As if getting pregnant wasn’t already a big enough deal, sometimes life throws you even more of a curve ball. What if you lost your job just before you got pregnant or just started interviewing while you’re pregnant?
Is it even possible to get a job while you’re pregnant?
For Rubina Madan Fillion, that’s exactly what happened. She found out she was pregnant just after she started interviewing for a new full-time job. *Gulp.*
Rubina was happily working at the Wall Street Journal when she was recruited to be the Digital Engagement Editor at the Intercept, an online news publication. She was pregnant during her first interview but just didn’t know it yet.
After she found out, she didn’t say anything because she was so early in both her pregnancy and the process. By the time she got the job offer, though, it was already her second trimester. She was understandably concerned about leaving the stability of her former employer for the risk that came with a new job. So she decided to tell her future employer to see how they’d react.
When they didn’t bat an eye and seemed happy for her, she took the leap despite feeling “really, really” nervous. She told Cosmo:
“They assured me when I got the offer that they would give me some paid leave, and I formally accepted right after that. I was terrified of switching jobs because of issues like maternity leave, and it ended up being the best thing for me... To say I’m lucky is a huge understatement. I can’t even begin to compare my situation to most women’s. I’m completely appalled that most women in this country get no paid maternity leave. I had two friends whose companies did not have a very good maternity leave policy who just resigned when they went on maternity leave. It happens all the time.”
Michelle Horton kept her secret close, calling it "the ticking clock in (her) belly," and followed what she saw as being “every ‘career expert’s’ advice on how to interview while pregnant.” That is, she didn’t say a word about her pregnancy.
She interviewed uncomfortably, feeling like the secret was written all over her face, and waited until she got an offer to break the news. As she remembers:
“I called the group of middle-aged men into the conference room and confessed the truth: ‘I’m with child, gentlemen.’ ‘Oh, we love babies,’ one of them uncomfortably squealed. ‘It’s no problem at all,’ they promised with pumped-up enthusiasm."
You can probably guess the way this story ends.
Of course, they rescinded offer with an explanation that had nothing to do with her pregnancy. And maybe it really was the timing of the recession.
Managers and companies have to do the right thing, in other words, the stars basically have to align. That’s why the conventional wisdom is still what it is: you don’t talk about pregnancy while interviewing. You just don’t know if you’re going to be discriminated against.
Of course, most women give up on hiding things once they’re showing. If that’s you, you still don’t have to talk about it. Certainly not during a phone interview, but potentially not even in person.
You might be thinking: but isn’t that awkward? Won’t it seem dishonest? It’s not legal to ask about a pregnancy, so you have no obligation to disclose it. The issue is not really about honesty, but there is no one-size-fits-all advice here.
If you think it’s ridiculous to not discuss your baby, consider the story of Joan Fradella, an accountant and purchasing agent in West Palm Beach who went on not just one but two interviews on her actual due date.
She was obviously showing, but she didn’t let that prevent her from pursuing the opportunities that interested her. Her advice is not to acknowledge your pregnancy if you don’t want to. She reasons: “In the past, I have interviewed knowing I had a family vacation I had no intention of cancelling even if I was to be offered the job. I didn’t bring that up, because it is the not the company’s business during an interview.”
Talk about a poker-face.