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Inappropriate interview question

(131 Posts)
stretchmarkqueenie Thu 19-Oct-17 08:41:05

Looking to return to work after being a SAHM for a year after my mat leave ended. In a job interview yesterday the interviewer asked me 'do you like being a mum?' AIBU to feel this isn't appropriate? To put this into context the question didn't come from a chat about children, it was during competency based questioning about the job so I was quite taken a back.

I am feeling all nervous about returning to work so I don't know if I'm overreacting but it's just thrown me a little, I was in professional mode and there to talk about my skills and what I can bring to the company so wasn't expecting personal questions like that. Of course something like 'what are your childcare arrangements?' I could totally understand but this felt a bit probing!

florenceandthefig Thu 19-Oct-17 09:00:17

More than anything it's strange.

I don't think it's inappropriate....if they'd said "do you like being a mum and will you have any more?" That would have been inappropriate

RueDeWakening Thu 19-Oct-17 09:04:22

I think it's inappropriate - would they ask a man if he liked being a dad? Seems unlikely.

Twickerhun Thu 19-Oct-17 09:05:08

Well I doubt that question is related to a competency for the job so yes it's unusual and potentially unreasonable

If you don't get the job it would be fair to ask if the answer you gave to that question had a bearing on the outcome and if other candidates were asked it too

AnUtterIdiot Thu 19-Oct-17 09:05:09

I think it's a weird question. It's not something I'd ask in an interview, because best practice (and the best way of ensuring that a recruitment process offers a level playing field to candidates) is to keep the questions asked as consistent as possible and relevant to the exercise. Obviously not all candidates can be asked if they like being a mum and I'm genuinely struggling to see how the answer to that question would help you decide if a candidate was competent to do any job.

Columbine1 Thu 19-Oct-17 09:05:18

Asking about childcare arrangements is not allowed! That's potential discrimination.
The best explanation I can muster is they were trying to assess your empathy?

MrsOverTheRoad Thu 19-Oct-17 09:06:20

Did you respond? Was the interviewer male or female? Not that that should matter...just interested!

AnUtterIdiot Thu 19-Oct-17 09:08:16

That said people who aren't massively familiar with best practice will ask apparently mad questions just to make conversation and without any intention of taking the response into account in making a decision. It's just that obviously from the candidate's point of view you assume that a question is asked because the interviewer thinks the answer is important for the interview.

Coastalcommand Thu 19-Oct-17 09:08:26

Could it be that it took the place of another question, which would have been about your current job?

AnUtterIdiot Thu 19-Oct-17 09:09:27

Besides, what are you going to say? "No, I hate it"?

RockNRollNerd Thu 19-Oct-17 09:11:54

Call me cynical but it sounds like someone trying to get round asking ‘do you want anymore children’ and thinking they are being clever about it. I’d not be impressed if one of my team asked someone that in an interview.

stretchmarkqueenie Thu 19-Oct-17 09:13:01

Interviewer was male, it went - finish answer to previous question, pause, then 'do you like being a mum?' It was very odd! He did then go on to ask about childcare arrangements, I didn't realise they can't ask that. It's an office job so I really don't think it was a relevant question to the work id be doing.

Incidentally I've just found out my application won't be taken any further sad

ethelfleda Thu 19-Oct-17 09:13:29

I don't think it's inappropriate at all. I was recently the interviewer (along with my boss) for my replacement (currently on maternity leave) and he asked male and female candidates similar questions that had nothing to do with work... whether it was 'what do you like doing in your spare time' and then asking them to elaborate on that. He did ask one woman about her new baby but only because he'd just recently had one and wanted to make small talk to put her at ease. Other times he was just waffling because I don't think he knew what else to ask!

stretchmarkqueenie Thu 19-Oct-17 09:15:07

I answered saying 'yes I do, I enjoyed my time at home with my child and now I'm looking forward to returning to work and continuing my career'

gamerwidow Thu 19-Oct-17 09:16:36

It is inappropriate because the interviewer in this case wasn’t doing it make small talk. It was asked in order to lead to a conversation about childcare which is not ok.
I wonder how many male applicants are quizzed on what childcare and emergency cover they have in place.

WillowWeeping Thu 19-Oct-17 09:19:48

You can ask about childcare. You can't discriminate based on someone's sex.

HermionesRightHook Thu 19-Oct-17 09:25:44

Actually asking about childcare is quite dodgy: it's an easy way to discriminate based on sex.

If they're not taking it any further anyway, I think I'd be having a good think about whether or not I could complain about this in some way - ask for feedback and ask them to confirm if all candidates were asked if they enjoyed their parental duties and about their childcare arrangements?

I've had a lot of interview training and experience and if I ever asked that of any candidate HR and my boss would be extremely displeased. We assume as you're applying for the job that you have childcare, and if it becomes an issue after we've made an offer (e.g. you need to start at 9:15 on Wednesdays) then we have a conversation about it.

DanHumphreyIsA Thu 19-Oct-17 09:29:19

It’s a very strange question if it’s part of the interview process, I think. Did the interview continue after or was that the last question?

If it was the last question before an informal chat etc maybe he was trying to make small talk, but awkwardly? Kind of like a ‘what do you like to do in your spare time’ question, but trying to tailor it to you.

Other than that I can’t see a valid or fair reason for the question.

Can you request feedback, now that you’ve not been hired? Obviously they won’t admit to not hiring you based on sex/parental responsibility, if thats the case, but it would be interesting to see what they do say.

Mummyoflittledragon Thu 19-Oct-17 09:31:19

I agree with Hermione. I can imagine you’d feel a lot better about the interview if you complained in some way. He sounded like an idiot. Maybe it’s a lucky escape.

Norma27 Thu 19-Oct-17 09:33:22

I went for an interview once where I was being interviewed by the director of my department, the senior manager and the hr director.
My dept director was quite elderley and pretty old fashioned and asked if I wanted to get married and have children. I genuinely believed he asked it just making conversation and being friendly! I think I replied no as that is what I thought. I was engaged 3 months later and pregnant one year later!

I got the job and he told me after that he got really told off for that question by hr. I actually wasn't offended and had I not got the job would not have considered taking it further. In other circumstances it might be different, for this role I had the least experience out of the other candidates (nil experience in fact) and went in at manager level.

SingingMySong Thu 19-Oct-17 09:35:36

It could be an interpretation of "do you enjoy your current role?" but even that sounds odd for a competency based interview.

Chewbecca Thu 19-Oct-17 09:35:59

I hope he asked every candidate about childcare arrangements & if they enjoyed being a parent.

NewDaddie Thu 19-Oct-17 09:38:14

It’s discrimination.

Personally I’ve been asked if I like being self employed before and lost roles. And the company was rightly concerned if I would be committed in the long term.

So I get the interviewers thinking, but it is against the law. Moreover current understanding (eg how flexible working can benefit an organisation) has shown that it is wrong.

FlowerPot1234 Thu 19-Oct-17 09:39:47

I would have asked him what competency such a question is supposed to measure. And how "yes I do" is scaled, as opposed to "no I don't".

It had nothing to do with measuring your competency to do your job and was a really stupid, underhand and absurd (in any context except a counselling session) question.

amusedbush Thu 19-Oct-17 09:41:18

This sort of stuff worries me as I'm planning to job hunt next year (I will be qualified for the next pay band around that time) and I will be 28 at that point. I am married and wear a ring so they can see that.

I know that they're not allowed to ask about your plans in that sense and I categorically do not want children but I worry that they'll assume and overlook me.

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