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I have my first job interview in 5 years next week ... should I mention the children?

(10 Posts)
FrozenNorthPole Wed 06-Jul-11 15:23:36

I'm just coming to the end of my funded MA and PhD period and a couple of decent job openings have come up in a nearby university. I've applied to the first one and have been shortlisted, and the interview's next week. I know that I'm well qualified to do the job and I'm likely to have considerably more research experience than other applicants (most of whom will not have a PhD, and may not have an MA/MSc).

BUT ... knowing my field of work, they're all likely to be very early twentysomethings without domestic responsibilities, fresh out of university. I'm well aware that I'm not going to be as able to do 'flexible working' (i.e. all the hours God sends) and that I will stand out as someone older. To make it worse, I've already had to mention my maternity leave on my CV (have taken two periods, 6 months and 8 months) because otherwise it looks like I've taken far longer than usual to do my PhD.

So - do I mention it? Are they allowed to mention it? Will they even care? I'm so acutely aware of how much having children can complicate my life that maybe I'm overestimating how much of a disadvantage having children will actually be. Aaaargh ... I want to walk into the interview and just focus on the job and the skills required, but I worry that there'll be an elephant in the room if I don't mention it. It doesn't help that DH cannot ever drop the girls or pick them up from nursery, and works long hours, so I KNOW that if they're ill or similar it will always fall on me.

Maybe I shouldn't have applied for the job at all. I'm truly spoiled by the level of independence and working from home that doing a PhD affords blush

OfflineFor30Years Wed 06-Jul-11 16:39:00

I wouldn't mention it; you may talk yourself out of a job. Use the interview to promote yourself and your abilities, and subtly gauge what the working enviroment is like - whether long hours is the norm etc, but without stating that it would be a problem for you.

If you're successful in the interview then you can think about whether it fits in with your lifestyle and perhaps talk it through with the recruitment consultant (if you've used one).

I also have a DH who can't reliably pick up DC or take time off for emergencies, so it always falls on me. I leave at 5pm on the dot most days, but arrange extra childcare during busy periods when I suspect I'll be late. I also have the ability to log on from home so if I don't finish something off in the office before I have to dash, I can do it later. Perhaps you would be able to do something similar?

Anyway, loads of luck and be confident!!

LadyLapsang Wed 06-Jul-11 20:39:02

Surely if you are competing with new graduates you will be an absolute bargain for them with a Masters and PhD.

Don't mention the children unless you absolutely need to - but no point in lying I think e.g. if you know overnights at short notice will be problematical don't say they won't be a problem if asked a direct question (unless you know you can sort it out).

Just a small point to think about (not relating to the interview) 'DH cannot ever drop the girls or pick them up...he works long hours...if they are ill it will always fall on me', this attitude is really old fashioned, OK if you are a SAHM and have surrendered your career but you are highly educated woman. Unless you are working entirely for your self-satisfaction and he is a hedge fund manager, I think he needs to change his attitude and behaviour.

MovingAndScared Wed 06-Jul-11 21:30:13

Agree don't mention the children - its obvious you have them from your work history - and universities in theory have quite strict rules on recruitment so probably won't ask
Have to say agree with above probably your DH has had it easy with you studying - but could he do go into work a bit later /leave earlier sometimes -my DH did school run once a week for instance - and I guess he gets AL too - so if kids are ill in theory he could use it as well -

FrozenNorthPole Thu 07-Jul-11 10:19:19

Lots of really helpful stuff here, thank you so much! I'm definitely going to update after the interview: it's next Wednesday.

I should have been more specific in my first post re: DH - he's an army doctor. When he's in the UK, he works > 1hr away by train and has to be at work by eight to start sick parade. If he has to cancel surgeries then there's not usually anyone to take his patients as most of the time he's the only doctor in the garrison. He was away for three months earlier this year, at short notice, and we're expecting another deployment early next year. I, erm, have been known to gripe about all this a bit blush esp re: my own career plans.

Okay, so the consensus is basically not to mention the children, ask questions to gauge the nature of the working environment and respond honestly if asked about 'flexible working' that I would have no chance of being able to do. I guess, if I was offered the job, I could then ask about opportunities to work from home on occasion when needed? Thank you for the ideas about how to work around emergencies etc. Ladylapsang - thank you for saying that I sound like a bargain smile: I think my confidence is pretty low given the state of the academic jobs market but I think this is a case of fake it to make it in order to seem reasonably self-assured in the interview. Offline - yes, talking myself out of a job would be my worry; I'm too verbose at the best of times! Moving - thanks for reminding me that, on paper at least, having children isn't meant to put me at a disadvantage.

Now I've just got to work out what fits what to wear grin

OfflineFor30Years Thu 07-Jul-11 12:15:04

As an aside - Don't let DH being in the army stop you from doing what you want to do. My DH is too and I spent months saying I couldn't get a job because he's always on exercise/working funny hours/being deployed, and then suddenly I thought fuck it, I didn't spend years training to end up as an "army wife" and I want to go back to work, so I've been working FT since March and so far, it's been manageable. [though he's off again for a few months in Sept so that may change!]

All you can do is give it a go, and if it doesn't work then at least you've tried. Best of luck.

GetOrfMoiLand Thu 07-Jul-11 12:21:42

Good luck - I agree DON'T mention the children.

turkeyboots Thu 07-Jul-11 14:02:05

Good Luck, but do have an answer prepared in case they ask about childcare etc. They shouldn't ask, but some interviewers will, so have an answer ready which reassures them while implyiying its none of their business.

cazinge Thu 07-Jul-11 23:33:22

I think you are assuming 'flexible working' means working all hours. In my organisation (public sector) there are a lot of gripes among the non-parents that 'flexible working' only benefits those with children. Some of the flexible working options where I am include;
- 9 day fortnight (compressing 10 days work into 9 days therefore getting 1 day off every 2 weeks without losing pay)
- flexi time (can start anytime between 0730 and 0930 and finish between 1600 and 1830, can be over/under by 15 hours in any four week period, can take 2 days off in each four week period if got the hours)
- homeworking (either 1 or 2 days a week or mainly based at home)
- compressed working hours
- term time only working
- various part-time opportunities

I agree with others though about not mentioning the children, they are judging you on your ability to do the job.

lavand Fri 08-Jul-11 09:02:39

I mentioned being a mother on my cv when applying for a job recently. I mentioned a career break to bring up a young family and mentioned the transferable skills I have as a mother. I have not received a reply! And I am more than qualified for the job - I'm not going to mention them next time! Good luck with your interview.

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