What To Expect from a Job Interview When You’re Expecting

I finally managed to land a job interview. For a real job I would actually love to have! I’m beyond excited, but the interview is TOMORROW. Btw, seriously, people? You call up a job candidate to ask “What are you doing tomorrow between 11-12:30?” because that’s your only available window for an interview? Hmmm. I’m guessing I was on the alternates list.

I can’t afford any interview clothes but lucky for me, my pre-pregnancy wardrobe still fits okay (mostly). I can barely zip the skirt, but with my cheap imitation Bella band, it should be fine. So, if you find yourself in this situation, here is my advice:

  • Wear prints on top. It’s distracting and no one can tell that there’s a growing bump.
  • Wear a jacket or sweater, or even just a long scarf over the printed top. (Maybe she’s just locally fat?)
  • You could do crazy make-up. Then they’ll be puzzling over your face and too distracted to look south at your belly.
  • Don’t accept the bottled water they’ll offer you. You have to pee every 3 seconds anyway, so don’t press your luck.

And when they hand you a document to sign that says:

“[Employer] takes pride in the quality of employees to whom we have extended employment opportunities. In an effort to ensure that you are taking every advantage of your new employee training period, we highly suggest that you maintain 100% attendance during the training phase. Tardiness and/or absenteeism may result in disciplinary action. To ensure your employment success, we ask employees to keep their schedules free of extended appointments and vacations during the first 6 months of employment. Please provide us with the information below if you are not able to currently modify any future appointments. Requests for time off are not guaranteed and may not be paid during your first 90 days of employment. Leaving this section blank indicates your schedule is free of appointments…”

Lie. Lie, lie, lie.

Here’s the thing: if I were obviously pregnant, I probably would have been honest on the form because my interviewers would just march back to HR and say, “Either she’s pregnant or she swallowed a bowling ball.” But I’m not obviously pregnant. Even though I’m due in 3 1/2  months, I’m not really showing. I was able to wear my regular non-maternity clothes to the interview, and by wearing busy prints on top, I can further distract from what’s going on.

More importantly, I’m not sure how I was supposed to handle this.

After I’d been laid off, I got in touch with my HR representative at the museum where I’d worked to ask how to handle the pregnancy disclosure at job interviews and negotiations, and she said in no uncertain terms that I should not say anything until I recieve an offer. (An aside: My friends have been incredibly naive about this, btw. They’re all up on a soapbox screaming “You can’t do that! Employers can’t not hire you just because you’re pregnant! That’s discrimination!” News flash: Sure, employers can’t discriminate against you because you’re pregnant, but they can find *other* reasons not to hire you, including the all-purpose “It just isn’t the right fit right now.”)

So by saying on the form, uh, I’m going to need time off during the training phase to keep up with my bi-weekly, soon to be weekly, doctor’s appointments, that could be a major red flag and they could just say, well, maybe the timing isn’t right right now since you can’t commit to our training attendance policy. And by saying, uh, I’m going to need at least 6 weeks off this summer, they could not hire me because I’m asking for extensive time off during my probationary phase. So I left it blank and signed it. We’ll have to wait to see what unfolds

A Small Break

I have some good news: I found a job! I’m working on weekends at a tax preparer’s office around the corner answering phones, filing, etc.

Okay, so it doesn’t exactly make use of all my skills and abilities…and it doesn’t pay all that well…and it’s only through the tax season…but still: a job. I really had to do some fancy footwork to convince the tax preparer that I would stick around through April 15 once she saw my resume. She was skeptical…and I get it. This kind of work isn’t exactly what I would have envisioned given my resume, either. But I was just honest: Look, I need work. And I saw your ad on Craigslist – your office is right around the corner from my house. And I’m not looking to do this long-term. I’m reliable, I can do the work, and I need a job. So maybe it was a pity hire, but it was just the break I needed. If nothing else, it makes me feel better that someone is willing to take a chance on me because so far, the jobs that do align with my abilities haven’t been calling me. At all.

And there are good things about it too: the tax preparer said (and I quote): “I don’t care what you do while you’re here – surf the web, read, work on other stuff – as long as you get the phones answered and the tax returns filed.” So I have 28 hours a week (Thursdays through Saturdays) when I get paid to surf the web looking for work and work on cover letters and resumes. And I don’t have to use gas money (that I don’t have) to get to work. The way I see it, the worst that could happen is I use the time to try to line up another part-time job for the workweek.

By the Numbers

I haven’t had much to blog about lately. Last time I checked in here, I was excited about a couple leads I had. Which led nowhere. No responses, no phone calls, no emails…nothing. And both positions have been filled (or at least have disappeared off the series of tubes). In the meantime, I’ve been trolling the web looking for work, and fired off a few applications but nothing exciting on the horizon. Here’s a look at the jobs hunt thus far, by the numbers:

  • Number of months I have been looking for work: 8
    • I started looking May 1, 2010 – a full 3 ½ months before I would be officially notified I was getting laid off (and 6 months before I was laid off). Luckily, I had started looking because I had already seen the writing on the wall – that I was next in line for a layoff at the museum I worked for  – but I’d also already decided it was time for a change for myself – to work in something other than museums.

In those 8 months…

  • Number of local museum job openings: 2
    • Number applied for: 2
    • Number of interviews: 2 (1 for each opening)
    • Number of offers: 0
    • Both were entry-level, and so I was “not the right fit” for either. One even told me she would kill to have me but that “you would be bored to death.”
  • Number of exhibit writing job openings anywhere: 1
    • Number of interviews: 0
    • Though it was out of state, I figured why not apply since at least it’s in my wheelhouse. Would have crossed any out-of-state bridge in the unlikely event it had come to it
  • Number of copyediting and/or proofreading jobs applied for: 4
    • Number of interviews: 0
  • Number of random other jobs that correlate directly to my experience: 1
    • Number of interviews: 0

That’s pretty much the long and the short of jobs that are remotely parallel to my experience, skills, and abilities, and/or align even a little bit with my qualifications. I’ve switched up my strategy – I’m going to apply for any and all jobs – retail, restaurants, whatever. I’ll just keep at it til I find a paycheck.