Family Magazine

Ask Michelle: Interviewing and Pregnancy

By Michelle Merritt @michellemerritt
I need your advice. I'm interviewing for a new job. I'm very excited about the position and very happy with how well the process is going so far. I wouldn't be surprised to be getting an offer soon. The issue? I'm pregnant. And very excited and happy about that, too! But I am worrying if I'm being deceitful, or putting my potential future employer in an awkward position by not telling them at this point. I'm not so far along that it's obvious, but far enough along that I'm starting to tell people. I am taking this career decision very seriously and, of course, will be fully committed to my professional responsibilities. Should I say something now? If not now, when?

Dear Excited and Happy,

As you likely already know, it is illegal to treat pregnant women differently than any other candidates (this was established by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978). While I appreciate your desire to be honest and up front with your potential future colleagues, remember that this is not really that different from someone who is considering a new job but has pre-planned surgery or an extended vacation already booked.

I would suggest you don't "muddy the process" at this point. Hold off until an offer has been extended and you have accepted it and are negotiating your start date, time off, etc. I would urge you to keep in mind that unexpected things can happen between now and the offer actually coming in, for example:

  • you could learn something about the job or the company that makes you no longer interested in the position
  • you could learn of another position that is more appealing
  • you could decide that your current job is a better fit
  • they could extend an offer that is unacceptable to you
  • and, the sad, but very real, fact that 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, especially during the first trimester - maintaining your privacy on this topic for as long as possible is more than understandable

When you are ready to have the conversation with your new employer, do address their likely concerns from the get-go. Remind them of your commitment to the company - your goals for your work there and how they align with your own career goals. Talk about your expected due date and your plans for leave and returning to work. Emphasize your intent to use your time before the baby arrives to develop and implement a plan so your leave time will have as little impact as possible.

As you evaluate their offer, be honest with yourself about what you are looking for - especially after the baby arrives. Are things like being able to work from home, a flexible schedule, or a short commute going to be more important to you than in the past? Consider these and discuss them with your potential employer.

Remember that almost all employees have reasons (often completely unexpected) to be on leave for extended periods of time: injuries, serious illness, caring for sick family member, or a death in the family. Employers don't refuse to hire people because these circumstances may arise. Pregnancy should not be considered differently - except for the beneficial fact the you, your team, and your bosses can be better prepared because it's known about far in advance.

I hope this helps, and wish you all the best in BOTH of your exciting new endeavors!

- Michelle


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