I’ve had more conversations than I ever imagined I would with my junior female colleagues about whether they should wear wedding rings to interviews. Many people have been advised or read in some advice column that they should not wear rings, or anything else that may indicate to the interviewer their personal circumstances. In my experience, most of my colleagues ultimately decide not to wear rings. They don’t want questions about their spouse or children that could cause potential employers to question their seriousness about the position or their ability to switch jobs. Obviously, the decision to disclose your personal status — as a wife, mother, or racial or gender minority — is a deeply personal decision.
This is also a highly consequential decision, as research shows that disclosing such information during an interview can affect how potential employers perceive a candidate’s seriousness. for jobs, their willingness to work long hours and ultimately their ability to offer them a job. In a study of student recruitment, sociologist Lauren Rivera, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management, concludes from her field observations of recruitment meetings that academic hiring committees ” actively consider the relationship status of women – but not men when selecting tenants” in a way that ultimately disadvantaged women. In another study by psychologists Alexander Jordan and Emily Zitek, participants found that single or married job applicants from fictional Facebook pages rated married female applicants are less hardworking and less suitable for a demanding job than single female applicants.
I think we can agree that someone’s marital status does not determine whether or not they are employed. However, whether explicitly or implicitly, it seems to play a role in hiring decisions. This is why we have protections for job candidates that allow them to keep this information — and other information — private if they so desire. Questions about marital status, pregnancy, religion, and mental health, such as a few others, should not be asked – not necessarily because they are asked illegally, but because they are open to the public. the possibility that a candidate’s answers to the question can be used against them in the hiring process. Ultimately, it’s better not to know a candidate is pregnant, so it’s unlikely that will affect your decision about whether to hire her or not.
If you don’t know, it’s best not to ask. And this is a place where many of us slip up. We often forget how hard it is for people to turn down a request or avoid answering a question, especially when the question comes from a potential employer.
In a study of applicants to medical residency programs, researchers found that 66% — more than 7,000 out of about 11,000 survey respondents — reported being asked a question interview is potentially illegal. 53%, or more than 5,700 interviewees, said they had been asked about their marital status, and 24%, or more than 2,500 interviewed, said they had or are planning to have children. Not surprisingly, these questions are more directed at women than men. Candidates also said they were asked about age, religion, and sexual orientation — all of which is protected class information, meaning employers cannot legally use the information.
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