimination to ask if a candidate has the tools to be able to do the job effectively. Someone missing out on a job because they can't attend overnight trips or do night shifts for any reason is not discrimination. If you can't do the job, then you shouldn't be applying for it, and it's women who apply for jobs, lie in interviews, then turn around and say they can't do a vital component of that job that they were made well aware of at interview because they don't have adequate child care are why employers even need to ask in the first place.

Asking if someone is planning on taking a day off if their child is ill, or if they are planning more children is completely unacceptable. Asking if you can do the job is not.

nooka Mon 20-May-13 05:26:16

I would be irritated if I was asked if I had care in place (partly because the assumption is that this is my sole responsibility) but not if I was asked would working overnights etc be a problem for me. Because it could be a problem for a whole raft of reasons, from personal preference through to caring responsibilities (and not just of children). The second question is something that I'd expect to be posed to every candidate, the first I'd be surprised if a man was asked, thus making me think that there was discrimination at play.

Of course for an internal interview it is very different as those interviewing know you and your personal circumstances, and the interviewing process may well be much less formal (which is both good and bad).

kickassangel Mon 20-May-13 05:37:27

But there is a big difference between saying, "this job requires x y z hours, are you aware of that and able to commit to it?" And asking about childcare.

At interview a person's private life should not be mentioned, you are seeing who is the best candidate for the job. So long as their personal life doesn't impact unnecessarily on the job, it has nothing to do with the employer.

I can't imagine that they would ask about what sports you do, but I know plenty of people who have ended up unfit for work due to sport events at weekend, anything from hung over/tired after a tournament to a dislocated elbow needing 6 weeks off work and unable to go on a critical work trip to see a client.

MidniteScribbler Mon 20-May-13 06:13:56

angel, there is a big difference between an unforeseeable injury or accident, or even taking care of your children/family/cat when they're sick and the parent who lies to get a job, then on the first day turns around and says 'oh, I need to leave at 3pm everyday to get my kids from school' despite being told at interview that the job required someone there until 5pm.

Tee2072 Mon 20-May-13 06:43:30

Thank you flowery I was wondering if the question is actually illegal or if deciding on a candidate based on the answer was.

In the US, no question is illegal. But some are certainly stupid.

Lovelygoldboots Mon 20-May-13 06:47:24

Midnitescribbler, why would any parent accept a job offer and leave two hours early when they knew the terms and conditions? As long as a candidate is aware of what is expected of them and the employer has clearly stated the terms and conditions of employment then that is enough. Most jobs have pretty regular hours and most parents manage to sort out childcare.

I was asked a similar question at an internal interview. Being young and naive I didn't think to question it (I didnt have children at the time) although looking back it was obvious why they asked (the person asking was an old childless woman known for a shitty reputation to working mothers).

CombineBananaFister Mon 20-May-13 09:16:17

Most job vacancies I've seen are usually very specific about what the role entails and the hours you need to fulfill, so questioning someone on this is almost like saying you don't believe they can do it?

Fair enough asking about skills and other stuff but to ask about the basics which are clearly outlined (especially when it relates to childcare/children) feels off.

Having read the stuff on here am really pleased with the attitude of my employer towards recruitment who value a balanced workplace and acknowledge the strengths/loyalty working mums bring to the team - some career focused, some just wanting a part-time consistent wage.

The interview is problem-solving and role-play based so only takes into account your ability to deal with that not anything else -makes it a really fair playing field.

They even look at their vacancies to see if they can be broken down to fit different lifestyles - weekend onlys, during school hours or evening onlys. That way everyone wins smile

MrsMelons Mon 20-May-13 09:24:35

One of the questions we have asked to ALL candidates was around how they would manage outside influences etc, never specifically about young children as we wouldn't necessarily know that much information about a person. If it was an internal candidate we would treat them the same as the external ones. This question is more around seeing if the candidate is will to attend training courses, do different hours etc which is perfectly reasonable depending on the job, ie teachers would be expected to do parents evening etc.

IMO how a person will manage their childcare is no one elses business. If I was applying for a full time job with demanding hours I would not expect allowances unless it was supposed to be flexible and it had been discussed in this way. I would ensure I could do the job and all in entailed and would be a bit offended if I was specifically asked about my children.

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