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

What I’ve been told agrees with this. I hire people for my department, and when I was trained, HR told me that it was not illegal to ask questions about children, religion, socioeconomics, etc. but that they did not want me to do so anyway. The reason given was that if the interviewee did not get hired- even if the reason had nothing to do with the personal questions I’d asked- I would be leaving my company open to a lawsuit. So, not illegal, but against the rules.

(I honestly can’t imagine asking these things anyway- there isn’t really anything relevant to be gained from the answers anyway. Either someone has availability that works for you or they don’t. Who care if it’s related to kids, school, or the hockey season?)

I just got hired for my first job since '02. I’ve been staying home with the kids since then, and I volunteered that information. It worked out to my advantage; the interviewer was a grandma who used to be a young housewife, and she appreciated the qualities and experience gained from it. But that’s certainly not always the case. I applied for a waitressing job at a bowling alley a few months ago. The application asked for my race, ethnicity, marital status, how many kids, height, and weight. I did not get the job, but after that, I didn’t want it.

Do you suppose asking if one has any “responsibilities” that would keep them from traveling at short notice could be hinting any anything else? I’ve been asked that more than once.

Probably other care issues (elderly parent, disabled spouse), maybe medical conditions of your own that would interfere. I was asked that question when interviewing for my current job.

At my previous job, I was out of the office on a day that they were interviewing a potential new worker. My coworker asked her if she had any kids, and the next day, I got semi-chewed-out for it - this was the first I’d heard that I was supposedly something of a supervisor of her, and I certainly wasn’t being paid appropriately for that kind of position.

41, male. I’ve never been asked. Since having kids though, I always volunteer the information during the second round of interviews. I want a potential boss to know that yes, I’ll have to leave right on time some days to pick up the kids from school/daycare, and that particular point isn’t negotiable. I’ll make up the time on other days. If he’s got a problem with that, best we find out now and not a month after I start working.

Agree, not illegal to ask, illegal to use the information to discriminate. The exception is information about disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act actually does prohibit certain questions in the interview process.

The question about “responsibilities preventing you from traveling on short notice” is the type of question you are supposed to ask to stay in compliance with the law. Rather than just assuming a woman wouldn’t want to travel because she has kids, or might have them someday, you make it clear the job requires travel and ask all candidates if they can do that part of the job.

Alice the Goon - Federal discrimination laws don’t kick in until 15 employees, so many small employers can in fact ask whatever they want, barring state or local law to the contrary.

What they said above. When I was conducting interviews, HR told me to just not ask questions regarding religion, family status, medical conditions, etc.

The firm I worked for was an engineering.construction company, and new engineers were expected to spend at least a year in the field, which would involve some moderately physical work of some sort or another. HR told us that we shouldn’t ask if anyone had any medical problems, but that we should ask something to the effect of, “You’ll be spending some time in the field on construction sites, on rough terrain, and doing quite a bit of stair/ladder climbing. Do you have any concerns about that, or know of any reason that this would be a problem for you?”

Nobody ever named me in a lawsuit, so I guess it was OK.

“Sure, I’ve had children. They were delicious.”

“Oh…wait. That wasn’t what you asked, was it.”

Late 40s, female here, and I don’t think I’ve ever been asked.

When taking a “how to conduct an interview” for the other side of the desk, however, we were explicitly told it is not legal to ask this sort of thing. What we can do, is say “the job requires x% of travel” (or whatever) “is this a problem for you?”.

The interviewee might say “yes, it’s a problem” and that - and that alone - is what we can consider in hiring. Not the reasons for it.

Wow. Am I wrong here, or is this the exact opposite at how the usual discrimination goes regarding women with children?

I used to work with a woman - I have kids, she didn’t. It was far easier for me to travel on short notice than her - I have a husband, a mother, a mother in law and a brother in law all in town that are capable of watching kids at the drop of a hat. She had two dogs that she had to kennel - and no one close by to drop dogs off with - and most kennels require a visit pre kennel - so if her “regular” kennel didn’t have space, she couldn’t travel.

I suspect that question does come down to “do you have kids” - or perhaps just a more general “how quickly can you turn your life upside down when we need you.” And frankly, whether you have kids or not, knowing a company might expect you to be in New York that evening is a good thing to know about the job before you take it. I’ve taken those business trips (before children) and even without children, it wouldn’t be a job I’d be eagar to do.

Like muldoonthief, it is information I volunteer during the second interview - I want a job that is going to work for me and where I am going to work for them. One that is surprised when I can’t come in due to a toddler’s ear infection, or have to leave early because the school nurse called isn’t going to be a good fit for either of us. (I can have my mother take kids, but they are MY kids).

Don’t you get the same personal/vacation/sick time as your colleagues?

Sort of, but only after it was clear that I had the job–so it’s arguable the conversation was longer an interview at that point. We were discussing when my first day would be, and my new boss said something to the effect of, “We’d like you to start on March 1–wait, I just realized, that’s Optional Schools registration day. Will that work for you, or do you have kids?”

I’ve worked in H/R and as a rule, minus any state or local law, it’s not illegal to ask, so long as you don’t base your hiring decision on that policy. Most companies ward off lawsuits simply by not asking those questions.

But even when you’re sued in order to win a lawsuit not only does the person no hired have to PROVE that the question was asked, PROVE that the answer was the result of the answer, he would have to PROVE that the company has a consistant policy of asking said question and basing the hiring choices on that question.

Like sexual harrassment suits, most of these cases settle out of court 'cause it’s easier. In Illinois around 1/2 of 1% of all sexual harrassment suits that make it to court find in favour of the prosecution. It’s unlikely if the company if the company were to fight you’d win.

But the company doesn’t want to spend the money so they settle.

Bottom line is, answer the question then file a complaint with the EEOC, they will investigate and see.

I noticed many companies get around this now by making you fill in online applications and if you don’t answer a question with a drop down box, you can’t procede. Technically they’ve blocked you in.

Also remember if you bring up something, the employer has every right to follow it up. For instance if I said:

“The standard hours for this job is 9am - 6pm. Is there any reason why you could not work these hours.” If you bring up kids or whatever you’re employer has a right to follow up with this. Suppose you say, “Generally not, but my kids are at that age where they still may need a babysitter.”

Because of the fear of lawsuits, I’ve actually had interviews, where the interviewer says "I will read you a list of question, you must answer them to the best of your ablity. I can neither explain nor clarify any question. All I can do is re-read you the question, if you don’t understand or choose not to answer, please say “pass.”

Also remember these are general rules/laws and don’t always apply. For instance if a business is small they don’t necessarily have to abide by these laws. For instance if your business is small enough you CAN discriminate by race for example. This is why, say a Chinese resturant can hire only Chinese waiters or waitresses. Again, the business has to be small and fit a set of rules to have that exception

No, that one does matter, because you want to be forewarned if you’re about to hire a Leaf’s fan…

I may have been asked, but I don’t recall for sure if it was during interviews or simply on my first days at new jobs. I think, when I used to work in labs, the questions were more along the lines of “our policy is to not have pregnant women working in the labs, so if you are or might become pregnant while employed here, it’s something you’ll have to discuss with your supervisor so you can be assigned to other work.” I’d be pretty worried about any woman that would want to work in a chemical lab while pregnant!

I think this one is actually questionable in the US. I vaguely remember reading a case about a woman suing to be allowed to continue working in the lead factory. It might have been that they didn’t let women of childbearing age work there, rather than actually pregnant women, though. Unfortunately, that casebook is packed up for our impending move, so I can’t check it.

Female, 43.
Yes, I’ve been asked. And yes, it IS technically illegal to ask, since hiring decisions can’t be based on it (but often are…why ask?)

I even had one guy, when I mentioned I would be riding a bike or taking the bus to work, pat his tummy (as if HE were the one who was 4 mths pregnant:rolleyes:) and give me a look implying that wouldn’t be feasable in my "condition. I assured him it would be fine (I got the job, which I quit soon after due to serious conflicts with the whole workplace…trust me, my “condition” had nothing to do with it)

Most recently, I was asked (over the phone) by some guy hiring for his small business my AGE. (TOTALLY illegal) But I answered honestly, and he went on about how he’d never worked with anyone that much older than he was and wasn’t sure how that would work out…:smack: I was really interested in the position at the time, dealing with rare books, and very qualified, so I went in for an actual in person interview…Geez, the guy had several other applicants show up DURING our brief interview and I ended up not getting the job which was probably just as well. He didn’t strike me as a very competent business person. :dubious:

People base hiring decisions pretty much on whatever they want to with impunity. Age, sex, children, race, etc…I’ve seen a very qualified man lose a teaching job (which I, as the teacher who had him assist in my class, recomended him very highly for to the Director) to a female twit. SOOOOO wrong! :mad: (this was a preschool, btw, and the Director had issues with a MAN working with young children and what would the parents think? Idiot.)

Also seen race factor in.

And age.

It’s BS.

From the experiences voiced in this thread and from my friends, yes. I got the distinct impression that the disapproval had more to do with the interviewer’s antiquated personal beliefs about a woman’s role in society than my suitability/availability for the job for which I was applying. To this day, I still occasionally encounter people who feel I’m not a real woman because I haven’t procreated. My if-only-I-had-the-guts-to-say-it response? “It’s all good. My vagina still works and if you’re worried the world running low on people, Octomom’s has got my quota covered.” :smiley:

No. In fact, singles w/o kids are also discriminated against, but few are sued about it.

gigi: many companies and even jurisdictions allow extra time for Family leave. This women (and sometimes men) with families do get more time off. Also, some companies have liberal sick leave polices, but ask that you be really sick if more than one day is taken- or if you kids are really sick. Thus, a non-family person with normal health would not take anywhere near as many sick days as a family person with kids- and the nasty things kids bring home, too.

Female 31, West Coast
It’s pretty inevitable that my being a parent is going to come up at an interview. I’ve been unemployed for 2+ years at this point due to my child and it’s kind of hard to explain the absence without bringing her up. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost at least one job due to it. They were excited to interview me, were talking about how great a place they were to work at. I go in for the interview, and it’s going great. Lots of smiles, laughing, a great interview. Then it comes to the point of my unemployment and I tell the truth. I took time off to raise my daughter. Instant change of atmosphere. The interviewer becomes serious, super-professional and asks about if I have daycare and all that. They end the interview moments later and tell me “they’ll call”. Never heard a word.