“I’m interviewing for a new job, and I’m three months pregnant. Do I have any obligation to tell my interviewers?”

Question: My field of work is investor relations. It’s a very intense type of work, especially these days; to put it mildly, investors are not a happy bunch of people at the moment.

I am in my fourth round of interviewing for a new position, one that gives me greater responsibilities, more visibility, higher compensation, and a larger platform for career growth. I’m also three months pregnant with our first child, and wondering when might be the right time to bring this up? Might I be guilty of some kind of “fraud” if I don’t tell them before we reach final agreement?

Felice Storrs, CT

Answer: My view on this question is quite clear and firm:

First, you have no obligation whatsoever – neither legal nor moral – to raise the subject at any time during interviews. It is entirely irrelevant to your qualifications for the job. Pregnancy is a subject that is as near to “forbidden” as subjects come in the context of interviews. Your pregnancy is entirely your (and your partner’s) own business, no one else’s. Only if and when it becomes a subject of relevance – if and when the time comes when it’s necessary to talk about a leave of absence – need it be raised with your employer.

Pregnancy and childbirth are the most personal of matters. So is the fact of a person’s cancer and cancer treatment. As is the severe illness of a child, spouse, partner, sibling and parent. Only if and when such very personal circumstances may become relevant to the work we do each day, and the work schedule we keep, does it become necessary, and appropriate, to raise it with colleagues and superiors.

Second, you are actually doing your interviewers a favor by not mentioning it. If you do raise the subject, then you are placing them into the position of having to try not to factor what data they’ve just learned into their decision of who to hire. That places them in an almost no-win situation, where they may become afraid NOT to hire you.

About two years ago, the exact same question was raised by a columnist in the Wall Street Journal. She took the opposite view I do here: she felt that “building the relation on trust” called for a woman in your circumstances to tell her interviewers. Within 48 hours of the column being published, she was bombarded with so many letters and emails to the contrary, she actually changed her mind.

I don’t deny that you might feel a bit guilty about this. And I don’t deny that there may be interviewers who later feel you should have told them of your circumstances. But I don’t believe that those feelings are important enough to warrant revealing personal, private, intimate, health and family information such as a pregnancy without good and proper reason, and those feelings are not good and proper reason to me.

By the way, congratulations on your “happiness.” In my mind, kids are the best part of life.

Thanks for writing. Please write and read some more.

Best, Al Sklover

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