How would men respond to illegal interview questions?

by Dec 14, 2015

Men respond to illegal interview questions

I decided to find out how men would respond to illegal interview questions centred on family planning and childcare. Their answers might surprise you. Read: How will men respond to illegal interview questions?

Men who have it all

The gender reverse tweets of the parody Twitter account @themanwhohasitall are super hilarious. The writer projects a world where men receive the same advice as women. They therefore presumably have the same challenges, in what I hope is a more gender balanced workplace. Along with several tens of thousands, I shared them on Twitter and Facebook. But later I reconsidered. This tongue in cheek humour is but another form of patronising indulgence. A distraction from the real issues. Some might even dare to call it benevolent sexism Read: Funny but not really funny .

Workplaces are seeing a shift to an extension of parenting leave, with Mark Zuckerberg leading the way with his 2 months paternity leave, versus Marissa Mayer’s “limited time” following the birth of twins. Read: OPINION: Mothers of twins should ignore Marissa Mayer.

I decided to ask real men would respond to the illegal interview questions women are regularly posed.  These questions unashamedly relate to family planning and childcare arrangements.

Advice overload for women

men respond to illegal interview questions

To put this in context, the advice overload that women are subjected to around interviewing while pregnant, handling maternity leave, and dealing with sexist interview questions, is significant. If our results are anything to go by HR and hiring Managers will have to get their acts together with their interview questions.

A resounding 60% of men polled indicated that this type of questioning was “none of their business” to the question asker. “Irrelevant to the discussion”  was the response to other questions related to having children or childcare or their ability to do the job.

Will there be a flurry of activity to coach men in dealing with this new challenge? I doubt it. Will we see posts entitled “How to deal with your travel schedule while TTC” (Trying to conceive)  I doubt that too.



men respond to illegal interview questions

  • One commented: “Are you happy that I am recording this interview? If so, could you please repeat the question for future reference.”
  •  Many turned the question back with ones of their own e.g. “How is this relevant to the discussion?”
  •  5% said “I would have concerns about the integrity of the whole process because the questions were asked in the first place”
  • Of course I’m going to say “Hell no, work is important, but you try to stop me when I do take parental leave.”

More and more men will continue to participate in childcare and expect to take parenting leave. It seems they will come to interviews with a less defensive approach than women.

The lesson for women is surely to do the same and ask “Help me understand how this is relevant to my ability to do the job?”

I am still not convinced men would even be asked those questions in the first place. The only time I have seen men quizzed about their families was in relation to school fees as part of a compensation package. At that point an offer had been made.

Only time will tell! What do you think?

Contact 3Plus for a 30 minute introductory career advice call

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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