A Pregnant (Career) Pause

Can being visibly pregnant during a job interview hurt my chances of getting hired?

"Our fair labor laws say pregnancy shouldn’t affect a hiring decision," says Nadia Sellers, CEO of National Career Group Training and Development Corp. in Lansing, Michigan, "but the reality is that it probably will." That’s because these laws only prohibit an employer from inquiring about whether a prospective employee is pregnant, not from making a personal judgment call if the answer is already evident.

The unfortunate truth is that a pregnancy can be seen as liability, and most companies aren’t willing to take that kind of risk with a new hire. While you may only be thinking of your qualifications, a prospective employer is busy wondering whether you’ll be able to perform your job reliably. Are you planning on taking maternity leave, and if so, for how long? Will you even want to return to work full time once the baby is born?

In an informal poll of six human resources managers, most said that a pregnancy would indeed hurt an applicant’s chances, but that it wouldn’t be openly acknowledged in a hiring decision. In other words, you could miss out on a job without even realizing it.

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