Ever been asked in a job interview if you have kids?

Either straight out (even though I know it’s technically illegal in most places), or in a sly way e.g. ‘Will you need to know about schools in the area?’

Gender and approximate age (when you were asked), if you please.

I was asked straight out in an interview a few years ago, at age 35, if I have kids. I was applying at a doctor’s office, and being interviewed by the sole practitioner who gave off an air of being entitled to ask anything he wanted because it was his own business. I didn’t get the job. Coincidence?

Male, 47. I’ve never been asked, and can’t remember it ever being hinted at.

Yes, Male, 27. They were curious because there is occasional travel on quick notice.

Male, 63. I haven’t been interviewed for a job in many years, before becoming self-employed. I remember being asked whether I’m married, but not about kids. I suspect that women are asked about kids more than men.

Not so much if I had kids, but a very large company I was interviewing at a man drew a picture of a man and woman holding hands and said “well, I can’t directly ask you…but, ya know…” Everyone I would have been working with was a decade or so older and presumably already married and with kids so he was obviously trying to see how much we had in common. I am still not sure if wanted to know if I was married, had kids, was gay or some combination. I thought it was terribly inappropriate though.

I always volunteer that I don’t have children and don’t intend to. If that gives me an edge, so be it. I’ll end up covering for you when your precious darlings get the sniffles.

38, female, working longer hours than any of the parents in any work/academic setting I’ve ever been in.

I was asked when I was 20, if I had kids. I knew it was illegal to ask. I should have took that as a sign that it was a crappy job. I got the job, and then quit after a month because I couldn’t stand the boss (the one who did the interview).

48 female US east coast

Well, not directly asked other than for one position, but ‘hinted’ at in the bonding phase of the interview. Mainly back in the 80s. The onetime it was asked directly was for a contract at a nuclear power plant, and they were concerned mainly about exposure and it was more concern that I might possibly be or get pregnant in a risky environment. They were actually happy i had a tubal ligation as it made them more able to use me in different environments.

I used to do the same thing until two HR reps at two different job interviews – one was woman who came right out and told me that I needed children to complete me – made their disapproval clear. Oy.

It’s only happened those two times in the late 80s when I was in my early 20s. Oh, and I’m female.

No, but I have been explicitly turned down for a job that I was qualified for because they wanted to hire a male. (It was just at a 1-hr photo lab, but I’d been working at another one in my previous city for the last 3 months.)

The owners were asian immigrants and I don’t think they realized that that’s illegal in the US. I was young and was so flabbergasted when they told me, I didn’t think to object.

Got asked about kids less than a year ago… also asked what kind of games I play and where I liked to dive (games and scuba were listed as interest on my CV/resume).

I don’t actually know if it’s a legal question in NZ – but since it ended up as a chat about families and comparing ages, etc with the kids the two interviewers themselves had I don’t think there was much of an ulterior motive.

Male 43 fwiw.

Just to clarify it is in no way illegal to ask an interviewee if s/he has kids. It is (often) illegal to base a hiring decision on whether s/he has kids. But, for example, when you’re in the “selling the company to the interviewee” phase of the interview, it’s entirely appropriate to find out whether you’re wasting everyone’s time by talking about how good the local schools are.

I was under the impression that it was illegal, alongside religion, ethnicity, disability, marital status and that sort of thing, unless it can be proven that the information is needed for the job (e.g. to satisfy legal minimum age requirements).

Is it just a suggested no-no to prevent discrimination lawsuits, or is it flat-out illegal? Maybe a lawyer Doper can weigh in. (Part of the reason I started this thread, in addition to recently reading this Businessweek article, was because of a conversation I had with some girlfriends looking for work in which we realized some of the stranger questions they’d been asked during interviews were probably attempts to suss out whether they had or were planning on having children e.g. ‘Have you looked at schools in the area?’ None of them have kids or plans for them in the near future, so they were mostly confused, especially by that question. I swear she answered, ‘Well, I have two degrees already, so no.’)

I’ve never been directly asked - and yes, in the UK, it is illegal to ask about kids in the interview process.

But then, my CV includes ‘childcare break’ to explain some time not in paid employment, so it’s not as if they’d have to ask. Better to state it upfront, I find. Mind you, it’s not like I have much choice - if I put in ‘travelling’ or a fake job, they’d discover the lie soon enough!

In interviews, I always bring the subject up myself in one way or another, and explain that I’ve applied for this job because it’s close to home so I can get there easily, and my friends live nearby so can pick up the slack if I stay late or if my daughter’s sick (I might have to stay home for a while then, but not all the time), and so on. That is, ‘yes, I have a kid, but I also have pretty good childcare arrangements, so don’t worry too much.’

They ask about the break in employment, I tell the truth, I don’t get an offer. One company rescinded an offer after six months of temp-to-perm. Funny how that happened right after I took a day off for my daughter’s surgery.

Before I was a Mom, I never had a single interview without also receiving an offer. Yes, that is a stupendous thing to be able to say, but it’s the truth.

If only I could think of a way to address the break without telling them I’m a Mom. . .

Are you SURE it’s NOT illegal? At least in the US. When I used to hire I was told it was specifically illegal.

This seems to hint that it may be.

I AM a lawyer Doper (and none of you are my clients, etc.). What is illegal is making decisions based on race, religion, family status, etc. (At least under federal law and in the two states where I am licensed - I can’t speak for every state in the US without doing research.) Having asked the questions can look bad if you are sued, because the lawyers can insinuate that everything in an interview is for the purpose of making a hiring decision. But the plaintiff still has to prove that you did use it for hiring purposes to prove discrimination.

HR people will tell you all the time that it is illegal. HR people are not lawyers.

I was taking a break for medical reasons, but that is all in the past now - I have no residual symptoms. (Pregnancy is a medical condition, right?)

I believe it used to be qualified as a catastrophic illness. That may just be an urban legend though.

I did have a guy tell me once that he wouldn’t hire me because about the time he had me trained, I’d get married, have kids and quit.

I wish I knew who he was, must have been a hell of a job to require 18 years of training. (the time difference between the statement and me having a child, but no, not quitting my job)

Count me as one of those folks that always worked extra hours, holidays and weekends so those folks with kids could spend time with them. Now? I’d like the opportunity I gave so many others.