Plus a discussion guide with 5 questions to ask your potential employer.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t love job interviews.
But if you’re interviewing while you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it can feel even harder and more awkward than usual. If you’re pregnant you may feel squeamish (literally) about the idea of having to tell someone you barely know such personal news. But even if you’re not yet pregnant, it can be a tense experience as you try to determine whether your prospective employer will think when they find out you’re going to be a mom.
I know how it feels, because I’ve been there. When I was interviewing for jobs and two months pregnant, I found it incredibly difficult to get information about things like maternity leave benefits, working hours and whether there was a culture of face-time or flexibility at a company. It’s hard to ask up-front about these questions because you’re worried about being judged.
Unfortunately, a lot of people still doubt women’s commitment to their jobs once they become mothers. The difficulty I experienced when I tried to get clear information is why I started Fairygodboss, a platform where women anonymously share information with each other about hard-to-ask workplace issues.
Here are 5 tips to make the experience of interviewing while pregnant or TTC more positive.
Delay spilling the beans.
If you’re like me and pregnant but not showing, or simply trying to have a baby, there’s no reason to tell your prospective employer. You have no legal obligation to tell them and they have no legal right to ask. However, many women feel an ethical responsibility to disclose this information at some point in the interview process. This is a personal decision, but I believe it’s easier for both sides if you keep your biology out of the conversation until an offer is on the table.
Do your research.
Employee review sites can reveal a lot about company culture. Look at the social media handles of the companies where you’re interviewing and of individual employees. Read about the people who are in management at the company. Are they women? Are they moms? Do they discuss children and family life? Some companies may be more conservative or have a smaller digital footprint, but even small amounts of information can be revealing. All you’re looking for are signs that these organizations offer environments that support new moms.
Take a good look at your surroundings when interviewing.
When it comes to understanding a company’s culture, it can make a huge difference to walk around the building or arrive a bit early to observe people’s behavior and interactions. Is this a company where people hang up photos of family members and seem to genuinely enjoy their time? Or is it a place where doors are closed and formality prevails? If you have a choice in interview times, ask for an early or late time slot. This will give you a sense of when the bulk of people arrive at or leave the office.
Ask general questions about diversity and inclusion.
There’s probably a correlation between a company that invests in diversity and inclusion programs and one that supports new parents. This isn’t always the case, of course, but simply seeing your interviewer’s reaction to the question and hearing how easily and thoroughly she answers them is a good indicator of how supportive the company may be of new moms.
Ask for benefits information when you receive an offer.
Once you get an offer, you may still not feel comfortable disclosing your news. In that case, ask for information like your benefits package or ask to speak to team members you didn’t meet while interviewing. You may be introduced to someone who is a mother at the company and may feel more comfortable talking to her about your other questions.
In sum, be cautious and curious. You may find that things look so promising that you decide to share your news during the interview process after all!