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  • These days, many households include two parents who both work full-time.
  • These parents face many challenges while balancing work and child-care responsibilities.
  • But this situation also presents a challenge for each parent's employer.
    • For instance, when children reach school-age, one parent is typically obliged to pick up each child from school(s); and so, that parent may be entirely unable to work overtime.
    • And when a school-age child is sick, one parent may need to stay home.

So my question is:

  • When interviewing, is it prudent to tell the hiring manager that you're a parent and your spouse works full-time?
  • There are a lot of related answers on this question. – enderland Apr 27 '13 at 20:48
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    @enderland: Not even close. // I'm not asking if it's appropriate for the hiring manager to ask this sort of question. Of course it's not. I'm asking if it's prudent to disclose this type of information. You may have noticed - Many Workplace.SE users encourage people to be extremely honest with prospective employers. – Jim G. Apr 27 '13 at 20:52
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    Which is why they are related answers, rather than this question being identical. – enderland Apr 27 '13 at 20:55
  • @enderland: OK. That's fair. – Jim G. Apr 27 '13 at 20:55
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    There are a lot of questions you as a candidate can ask to gauge whether or not the work environment is a good fit for the demands of your personal life. I sometimes divulge things employers aren't allowed to ask because if they're going to discriminate against me based on that, I probably wouldn't want to work there anyway. Having that resolved in the form of a non-offer before you start working there is much better than discovering it's a problem after you've started. – Blrfl Apr 28 '13 at 1:47
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In my opinion, this isn't the kind of information you want to disclose. Most shops won't ask about it. You don't want to raise a red flag unnecessarily. Leave it unsaid unless you need to do otherwise.

On the other hand, you do want to learn about the company culture as it relates to a family-friendly environment, overtime requirements, weekend/night work, etc. You need to see if they meet your needs. That sort of thing usually comes out at some point during your interviews, often when talking with an HR representative. If it doesn't you'll need to find some way to approach the question.

In my shop, our culture is very family-friendly. I allow people to work from home when they feel it is best (perhaps due to childcare issues), and allow them a lot of flexibility in regard to when they arrive at work and when they leave. It works out well for me to arrive before 7:00 AM, and usually leave by 5:30 PM. Others like to arrive after 10:00 and stay late.

If the family-friendliness isn't clear, you'll need to ask. You don't want to be in an environment that isn't a good fit for you and your family. And the employer doesn't want people who can't work the style they require either. Interviews are all about fit - on both sides.

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    Seconded. You shouldn't be asking them "can people with kids work here"; you should be asking "how flexible are the work hours?" and "if I need to leave early one day can I work from home later in the evening?" and stuff like that. (Not worded those exact ways; I'm trying to fit within the narrow margins of this comment. But the point is: ask about the policies that might affect you, not about your status.) – Monica Cellio Apr 28 '13 at 18:58
  • working 7:00-5:30? o.O – acolyte Apr 29 '13 at 15:39
  • @JoeStrazzere wow...that seems like a lot. – acolyte Apr 29 '13 at 16:33
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Your mileage may vary, but let me tell you about one of my best hires. He contacted me for a job and told me this story:

8 days ago my first child was born. I stayed off work for a week and when I came back, I asked my manager about changing my hours so that I could spend time at home with him. My manager reacted very poorly, told me that all his staff worked full time, reminded me I had three mouths to feed now, and encouraged me to go home and think about my priorities. I have thought about them, and that is why I would like to come and work for you.

We hired him 20 hours a week at first, and he decided when he was ready to go up to 40. His wife and baby accompanied him when I sent him to a conference (he paid for their plane tickets, I covered the hotel room since it cost no extra for him to share it.) Not all employers would react the way we did, but by being a family-friendly employer we got a great hire. By being clear about what he wanted, he got what he wanted. If you're good, this can work for everyone. But don't do it if you're ordinary :-)

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It is considered none of their business. They should not be making their hiring decisions having this knowledge. You are supposed to determine if the job will fit your personal circumstances. Otherwise why would one hire a young woman (child care falls disproportionately on the woman in the relationship on a societal basis) who just had a baby when they had a good single candiate? How would parents with seriously ill children ever get new jobs? How would single people get jobs if the hiring manager thinks everone should be married? Your personal life circumstances are not the business of the hiring panel unless you choose to ask for some type of special treatment. In hiring, asking for any special treament due to your personal life before they have decided to hire you would be likely to move you down the list of people they are interested in and should be left until you are negotiating an offer.

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Prudent? No. Naive? Probably. Like HLGEM rightly stated, it's not their business and a hiring decision based on that information is borderline illegal. Such information, I believe falls under the no-need-to-know category. It's almost effectively the same as stating it on your resume along with:

  • Gender
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Health Peculiarities

To be frank one or both of the last two might affect your ability to perform, but you're not obligated to disclose either. Same goes here.

It's more to do with being honest with yourself than with the employer. You're well within your rights to inquire the schedule and nature of your prospective job (actually, you'd be wise to do so) and determine for yourself; whether your schedule will adversely affect delivery of your job functions.

If however you BS yourself into taking a position you were fully aware would not fit into your personal obligations, and it turns out to be a crapshoot, you have only yourself to hold accountable

  • Legality and appropriateness of these questions is highly depend on culture and country. In the US it's illegal, in Germany it's the norm to have all of that (including children's age) on your resume. – Hilmar Apr 28 '13 at 11:47
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No, I don't think you should offer this information at all during an interview. They could misinterpret it from, "no worries, I'm sure you can afford a baby-sitter" to "warning: candidtate won't be willing to put in absurd hours."

If a company has time expectations, they need to inform you during the interview. They should be upfront about: travel, business hours, over-time, time-off, vacation, sick leave, etc. A company is putting themselves at risk by being shaddy about this subject and get what they deserve if they trick candidates into taking a job that doesn't fit their lifestyle.

It's up to you to determine if you are able to work under these restrictions.

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