Interview with "Inappropriate" Questions

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    Hello everyone,

    I have been a LPN for two years and have worked in both home health and long term care. I've decided to try a new avenue with my career and have been applying to some physician's offices. Today, I had an interview at a Dermatology clinic. It seems like a nice office, with two doctors and a physician's assistant, and the manager said they stay very busy. The position would be full-time, with benefits, with a reasonable rate of pay.

    Everything seemed to go well with the interview, but I was caught off guard by a couple of questions that were asked and now, looking back, I'm wondering if I even should have answered the questions. The practice manager (who is a medical assistant) was asking me how flexible I am able to be with regards to working hours (staying late, coming in early, coming in on days off, etc.), which is a fine and reasonable question. However, she the went on to bluntly and directly ask me, "Do you have children?" I've never been asked that in an interview before, so I stammered for a second, and then I went on to tell her the truth, that yes, I do have two children. She then proceeded to ask their ages (they're 8 & 7) and even went on to ask if I have appropriate childcare lined up (of course I do--I'm already working in a nursing home!). After I answered, she went on to explain that the reason she asked is because she had an employee last year who had to be terminated for excessive absences due to her children being ill, the babysitter calling off at the last minute, etc. and that she doesn't want to go down that road again.

    Now, I can understand where she's coming from. I realize that they need someone who can be reliable, dependable, flexible, etc. But I'm not sure if she knows that asking someone directly, "Do you have children?" or "Are you married?" during a job interview is actually ILLEGAL. I was talking to my brother, who owns his own company and has conducted many interviews, and he told me to check the labor board website because there's a list of "illegal" questions that employers are not allowed to ask you during an interview. Sure enough, nearly every question she asked me was on that list. To my understanding, it can put them at risk of a discrimination suit if they ask those questions and then choose not to hire someone.

    Honestly, I do not feel like I'm even going to get a call back after the interview. I felt like it went downhill after she started asking me about my personal life (marriage, kids, childcare, etc.). I did not really feel comfortable discussing those things with her during the interview, so my answers became rather short and guarded. I'm just not sure if I handled this correctly. Should I report this to someone if I don't get hired? How can I prove that she "discriminated" against me for having children, instead of just hiring a more qualified person? Would it be better, if this problem ever arises in future interviews, to just point out right then and there that I don't wish to discuss my family life during the interview? Has anyone else ever had this same issue? Thanks!

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  2. 19 Comments...

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    While i have never been asked these questions , i have known they are illegal. If a prospective imployer were to ask these questions, i would simply deny the job politely because there's no telling how management performs "behind the scenes" i would imagine not very well. Good luck on your job hunt and proceed with caution.
    WannaBNursey and samadams8 like this.
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    Thank you Katieerin. That's what I'm thinking, too. I actually did not realize the questions were illegal until I was talking with my brother after the interview, and he told me to check in to it. I just know that I've never had anyone ask me if I'm married, have children, etc. in an interview before.

    Another thing she kept doing was calling all of the patient care staff "nurses," even though over half of them are medical assistants. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against medical assistants. They serve an important purpose, just like LPNs, RNs, CNAs, etc. But they are NOT nurses and should not be titled as such. I am a LPN, and I don't expect someone to call me a medical assistant. Again, not an insult to medical assistants at all. But she told me, "I call all of us nurses because we perform the same functions as a nurse, even if we're a medical assistant." Thinking maybe this job isn't the best choice?
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    Completely agree. So many red flags on their part just from the interview.
    tewdles and silverbat like this.
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    Asking you about marriage, children, and child care is illegal for them to bring up during an interview. However they can ask other questions that could lead you into volunteering information about your family situation. You would need to consider carefully if you would want to work in this office especially if the M.A. is your direct superior and you didn't get a "good vibe" about the environment. Good Luck!
    Heavenly4505 likes this.
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    Thank you dah doh! I answered her question when she asked if I could be flexible with my work schedule. But like I said, she then bluntly and directly said to me, "Do you have children?" She then asked how old they are, if I have childcare, and if I'm married. I don't ever volunteer personal information during an interview because I don't feel comfortable talking about it, no matter what kinds of "leading" questions they ask me.
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    Sometimes the questions are appropriate. I've asked an out of state interviewee what bought them to this state? They answered, my wife got a job at XYZ company so we decided to move out here. We didn't ask about marital status, it was volunteered by the applicant, but he could have said anything. What you did is appropriate, but what your interviewer did was not. She could have been unaware what she did was illegal or she could just not care about legalities. Either way, caution should be instituted about accepting this job if you didn't get a good feeling about it.
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    Yes, I don't feel comfortable about this position. I did not volunteer any information about having children, a spouse, etc. She asked, "Can you be flexible with your work schedule? Can you work overtime or come in early if we need you to?" I simply responded with, "Yes I can." That was all I said. Then that's when she said, "Do you have children?"
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    Any questions seeking information about your personal status (marital status, children, religion, gender identity, etc) are illegal. Here's a link to a great tool that I have used with manager training classes.

    If you feel very strongly about this, you can report it to your state Attorney General's office. They may respond simply with an official warning - letting the employer know that there has been a complaint & they (the company) are now being 'watched' or go into a full-blown investigation. In the latter case, you may be deposed as part of the process.

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