Should I reveal I’m pregnant in job interview?

Should I reveal I’m pregnant in job interview?


I may be able to get a really great job with a really great company. However, I’m in the early stages of pregnancy and I’m concerned about how to handle it. I know it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnant women, but let’s face it — it happens.

So here’s the deal. Do I risk rejection by telling the employer about my situation up front or do I tell them after they make an offer and risk losing the offer? Or, should I wait until I am settled in the job and then lower the boom, but risk alienating my employer?

I am a dedicated worker and I take any job I have seriously. I intend to return to work pretty quickly after the baby comes because we need the income. I’d appreciate your advice. I am only nine weeks along and can probably hide my condition until quite a while after they hire me. Thanks.

Nick’s Reply

pregnant job interviewAnother reader recently asked me essentially the same question, but he’s not pregnant. He’s got a serious chronic condition and wanted to know when to disclose it to the employer. The answer to both is much the same, and it’s founded on whether the candidate’s condition will have a material effect on their ability to do the job as promised.

I don’t want to get into a tirade about the challenges women face when job hunting, or in advancing their careers. But I’ll say it: Women have a harder time in the workplace than men. Women earn less for doing the same jobs as men and don’t get promoted as often.

Where do job candidates come from?

Employers also worry about women having babies. Imagine that. Where do these companies think future generations of workers come from?

Any company that ignores the cost of temporarily losing women to childbearing has failed to plan its finances and operations intelligently. It’s called a fact of life. So I have no sympathy for any company that arches an eyebrow when it learns a female employee is about to have a baby.

Pregnant women — and people with chronic conditions — can work. Employers can manage a work schedule when a baby comes, and can accommodate a chronic condition if the hire can otherwise do the job as required. Your challenge is to live up to the work commitment you make.

Pregnant in the job interview?

My advice is to interview and win an offer on the basis of the work you can do and the contribution you can make to the company’s bottom line. If having a baby won’t make a material difference to your ability to get the job done, then it’s none of the employer’s business. (Legal experts agree you don’t have to tell that you’re pregnant.) Get the offer first — get it in writing. It won’t be so easy for them to rescind the offer at that point, and you’ll learn a lot from their reaction, too.

Rejecting you only because they learn you’re pregnant in the job interview is unethical. The strong position is not to tell them anything, not before getting an offer or after you start work. When it’s obvious you’re pregnant, tell HR you’d like to schedule the necessary time for the baby.

If you’re going to tell, turn it into a commitment. Since you plan to return to work after the baby comes without much delay, tell that to the employer. Provide details on your planned schedule. If they express dismay that you didn’t tell them this before they made the offer but they are still eager to hire you, that may be okay. If they get upset about it, I doubt you’d want to work there — they’re not going to be very supportive of a working mother.

Having a baby is your business

If you want to take legal action at that point, it’s up to you. I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice. My job is to optimize your chances of getting an offer and of having a good relationship with your employer if you take the job. How you play it from there is up to you.

It’s not hard to argue that, if you want a good relationship with your new employer, you should ‘fess up about being pregnant before they hire you. I’d agree — if you knew in advance which employers will follow the law and not discriminate against you. But you don’t. So I come down on the side of protecting your privacy and your interests — but the call is yours.

My advice is to assess the company’s attitude and decide whether they’re worth working for. If you’re going to disclose, don’t until after you’ve got an offer. Having a baby is your business. Your ability to do the job properly is your business and the employer’s. If you prefer to disclose, don’t skew the odds against yourself imprudently. If how you handle this is a sign of your integrity, then how the employer handles it reveals theirs. My advice is to act responsibly without putting yourself at a disadvantage, and to hold any employer to a similar standard. I wish you and your family the best.

What is an employer’s business, and what is not? Does an employer need to know your medical condition? Have you encountered this situation, either as a pregnant job seeker or as a hiring manager? How did you handle it? How did the employer handle it? What medical conditions does an employer really need to know about?

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“Thank you, I’m hired!” & other ways to get a job

“Thank you, I’m hired!” & other ways to get a job


ways to get a jobI’d like to ask your subscribers something if you will let me. In today’s weird job market, the responses you collect may be instructive for everyone.

Reading about the recent untimely passing of “Full House” star Bob Saget reminded me of something I once read about Dave Coulier who played Joey Gladstone on the program. Coulier wanted to break into the world of voice acting in Hollywood, so he prepared a two-sided audio tape. One side had recorded excerpts of actual cartoon programs. The other side was him imitating the originals.

He sent the tape to various casting directors, but did not say which side was from the actual program, and which side was his imitation, adding that, if you can’t tell the difference, you should hire me. They were captivated. His career was soon successfully launched.

I’d like to know if your readers ever did something as clever to get, or at least attempt to get, a job.

Nick’s Reply

In “today’s weird job market” I’m sure there are some wild stories about unusual ways to get a job. Dave Coulier’s scheme might seem like a trick to some, but it’s really a demonstration. Long-time subscribers know my exhortation to “do the job to win the job.” By messing with the casting directors’ minds, he helped them see (or hear) what he could actually do. I think that audio tape was a brilliant move.

Poll: Ways to get a job

You’ve proposed a provocative poll of Ask The Headhunter readers. I think it’s a good one that might get folks more motivated, or at least make us laugh. I can’t wait to hear their stories of clever (and maybe too clever!) ways to get a job.

To get us started, I’ll offer up the story of a guy who hired himself. It’s weird, instructive and cautionary. It happened at a small computer company in a time when security was not the concern it is today.

A guy we’ll call Jim was recommended for a software development job to the president of a company, who in turn passed the resume on to the software manager. Jim was interviewed. His skills were good but not exceptional and his ability to communicate was poor. Something about him also made the interviewers uncomfortable. The decision not to hire Jim was unanimous and he was notified.

A few days later the president arrived at work and noticed someone working in what had been a vacant office next to his. He stuck his head in the door. “Hello. Have we met?”

“I don’t think so,” came the reply. “I’m Jim .”

“Nice to meet you, Jim. What are you doing?”

“Working on some code.”

“Well, good, and welcome aboard.”

“Thank you,” said Jim.

Later, the software manager noticed Jim ensconced and busy in the office next to the president’s. He figured the president decided to hire Jim for some other job.

It took a few days before the president and the manager realized no one had hired Jim. Having not received a job offer, he started coming in to work every day anyway. The short of it is, he as much took the job as got the job. Thank you, I’m hired. And he was.

What’s the most clever (or not so clever!) maneuver you’ve used, or tried to use, to get a job? Why do you think it worked or didn’t? Are there other unusual ways to get a job that you know about?

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Stupid Interview Questions: #11

Stupid Interview Questions: #11


What’s a good way to answer stupid interview questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Nick’s Reply

stupid interview questionsAnswer: “Gee, will your company be in business in 5 years?

The “5 years” question is silly. I think my suggested answer is not, even if it might get you kicked out of the interview! The point is, the employer cannot see 5 years out, or predict what crises or opportunities might arise. Nor can a job seeker or employee.

You’re in the interview to answer questions, but it’s your duty to yourself to make sure the questions you answer are meaningful. We’ve discussed the Top 10 Stupid Interview Questions at length. This question — let’s call it #11 — is yet another example of just how broken the employment system is. It reveals how much time and energy is wasted in job interviews — especially in today’s economy.

Who cares about stupid interview questions?

Depending on what survey you look at, between 23%-73% of current workers are considering or planning to quit their jobs. Over 15 million have already quit in the past year. So, you could reasonably respond: “What are the odds you or I would still be at this company in 5 years?”

The interviewer might argue they want to know about your plans and aspirations. And you may bear the same curiosity about the employer. But I don’t know one corporate executive who would bet $100 on their company’s pie-in-the-sky 5-year business plan — much less explain it to a job applicant! So why do employers ask stupid interview questions about your unknown future?

Perhaps the best, most business-like answer to the “5 years” question is “Who cares? We’ve got real fish to fry!” Then get down to real business.

The interview question we should care about

If employers weren’t wasting your (and their) time with side trips of fancy, they could focus on the reason they’re trying to fill a job: to get work done.

If my suggested answers to the “5 years” question worry you, do what skilled politicians do. Ignore the stupid question and talk about what you believe the subject should be:

“How can we work together to get this job done?”

Please think about what I’ve said, then try this as a response.

How to Say It

“It depends on where the business goes and what our customers need. I like to think in milestones that I can actually control. I like to think in terms of concrete deliverables. What do you expect your new hire to actually deliver to you in this job in the next month, 3 months, 6, 12 and 24? I’d be glad to walk you through how I will deliver on your expectations. Then you’ll see where I see myself in a year and two years. Of course, we have to roll up our sleeves and work closely so we’re both on the same page about our future.”

Get the idea? The employer is lucky if they can plan a job out to 12 months! If the manager cannot define the expected deliverables from the new hire at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months, then how can you tell where you see yourself in 60?


You must do a lot of work to prepare for such an encounter. If you are not willing to do that kind of preparation, then I think you have no business in that interview. Or, it’s the wrong job and the wrong interview for you.

The purpose of this approach is to maneuver the manager into a working meeting, in which both of you roll up your sleeves and talk shop to define and plan for those milestones. This changes the job interview entirely and makes you stand out from all other candidates — especially the one that answers, “In 5 years I see myself in your job, of course!”

In today’s economy, I think it’s crucial to break the conventional interview script. Help the manager define what they need, so the two of you can work together to decide how you will deliver it successfully if you’re hired. After all, we get paid to deliver, not to fantasize.

I cover this and related interview challenges in Book 6 of the Fearless Job Hunting Collection.

If you try this approach, I think you will be the first candidate your boss has ever met that shows up ready to talk shop and ready to create the real future.

How do you answer the “5 years” question? What other Stupid Interview Questions have you been asked? How do you control a job interview to maximize your chances of getting an offer? Is there a single interview question that you think every employer should ask above all others?

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Exploding Job Offer #3: Get it in writing

Exploding Job Offer #3: Get it in writing


Bait & Switch Corp. (not the real name) offered me a job and lied about what the work would be. When I tried to discuss this, my new boss told me they fudge job descriptions because they can’t get the kinds of skills they need. “We’ll still pay you what we promised.” He thinks his exploding job offer was pretty clever. I quit.

Aren’t we supposed to be in a very tight “worker’s market” that makes it hard for employers to fill jobs? So why do they lie?

Take a look at this article: Employee Finds Out The Job They Accepted Wasn’t Work-From-Home As Promised, Quits In Style. The worker in this story was conned much like I was. Is this a thing now?

Nick’s Reply

exploding job offerUnsavory employers are nothing new; nor is the exploding job offer. (Today’s column covers a third example.) But the company in that article and the company you quickly quit reveal a new motivation for bad behavior: they are desperate. When desperate people try to be clever they usually wind up worse for it.

Exploding job offer #3: Bait and switch

I expect we’ll see more bait and switch because most employers really stink at hiring. These are companies that go dumpster diving in the “job boards” for job candidates then have no qualms about treating them like trash. But what does that say about job seekers that are found in those dumpsters, waiting for just any employer to pluck them out?

The truth is, job seekers often lose control the moment a job offer is dangled in front of them. Most become so giddy that they’ll accept it without reservation. And that leads to what I believe is the main reason people go job hunting: They took the wrong job to begin with because they failed to negotiate the terms.

The only way to minimize the chance of such a catastrophe is to get it all in writing.

You have a choice: Get it in writing

Employers are loath to put everything they represented about a job in writing. They don’t want to be obligated to anything except perhaps paying you, although I’ve seen the “salary bait and switch,” too. I know people who were thrilled to get a job, only to learn when onboarding was over that they were assigned a lower-level job and a lower salary.

Anyone that reads this website knows employers try to get away with what they can. While laws to protect employees are creeping up on companies, short of a costly lawsuit the job seeker has little recourse today. (See attorney Larry Barty’s advice in Job offer rescinded after I quit my old job.)

The inscrutable economy we live in makes it difficult for even honest employers to fill jobs. Many are throwing away the playbook and taking extreme measures to find and hire the workers they need. The honest ones are offering higher pay, better working conditions, work from home, bonuses and other enticements. The dishonest ones are just plain lying.

The job seeker’s playbook used to say, “Employers don’t provide detailed employment contracts because they don’t have to, so don’t bother to ask for one. You have no choice.”

The new playbook: Get it in writing

Today, employers are indeed desperate to fill jobs, so it’s an excellent time to make prudent changes to the playbook. A good place to start: Request a detailed employment agreement, no matter what level the job is, rather than just an offer letter. Insist that the terms as you understand them — and I don’t mean just salary! — are spelled out in writing. Did the interviewers discuss job definition, work schedule and location, who your boss is? Get it all in writing. A contract is best; a signed, detailed offer letter is the bare minimum; a purely oral or informal job offer is off the table.

A verbal job offer is wonderful because it tells you where you stand while the company prepares the formal written offer or contract. But a verbal offer is like a wet noodle: It doesn’t stand up very well.

Get everything you’ve been promised in writing. Don’t accept a job offer — even verbally — until you have all the details that matter in writing. A good employer will comply. An employer that really needs you will make the commitment.

Will a good written agreement absolutely protect you? Not if the employer is completely dishonest. Lawsuits involving even top executives who have solid contracts are not uncommon. But you’re better off having it in writing, if only because your insistence on creating that document shows the employer you’re not naïve about the employment market.

Avoid the exploding job offer

What terms should be spelled out? I’d love to hear from our community what you’d add to this list (which is far from exhaustive).

  • The exact pay for each pay period
  • The job title
  • Definition of the work and objectives and deliverables expected from you
  • How you will be measured
  • Your work schedule, location and environment (this may include tools you’ll need, whether software or a hammer)
  • Whom you will report to directly
  • If a commission or bonus is involved, how much, when it will be earned and when paid, a clear and objective definition of criteria to earn it, and a clear definition of metrics to be used
  • What your vacation time and sick leave will be and how they are calculated
  • Term of employment, if it is for a set length of time
  • Terms of separation, whether you are terminated or resign, including severance
  • A clear definition of “separation for cause”

Recruiters, HR managers and career coaches will tell you, “The employer will never go for that!”

But, why would you “go” for a job offer without all of that?

You already did. Other readers please take note: The OP’s experience hurt.

Leverage today’s job market

In many corners of today’s economy it’s definitely a job seeker’s market. (That’s just one reason I think this article by Bernie Dietz was prescient: Employment Contracts: Everyone needs promise protection.) So use that. You get to set some of the rules. You get to negotiate terms that are good for you — not just for the employer — because employers may need you more than ever. Be reasonable, but be firm. Get some, give some. But know in advance which terms are non-negotiable and be ready to walk away if the employer will not meet them.

If all this sounds like pie-in-the-sky, and you believe no employer will agree to what I’m suggesting, I think that means you have no leverage in negotiations because the employer doesn’t need you enough — or that the employer is lying to you. Why apply for jobs like that? (“Because I found them on Indeed” is not a good answer.)

The actual terms you negotiate are clearly important and will vary. But the terms you get mean nothing unless you get them in writing.

Do you get your job offers in writing? Have you started a job only to find out it’s not the job you accepted? What terms do you negotiate? What terms do you consider deal breakers?

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