Most people don’t find interviewing to be a very comfortable experience. It can feel much worse, however, if you interview while you’re trying to conceive or know you are newly pregnant.
There are many reasons to delay or avoid sharing this personal news during your interview process. Not only may you view it as irrelevant as your ability or interest in the job, you may worry that your prospective manager or employer will treat you differently or even decline to hire you if they knew your pregnancy status. While a decision to not hire someone based on their pregnancy is against the law, it is difficult to prove this was the reason you didn’t get the job and there’s unfortunately still some probability that this type of gender bias may exist.
That said, at this stage of your life you may be logically very interested in your employer’s policies and culture around supporting moms. To avoid risking the possibility of pregnancy bias, here are 4 things you can do to figure out what kind of place an employer will be to work, without disclosing your personal news.
Employee review sites can reveal a lot about company culture. Look at the social media handles of the companies where you’re interviewing and of individual employees. Read about the people who are in management at the company. Are they women? Are they moms? Do they discuss children and family life? Though some companies may be inherently conservative and have a smaller digital footprint, you’re simply looking for signs that this will be an environment that supports new moms.
To understand your prospective employer’s culture, it often makes a huge difference to walk around the building or arrive a bit early to observe the behavior of the office. Is this a company where people hang up photos of family members and seem to genuinely enjoy their time? Or is it a place where doors are closed and formality prevails? If you have a choice in interview times, ask for an early or late time slot so you may get a sense of when the bulk of people arrive and/or leave the office.
There’s probably a correlation between a company that makes investments in diversity and inclusion programs and one that supports new parents. This isn’t always the case, of course, but even seeing your interviewer’s reaction to the question and his/her knowledge of the answers (if any) is a good indicator of how supportive they may be of new moms.
Once you get an offer, you may still not feel comfortable disclosing your news. In these cases, ask for information like your benefits package information or to speak to other members of the team whom you may not have met during the interview process. You may be introduced to someone who is a mother at the company and may feel more comfortable talking to her about your other questions.
If you don't feel comfortable asking about maternity leave policies, look up your prospective employer in Fairygodboss' maternity leave database and read the company's profile to see how other women who work/have worked there rate the policies.
In sum, be cautious and curious but there’s no reason to assume things will be terrible. In fact, you may discover that things look so promising that you even decide to volunteer your pregnancy.
Make sure to know the legality behind your company's leave policies. Check out Fairygodboss resources like Maternity Leave 101 and search for your state's laws specifically, which you can also do on the site.
Ask around — if you know anyone who has taken leave or know anyone who knows anyone, you can ask them what the company policy was like and how they were treated upon their return.
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