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Good response I can pull out of my back pocket!

(23 Posts)
MissSueFlay Mon 04-Apr-16 19:42:15

I am about to start looking for a new job, the first time I have done so since having DD.

One of the things I'm a bit concerned about is the informal, post-interview small-talk that can sometimes happen - when you're being shown out, waiting for the lift etc. I know interviewers are not able to ask you about your children / plans for a family. But how should I respond if, once the formal interview is over, they say something like 'blah blah... do you have children?' How can you respond to that without coming over all clammed-up because technically they shouldn't be asking me this, or leaving them with a metaphorical post-it note on my interview notes saying 'Mother' with all the assumptions that often brings...

Anyone have a good response I can keep in my back pocket for this kind of scenario?!

butteredmuffin Mon 04-Apr-16 19:46:55

Do you have any children?

I think it is quite unlikely that they would bring this up in conversation, for the reasons you mention. But if they do, I would just answer honestly. If someone is going to think twice about whether to employ you just because you have children, then perhaps you should think twice about whether you want to work for them.

MissSueFlay Mon 04-Apr-16 20:02:24

Yes, I have DD who is nearly 4 - it's the first time I've gone job-hunting post having had a child. I work in a very corporate environment where there definitely is that 'unconscious bias' so I guess I just want to be as prepared as I can be for that kind of question if it ever arose.

DoreenLethal Mon 04-Apr-16 20:08:02

I have honestly never been asked this.

'Why - are you offering?' is one response.

SpaceKablooie Mon 04-Apr-16 20:12:21

I don't think it's illegal for them to ask that actually, it's just illegal for them to negatively discriminate against you I the basis of your answer.

MissSueFlay Mon 04-Apr-16 20:12:28


That's good to hear Doreen

SpaceKablooie Mon 04-Apr-16 20:12:35

* on

chocoshopoholic Mon 04-Apr-16 20:21:32

I have never asked or been asked this. You could have a variety of conversation starters to use so that you're on territory that you're comfortable with. I work in a city centre building that's about 2 years old so for somewhere like here...
- what's the parking like around here?
- the building is lovely, how long have you been here? Is it much of change to where you were before (gives an insight into how the team view change).
- have you been to the gym/restaurant/ place of interest across the road?

bloodyteenagers Mon 04-Apr-16 20:23:52

Bounce it back. Why do you have children?

FuzzyOwl Mon 04-Apr-16 20:29:04

I have had this when being shown out after an interview and it always amazes me the number of people who don't realise the person showing you around an office/building and escorting you through security afterwards are also assessing your suitability for the job, so I can understand the OP wanting to be prepared. The best thing I can suggest is to have something lined up that you will talk about to prevent them being able to get the question in.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 04-Apr-16 21:02:28

I think it's quite difficult to prevent them asking you in the guise of small talk.

The point for me is that it is a guise, it is manipulation, it is direct bias.

And because of that I'd have no hesitation in lying. And I don't know why people don't do that more.

butteredmuffin Mon 04-Apr-16 22:56:40

I wouldn't lie, but FuzzyOwl's suggestion of making sure you have plenty of other things to talk about is a good one. Make sure you think of lots of questions that are relevant to the job, keep the interviewer on topic, and hopefully it won't come up. And if you get any more general questions like, "What do you like to do in your spare time?" or "Have you got any holidays coming up?" make sure you have answers which don't refer to your children. Even if they ask about your family in a more general sense, without referring to children specifically, you could say something like, "I grew up round here, my parents live near ..." or, "I'm originally from .... and most of my family still live there."

Temporaryanonymity Mon 04-Apr-16 23:05:24

I'm rather upfront about my family commitments. I'm a lone parent and work full-time, and the organisations I choose to work for need to accept that I need the flexibility. If I get a hint that they won't I walk away.

I approach the job interview as a negotiation. It makes no sense for me to present myself as someone who is able to work beyond my family commitments but I set out what I can offer in open terms. Yes, I need to be back for end of after school club but I can work in the evenings when they are in bed and with enough notice, get someone else to pick them up.

If they prepared to trust me on this they aren't right for me, and the interview and offer stage is where I hammer this down.

I appreciate that this isn't what you asked but I'll also share that I recruit on behalf of the organisation and the colleagues I've worked with over the years have never displayed any bias against working parents.

Good luck.

daisychain01 Tue 05-Apr-16 05:39:53

It's so sad that in 21st century and with protective laws to control discrimination that women still have to plan to not reveal they have children. Not a reflection on us rather it shows discrimination must still be alive and kicking to have to do that. I know lots of hands on Dad's but they never have to worry about those questions sad

MissSueFlay Tue 05-Apr-16 08:10:02

Spot on daisychain - I was talking about this with DH last night and he just totally doesn't get it. 'No-one's ever asked me that' - well no, you're a man! I don't think I did really until I had DD and saw some subtle shifts at work on my return from mat leave.

I totally agree with FuzzyOwl that the post-interview chit-chat is as much part of the interview process as the formal bit, and I approach it as such. I would never lie if asked outright, I think that's just setting yourself up for exposure and bad feeling from the off. But I would certainly like to be able to get through a first interview without mentioning it - it would obviously have to come up at some stage as I would need to arrange things like early starts etc. to accommodate my share of drop-offs & pick-ups.

It seems the way to do it is to have some small-talk topics prepared and steer the chit-chat, and be confident enough to do that!

daisychain01 Tue 05-Apr-16 09:03:40

MissSue thinking about this some more, I wonder if it may be worth thinking about heading off the DC questions by "doing it to them before they do it to you". By that I mean could you talk about DD in terms of how well she is doing, how she is taking to nursery like duck to water, and the reason you are now keen to .move forward with your career is that it is good for your family all round (happy mum, happy child and all that).

That's only if the topic crops up of course, but it may mean you are not on the back foot and they will be impressed you have everything sussed.

I know if I were recruiting someone and I felt they had considered their home life balance, it would be a real positive.

Coconutty Tue 05-Apr-16 09:10:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Frizzuk1986 Tue 05-Apr-16 20:13:39

I brought my daughter up at my interview as I had only returned from maternity leave a few weeks before and I wanted them to hire me exactly as I was.
I mentioned that as my daughter is young and just started nursery I wanted to set an example and have a reason for her to be in nursery full time by excelling in a new and challenging role.
They offered me the job and even extra money when I turned them down.

oldlaundbooth Tue 05-Apr-16 20:22:12

Someone recently asked me at an interview 'You don't have kids in school, do you?'

I replied no. DS is at nursery, but not in school grin

As a PP said, I'd avoid the question by taking initiative and asking them questions.

LunaLunaLovegood Tue 05-Apr-16 21:13:52

You could always say 'my husband has a daughter, he's a great dad! She's a lovely girl I'm very fond of her'...

Lanark2 Tue 05-Apr-16 21:16:46

Could you say 'I don't have any planned' and be 100% truthful and also evasive and tactical (they might like tactical grin)

Lanark2 Tue 05-Apr-16 21:17:16

Oh Luna.. Better call! smile

WhereInTheWorldToNext Sun 10-Apr-16 16:50:13

I don't think it's necessary to avoid the question (although I do think it's unlikely that you'll be asked).

On the occasions I've been interviewed I've always mentioned that I have DC.

I take the view that as a 30-something woman the likelihood is that the interviewers will assume I have DC and since mine are a bit older and settled it makes sense for me to make that clear.

Can you say something positive re work life balance?

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