Debra Auerbach | March 14, 2018
You’re in the middle of a job search – which is stressful enough. And oh, by the way, you’re also pregnant. It may seem like a challenging time to be looking for a new job or making a career change, but interviewing while pregnant – and getting hired – is possible, you just need to be prepared.
Here, career experts weigh in on your legal rights, how to ease employers’ concerns, and how to put your best (swollen) foot forward during the interview.
Determining whether the job is a fit
Even before you go in for the interview, you will want to conduct some research to make sure that the company will provide you with the benefits you need post-pregnancy and as a working mom. “Unless the employer’s policies say otherwise, you will not be eligible for Family & Medical Leave (and hence benefits) until you have worked for your employer for approximately one year,” says Staci McIntosh, author of “Wheels Up: Mastering the Job Interview to Launch Your Career” who has 20-plus years of HR experience. “Check out their policies for exact timelines, rules and benefits.”
She also encourages you to determine the job’s demands ahead of time. “If it’s clear the employer needs someone who will be able to work 10 hours a day or travel because of a specific project right now, you may want to pass.”
Disclosing your pregnancy to employers
According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, discriminating against a woman because she is pregnant is illegal. Also, women are not legally obligated to tell a prospective employer they’re pregnant.
While some experts say there is no reason to disclose this information to employers, especially if you’re not showing, others say it’s sometimes better to be upfront and transparent.
“If you’re not showing, I still recommend you address the pregnancy so the employer doesn’t feel ‘tricked,’” McIntosh says. “This is a personal choice, but in the long run, they will respect you for telling them even though they would not have known.”
Bottom line: It’s your choice and it comes down to what you’re most comfortable with sharing.
Why employers care
Today, the value women bring to the workplace – and the fight for equal pay – are front and center, so it seems contradictory that a woman becoming pregnant is a concern for employers. The reason, though, is important to understand, so you can properly address it.
“While it’s illegal for a company to withhold a job offer from you because you’re pregnant, unfortunately, many employers will consider your pregnancy — and impending maternity leave — to be an unnecessary burden,” says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume and mother of a two year-old son.
“There are two main concerns employers typically have when it comes to hiring someone who is pregnant:
Talking about your pregnancy
In order to reassure employers, Augustine suggests coming prepared to the interview with answers about the timing of your maternity leave and how you’ll have your duties covered in your absence.
She also says to reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and your interest in a long-term career at the organization. “If the employer hints at having concerns about the time you’d need off for your maternity leave, cheerfully remind them that, in the grand scheme of things, your maternity leave will be a brief absence over the course of your time with them. Then, ask the employer a question to shift the conversation away from your family plans and back to where it should be focused — on the job requirements and your qualifications.”
Make sure you’re also prepared with questions to ask the employer. Here are some of the best questions to ask in the interview.