Interview etiquette

linden higgins linden at
Fri Dec 19 16:40:05 EST 1997

>Although it is illegal to ask about marital status, etc., It is clear to
>me that some prospective employers know my marital status and that I
>have kids (presumably from letters of reference or from speaking to
>people who know me). If the prospective employer already knows, but not
>from the prospective employee, are there rules for what can and cannot
>be discussed?
In my (limited) experience, prospetive employers want to know, and usually
do find out - especially in academics (which despite the size of the
applicant pools still seems to be a small world).

What I've had happen is that someone in the faculty, usually someone I am
acquainted with or a friend of a friend, asks "unofficially" if my husband
is REALLY interested in moving (yes), and if we'd be willing to be
separated for x amount of time while something was arranged for him (yes).
Whether these things would really happen, I don't know, as I have yet to
have an offer.  However, I do not think that the lack of an offer has
ANYTHING to do with my marital status.

>It isn't a big deal to me- I am not trying to hide my kids or marital
>status-  but it bothers me that it came from another source....

I've finally given up on keeping these things secret.  My marital status is
mentioned in my cover letter ever since someone who knew my ex-major
professor inquired as to whether my application was to be taken seriously
(my spouse is tenured).  Now there is a sentence to the effect that I am
serious because he'd like to move.  Then, this year, when I was revising my
c.v., I noticed  that there was 12 months with neither funding nor
publications - I had a baby.  So, since both funding and publications have
started up again, and I'm proud of that, I decided to mention the child,
and her birth date, under the heading "family".  I'd appreciate some
thoughts on this from those who have "been there, done that".


Linden Higgins
Department of Zoology
University of Texas
Austin, TX  78712

telephone:  (512) 471-6905  FAX (512) 471-9651

linden at

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