Killer Interview Question: Do You Have Any Kids?

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The interviewer might just be trying to make conversation but this question could leave some job applicants squirming in their chairs.

Children. Love them or hate them, most people are going to have at least one during the course of their lives. Some individuals relish the idea of having a family, but there's no doubt children can be time consuming. Some companies may consider employees with family commitments bad for business.

Let's make one thing clear: it is illegal for potential employers to disqualify somebody from a job on offer on the basis that they have children. This is especially pertinent for women given that some employers may still have an archaic mindset that motherly responsibilities may compromise their commitment to work.

For an employer to ask whether you have any kids, it could be that they are trying to find out if your work ethics will be compromised due to personal 'distractions', which is completely inappropriate, or they may just be trying to make conversation. While you're not obliged to answer the question, if you don't you may come across as rude. So how can you answer this question?

Employment expert and business author Lynn Taylor suggested a number of ways to respond and none of them involve flat-out answering the question. Stay calm, don't get emotional and try to rephrase the question. Here's Taylor's sample response:

"Perhaps you’re asking if I’m focused on my work, can travel, or handle late hours. I can tell you that I have a very strong work ethic, regardless of what happens in my family life, and feel I can contribute a lot, particularly in the [xyz] area. I would like to know more about your goals for xyz."

Or you can choose to keep it vague:

"I try to keep business and personal matters like that separate. I don’t think that my family life would ever affect my ability to do an excellent job here."

How would you tackle this question? Have you ever been asked this question in an interview? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Business Insider Australia]


Comments

    One thing I've noticed over the years, if someone has kids, they will be sick 2-3x as much as someone who doesn't typically. Kids get sick and need looking after, your partner catches it and needs looking after, you catch it and need looking after, etc. Plus the fact they're always at work sick because they have to save their sick/carers leave for when the kid is sick.

    I got asked this during an interview...
    Interviewer: Do you spend alot of time with family commitments, do you have children?
    Me: No, I'm gay...I have cats, apparently you have to feed kids everyday, my cats are ok if I forget.

    I got the job
    I manage to last three days with these people before I realised I made a terrible mistake

      They didn't like cats?

        they didnt provide a lunchroom or a place where u could have your break...instead they encouraged employees to have their lunch at their desks...and oh if the phone rings while youre eating do u mind answering it ...and could you make sure you dont go to the bathroom at the same time as someone else..we only like one person at a time away from their desks..

        should i go on..

          Please don't.
          That's terrible. I hope you find a better job!

          I would have no problems with any of those things (he says as he sits at his desk eating his lunch). they seem to me to be perfectly sensible things.

          i on the other hand am interested in the ridiculousness of what else they expected, BUT, also hope you ended up in a better job.

    If this question is asked in any other context than a social one, RUN AWAY from that company as fast as you can.

    I will answer the question. But if I don't get the job I will lodge a complaint.

      Yes . Totally agree. That should be the way to throw it back. The burden to prove that the company did not discriminate based on carer responsibilities would be with the company, and we all would not have to answer this question in future.

        I was asked this question on a previous interview. Ended up getting the job. So I was hamstrung. I didn't complain as I didn't want to rock the boat. It damaged the recruiter brand though. I won't be hiring through them.

      Until you find out they were only asking so they could organise age and gender appropriate gifts to give your children at the annual Christmas party they organise for their staff and families. Then you'll look like a tool.

        You got me. Recruiters often organise Christmas gifts on behalf of the company they are recruiting for, for people that have not signed a contract. They do this at no extra charge and are happy to provide the service for all prospective candidates. It's a win-win.

    There are few things that shit me more about work than having to cover for some prick whose kid is sick. It's nothing short of a rort and discriminates against people who have made the responsible decision not to contribute to climate change in the worst possible way.

    ive never had a job interview in my adult life. im hoping im wise enough to have an intelligent non threatening answer to these sort of questions when it does come around.

    i never got asked this question, i change my job reasonably frequent being a contractor - there are many questions such as 'this role requires you to do occasional travel' but not 'do you have any kids'.

    how do you determine if that is being asked, whether it is in the social tone or not? and if you do not end up getting the job, how do you make a case that you did not get selected because having kids is the key reason?

    after all, if they do not want you is because you have kids, you probably don't want to work there anyway, you know, you kids do get sick and you need to leave by 4pm to pick them up. find some job that they are ok with it is win for both.

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