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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??


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.

CreatureRetorts Mon 20-May-13 06:55:13

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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