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Interviewing while pregnant

A pregnancy is a big deal for the soon-to-be mother, but should hiring managers care? Here, we sort out the best practices for interviewing while pregnant.

A baby on the way means it’s imperative to get your finances in order, which may mean looking for a new job. But how does this factor affect your job search? Whether you’re already pregnant when you start your job search or you find out you’re expecting in the midst of a career change, navigating the process understanding an employer’s expectations can feel confusing.

Here, career coaches and employment attorneys weigh in on how to understand an employer’s potential concerns, as well as assert your own professionalism and experience to create the opportunity to score the job.

Should employers know?
The question most people want answered is: “Will a hiring manager look at me differently if I’m pregnant?” Donna Ballman is an employment attorney and author of “Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired.” She says, “Many people think it's dishonest not to disclose a pregnancy while job hunting, or maybe even legally required. I think this is a mistake, and a misunderstanding of the law. While applicants usually understand that you shouldn't disclose a disability while job hunting, and most employers understand that they shouldn't ask, both sides seem to treat pregnancy differently.

“My best advice is to not disclose your pregnancy while job hunting. If you're showing, then you may have to say something, but otherwise don't disclose until you get a firm job offer. If they rescind the offer or fire you once they find out you're pregnant, then you may have a pregnancy discrimination case. Once you get the job, then you can – when you are about to start showing – disclose and start talking to them about maternity leave.” Ballman adds, “However, you won't qualify for Family and Medical leave unless you worked there at least a year.”

For more legal information, check out the National Advocates for Pregnant Women’s “Guide to Pregnancy Discrimination in Employment,” which is a downloadable PDF that shares excellent advice, information and resources on motherhood, work and family.

Why employers care
Today, businesses (and our culture as a whole) are stressing the value of having more women in the workplace, so it seems contradictory that a woman becoming pregnant is a concern that employers may have. The reason, though, is important to understand. Roy Cohen is a career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide.” He says, “One of the biggest concerns is that you will start a job and then disappear.”

If you only work for a short time before you’re out on maternity leave, and if you end up deciding not to come back, employers will have lost money on hiring you. To ease the employer’s worry, speak to how this organization and job fit into your career goals, how long you picture yourself at the organization and any other alignments you can point out. Ultimately an employer wants to hire someone who has a future at the company and can perform at a high quality.

Talking about your pregnancy
If you acknowledge your condition, you can assure potential employers that this will not affect your potential job performance in the new role. To do this, express your preparedness for the baby’s arrival, as well as any career or job strategies that you’ve created for your expanding family.

If you’re an experienced mother, this can play to your advantage since you understand how a new baby’s arrival changes your life and the time availability you have. However, you do not have to disclose that you have children or share any family particulars if you choose not to. If you do want to, though, Cohen says, “If you have been pregnant before then by all means speak from a place of experience.” This can range from a conversation on how you manage your time and a work/life balance to the company culture expectation of hours worked. The more you sound like your availability and skills will fit what the employer needs and the organization strives for, the greater your chances are of getting an offer.

No matter how you choose to handle the news that you’re pregnant, you’ll find success in your job search by focusing on communicating your professionalism, experience and how this organization and this role fit into your career goals and capabilities.

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