Infertility and Job Interviews

Job-Interview-Image

Lately I’ve become frustrated at work and have been casually applying to jobs that I find interesting. You know, just to see what’s out there. I recently went on a job interview even though I’m—at best—noncommittal about actually taking the plunge and leaving my current employer.

The interviewer, “Mr. Boss Man,” asked if I was married only minutes into the interview. Although his question is in direct violation of both ADA and Civil Rights Act laws due to its discriminatory nature, I chose to answer just to be polite. Then Mr. Boss Man asked if I had children. Strike two on illegality, sir! I paused, considered my options, experienced a sudden deep pang of pain, and answered no. His purported “reason” for asking was to make sure I had adequate child care during the workday. Since he knows I’m presently employed, if I did have children then I would clearly already have childcare arrangements, no?

When Mr. Boss Man next proceeded to ask if I planned to have any children, I felt myself mentally begin to check out of the interview. Many of you—especially those of us who’ve suffered miscarriages or early loss—know that very same feeling when asked this, The Dreaded Question. The inevitable pause to decide how to respond tactfully. The feeling of slight churning panic. The debate of answering “Yes,” then having explain yourself. The debate of answering “No,” then waiting for Dreaded Question #2 of when you’ll “start your family” and still having to explain yourself.

I clamped my mouth shut about how his line of questioning was inappropriate. Then I resisted the urge to spring out of my seat and end the interview on the spot.

Because what I REALLY wanted to say was, “You know what, Mr. Boss Man? I suffer from infertility and can’t have children. Thank you for your many reminders of that fact during this interview. My maternal status (and marital status) is a personal topic that’s, quite frankly, none of your business, not to mention absolutely unrelated to the position you’re interviewing me for. However, I’m praying and believing God to give my husband and I the desire of our hearts and bless us with a child. Would you like to add us to your prayer list?”

That would’ve ended the interview for sure. Maybe I should have said just that. But it wouldn’t have been very Christlike, which I’m aiming for these days in all my interactions with others… even if my initial reaction (as stated above) wasn’t very Christ-like. What can I say? I’m very much a work in progress.

Instead, I replied, “It’s complicated.” 

Multiple times throughout the two-and-a-half-hour (!) interview, Mr. Boss Man kept alluding back to my potentially having children. He helpfully informed me what school district I should move to when I have kids. He strongly implied that my position with his company might be endangered if I had a sick child and no childcare.

Mr. Boss Man then told me he wanted to hire me. He offered me a ridiculously high salary to boot. I told him that I’d consider his offer. In reality, my mind was made up less than thirty minutes into this, the longest interview of my life.

How did the story end?

I turned down the job.

Certain things in life just aren’t worth it, no matter how much money’s on the table.

And questions about one’s procreation status during a job interview? Never cool. Fertile or not.

male hand in a suit showing the stop gesture

 

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Author: Marixsa

Navigating the infertility waters and encouraging other mamas-in-waiting along the way.

15 thoughts on “Infertility and Job Interviews”

  1. Marixsa, I have no words. 🤦‍♂️🤦🏾‍♀️ You survived it to the tale and you did the right thing. I probably would have ended the interview one the spot. Someone I used to work with in DC told me that she had a friend who refused to hire women of reproductive age because of possibility of pregnancies and children. I wonder if that’s a Northeast attitude? In the South they are obsessed with children. What a dick. I’m glad you turned down the job. You are much stronger than me. I look forward to our Skype date on Tuesday.

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  2. Bloody hell! What a totally ignorant jerk and I 100% back you for not taking that job despite the good $$$ on offer. You know this was probably him on good behaviour but if you actually worked there he would be at least 10x worse. One of my favourite answers to “Do you have children?” is, “No, but I have 3 cats and that’s totally the same, right?” and that usually a) surprises people and b) throws them off balance enough to shut the F up. On the other hand, I am not religious like you and so I kind of wish in a way that you’d given him the response you hypothesised (although I fully respect why you didn’t). In any case, bravo for enduring all that BS and also a 2.5 hour interview? What on earth did they do with you for all that time?

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  3. This is insane! I’m sorry there are people out there that a) don’t know the law, b) don’t have a considerate bone in their body and C) are just morons!!! And I’m sorry that you met one at an interview as a potential boss. Such a shame. You are amazing for how you handled it my dear!!!

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  4. Good for you for turning down that JERK! Now that you have done that, would you be willing to let him know why? Or at least that he was not within his legal boundaries to ask those questions? Even if only to help him from getting into trouble in the future?

    I am so sorry you had to sit through that, and 2 1/2 hours of it?!?!?! I couldn’t have done it. You are a very tough lady!

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  5. What?! He is definitely NOT allowed to be asking questions like that. Totally inappropriate! You’d think he would have some sense when you answered “it’s complicated” and have left it at that. Would he have asked a man about his future family planning? Probably not.

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  6. argh that’s so rude!!! You handled it brilliantly, I think I would have slapped them! Well done though for being offered the job, and super well done for turning it down! x

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  7. I’m a recruiter, and the fact that these questions still occur continues to floor me. It reminds me of a group interview I facilitated years ago and an interviewer, thinking he needed to make things more casual, asked the candidate if they had kids, and I nearly spreadeagled across the table with that slow motion “noooooooo! don’t answer that!” to the candidate…who fortunately laughed as I did that and realized it was a rookie mistake (much different than this guy who clearly didn’t care that he was breaking the law).

    Seriously from an HR perspective, I would HIGHLY recommend that you send a quick note to HR at that company to let them know about the line of questioning you received, as this puts them in massive legal risk for this guy’s actions, and that this was one of the reasons you turned down the offer of employment. I would *absolutely* want to know if this happened to a candidate, and have had candidates contact me before when a manager behaved badly and it’s helped me ensure that my managers are in line and that all candidates have a great experience.

    By the way? Would have been just fine to say that to him. Or better yet, in a thank you note, heh.

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  8. Wow, that’s disgusting, what an idiot. I thought it was common knowledge that this area is completely no-go in job interviews. He sounds as if he knows but absolutely doesn’t care – bullish cretin. I’d have found this very upsetting a couple of years ago, like a violation. You were right to turn it down: if this is what the interview is like, imagine the environment you’d be working in.

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