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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...

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