Pregnancy Disclosure During Job Interviews: To Tell or Not To Tell?

In a perfect world, it would make no difference to a prospective employer if you were pregnant or not. The 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Actwas meant to bring that perfect world a giant step closer to reality but today, decades later, to tell or not to tell is still a weighty consideration. Here’s what some career consultants and pregnant job applicants have to say about if, when, and how to disclose your pregnancy during the job interview process.

Pregnant at work deskTest the Waters
When Karin Zannella was job hunting in 2011, her pregnancy wasn’t showing yet. She was torn between telling or not telling but chose the honest route. She was facing round #3 of interviews with two promising companies when she told them she was pregnant. She asked how pregnancy affected her job chances, what each company’s maternity leave policy was, and if she could work from home a few days after giving birth. Both companies offered her a job. She chose the one most accommodating of a new mom.

When the Baby Bump Speaks
Don’t try to ignore a baby bump that can’t be hidden. Acknowledge the pregnancy and be prepared to offer a strategy for handling the job as childbirth nears. Tell your interviewer what measures you’ll take so the pregnancy and a new baby will have the least impact on the job, advises Katie Donovan, a salary negotiation consultant.

Job Duties
We often learn more about the details of the job as the interview process progresses. If it becomes obvious along the way that duties won’t be pregnancy-friendly (heavy lifting, standing all day, chemical toxins in the workplace, erratic schedule, etc.), it’s best to tell as soon as possible, according to Donovan.

When Too Soon Is Too Soon
Victoria Pynchon, a career and salary strategist for women, had a client who wasn’t pregnant but was expecting a child via a surrogate. Maternity leave was important to her but she chose to keep her plans private. The pregnancy was just beginning, still in the first trimester. Pregnancy loss is very high at this stage so she didn’t want to jeopardize her chance at the job until the pregnancy was farther along and a more sure thing.

Put a Positive Spin on It
Karen Sommer Shalett was obviously pregnant with baby #2 when she was job hunting. She put her best foot forward from the beginning of the interview and, when given the opportunity to ask questions, she suggested she and the interviewer “talk about the elephant in the room.” She remained confident, positive, and upbeat as she emphasized the value of her commitment to her job and to her family. This approach sets up the employer for a positive reaction to the applicant and her pregnancy.

The strategists don’t all agree on the best way to approach the subject of pregnancy during a job interview. Too many variables make one sure answer impossible. What they do all say in common is to never apologize for the pregnancy or the intent to use maternity leave. “Maternity leave is your right. Never apologize for using it,” says Donovan.


Source: Torrieri, Marisa. “Should you disclose your pregnancy to a potential employer?” THE WEEK. THE WEEK Publications, Inc. May 19, 2014. Web. Jun 10, 2014.

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