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Illegal Interview Questions for Working Mothers

Here are just three of the most common illegal interview questions that are asked of working mothers and how to respond.

It’s finally happened. You landed the job interview that could potentially lead to the telecommuting job of your dreams. But when you’re in the middle of a Skype interview with the hiring manager, you’re being asked less about your professional life and more about your personal life. It’s not uncommon for potential bosses to ask tough questions, but there are some that are downright illegal, particularly those that pertain to your family. Here are just three of the most common illegal interview questions that are asked of working mothers—and how to respond.

“Do you have children?”

While your kids might be the apple of your eye, they shouldn’t be the topic of discussion during your job interview. In fact, they shouldn’t even really be mentioned at all. When a hiring manager asks you this question, he might be biased and think that you may not be as productive if you have kids. Or he may think that you’ll call in sick more frequently if your kids need to stay at home. If you’re asked this question, you should answer honestly; after all, you can’t deny if you have children! But don’t give him any more information than he needs. Simply answer, “Yes, I do,” and then steer the subject back to your skills, not the names, ages, and sports affiliations that your children have.

“When are you planning on having children?”

Let’s say that you had an in-office interview and the hiring manager spotted your wedding ring. He may not want to directly ask you if you have kids, but he may surprise you by asking if and when you’re planning on having them. Although this question is downright rude (and illegal, to boot), you don’t have to answer it. What he may really be fishing to find out is how long he’ll have you as an employee before you need to go on maternity leave, and if you’ll potentially leave the company after your baby is born. For this question, you should be as vague as possible, answering with, “Someday” or “There’s nothing set in stone yet”.

“Who will take care of your kids while you’re at work?”

The fact you have children is out in the open. Now, your boss-to-be wants to take it to the next level and find out about your child-care coverage. Ultimately, a boss's concern is that your time, energy, and most importantly, your focus won’t be on your job if you have kids. And if you’re applying for a telecommuting job, he may assume that you will have your kids at home with you while you work. But ask any WAHM and she will tell you that it’s super difficult to work with kiddos in the house. If you are asked this question, you can answer it honestly by stating that your kids are either going to be in school while you work, or that you have someone to watch your children during your assigned hours. Your prospective boss doesn’t need to know who is watching your children, how much you’re paying for it, etc. Letting him know that you have taken the steps to have your children cared for while you work should be sufficient.

While most job interviewers stick to pertinent job interview questions, there are others who may try to dig a little into your personal life. By keeping your answers short and sweet, you’ll reassure your boss-to-be that you’re a professional working mother who will be dedicated to her job—and her family, too.

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