Placement Consultancy
Hr & Od Consultant
Management Consulting, Management Development,
Dy Lab Comm, Pb (retd), Consultant And Qualified
Hiten Parekh
Hr - Pharmaceutical Industry
Regional Hr Head
Rtd. Group Vice President In Hr In Export
Hr Manager
Human Resources
R Sachdeva
Hr Manager
Resource Management
Manager Hr & Admn
Consultant - Strategic Hr
Human Resources
Hr Manager
+2 Others

Dear All,
I just wanted to share my experience with a MalaysianBPO in Bangalore.I had a telephonic interview with the concerned person for a position in the HR Department.The second question the lady asked me was-Are you planning to have kids soon beacuse I don't need the incumbent to take maternity leave now'. Remember, this is the second question after the interview started.
Again she asked me if i am planning to have kids in the coming year.I pointed out it is not in my hands to say when. When she pressed, I politely pointed out that it is an unethical question.
She scornfully said it is ethical and she knows it well because she is in the HR Field.
Please comment on this and let us have a meaningful discussion on this topic
Thanks and Regards
13th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
The Same case was presented a few months back.
It is purely Unethical about this question.....
The same can be avoided,,
If the company is of that much of manpower shortage,, let them hire more people,,, why do like this,,,,,
I suppose all employees in that company should be either Bachelors or Forced Bachelors....
Better you did not get that OFFER,,,
13th December 2007 From India, Coimbatore
She is concerned if you are going to be on long leave just after joining.
Sometimes it becomes necessary. Supposing you are appointing a person for a responsible post where you hav esharp deadlines, it becomes important to know as the maternity leave is from 3 to 6 months.
May be she should have put it in a different way. There is nothing unethical I feel.
13th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
Ofcourse I agree with you Jayasree, according to the situations she might have asked but the way she put the question may be wrong and she cant say that she is a HR and she can ask anything
but to conclude this, yes there is nothing as such it is unethical or ethical, it was a part of the discussions to meet some of the criteria and she would have clearly told you before asking this type of questions
- Mirza
13th December 2007 From Saudi Arabia, Jiddah
In the process of career one should not lose family values.
it is ok to ask the marriage plans when hiring a fresher or a lady.but not plans for intending to have kids.
it is gods blessings to have kids.
i feel there should not be ambiguity in questions during the interview. im shocked the way recruiters treat the applicants.
13th December 2007 From United Arab Emirates, Dubai
Dear Rose
Though outwardly, the question seeks to be irrelevant.
But, if you go so deep in to the aspect, the interviewer wants to know your future planning of continuing with them. And also, she wants to guess how much weightage you are giving to others etc.
Nothing to think wrong about the question she has asked you, but it is tactfully answered and you could have diverted the topic.
13th December 2007 From India, Madras
Dear all,

I understand the sentiments that you have but we need to look at it in a more professional manner. How can we determine whether or not the question is Ethical or Unethical. There is no law as such to prevent such questions. Its completely a companys call whether or not they want to hire people who are planning kids. I have seen a couple of instances where ladies(no offences meant for the feminine gender) join a particular organization, and by the time the training is over and they sort of get a hang of the job they apply for a maternity leave. Also at times due to family pressure they arent able to get back to work for the next 1/2 years. Same is applicable for students. We need to look at this problem from an employers point of view. An employer spends so much in Hiring, Training and developing an employee and after all that if the employee goes on a leave there is no assurity that the employee will return.

As for the HR lady saying that she is from HR Field and knows that the question is unethical. I feel she is right. As I mentioned above, there is no law that prevents such questions. If the employer is desperate to hire people we must also remember that people are desperate to get good jobs.

P.S. This reply is my personal opininion and I dont mean to hurt anyones sentiments.
13th December 2007 From India, Mumbai
Hi Jaspal,
Agree with you that the question is relevant. But you need not bring in law here. We in HR are dealing with People and how best we can motivate them to be more productive. So we just need to frame our questions in a such a way that no one feels offended or think What type of Company it is. We are representing a company and so ethics are important.
13th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
I am shocked to know some #*$#U$ HR do this, and many HR here support the unethical question asked.
If the (#$U($*# HR thinks the question was ethical, and valid and a prerequisite for the job.
Then why not the hell, she did not post in the Job description itself, only candidates who are not planning to have kids in the next two years are eligible to apply.
These HR's of BPO,, are like this only, they dont have any knowledge and do whatever their foreign client ask them to do. , hence BPO employees are also referred as cyber coolies. because of the work they do. SHAME SHAME on HR, that we have such HR .
You better forget the interview experience and look for a good job, not in a BPO.
13th December 2007 From India, Pune
Thanks a lot all you guys for coming up with your comments on the topic. I too feel it's ok, if it is asked in the middle of the interview or towards the end of it, that too in a more diplomatic manner. Being a woman, I have always made it a point that all these years I have never asked a candidate if she will soon be having kids. We can guess it if the person is married.
Perhaps, it can be put in the way my previous employer asked this question to me. She asked' I know I will be sued if I am asking this question in the US, but would you mind telling me if you will give the same importance to your career after having kids'
I found that to be completely acceptable.My point in bringing up the topic is that we, as HR people, need to be more professional in the way we conduct interviews.
With the comments that we have on this topic, I am sure all of us will keep this instance in mind while interviewing candidates
Warm Regards
13th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
Hey Jayshree,
How can you bring a law like that. Even if you do bring a law you are not thinking from an employers perspective. Ok answer this. You screen a lot of people and then hire a candidate. You train her. You groom her according to your companys needs. When finally its time to expect results from that employee, He/she walks upto you with a leave application. Now I would like to know what happens if the candidate does not return. Also the maternity leave (or study leave which can be from a month to 3 months) affects the performance of that particular function.
All I am trying to say is that let us not look at only one aspect of the story.
13th December 2007 From India, Mumbai
I agree with Jayashree, and to add with, she should have been explained the candidate, why she is asking the question. Ravinder
14th December 2007 From India, Mumbai
Yes, I agree the HR-should have asked the question using proper words.
By the way one should also appreciate the HR Lady having come with that question. I have experienced this in my previous employment - for not asking this question to the Lady in my dept, after imparting the necessary knowledge and skills, she had to go on leave. I was helpless and also could not stop it.
Putting forth this question cannot become unethical. What can become unethical is, "The HR lady did not compel to you join and also not to have any kids". May be you can pardon her for not using appropriate words.
Leave it at that, instead of carrying it in your mind for days & months.
TRLakshmi Narayanan
14th December 2007
gone through the comments
i think so that the interviewer was less tactful . Its better for both the parties to be clear in their demands right in the beginning and set right expectations. Its in fact good that the interviewer was open in job requirement , as you can guess that company may not be female- friendly . So nothing to feel bad , take it as a wrong note on which interviewer started.
14th December 2007 From India
what is so unethical about it? It is a straight proffessional question. As a HR person she was just seeing the organizational goal. People plz grow up.
14th December 2007 From India
Hi Prashanth, I really loved your comment... "People grow up". Its high time we have grown up people. jayashree
14th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
Rose, I suppose that you need to look at these things from a less sensitive viewpoint.
Work places are high-pressure pots and are deadline driven, especially the BPO/KPO/IT sectors. Many people do not believe in beating around the bush and come straight to the point. You need not be sensitive about such things. You cannot question the interviewer's right to ask questions that might affect the work-and a 3 to 6 month leave span definitely affects the work schedules.
I agree that the interviewer could have done this more tactfully. though.
14th December 2007 From United Kingdom
There is nothing unethical about it. The question has to be put in the right perspective. Even putting the right question and all these precautions, I had seen female employees after enjoying the maternity benefits from the company come and give the resignation letter, within 1month of joining.
14th December 2007
There is no doubt about that it was ourly unethical. I think she has not a good interviewer.. She has to know and follow the leagal aspects like metenity act and other things.
Pls don't take such type of offers.
14th December 2007 From India, Hyderabad
hello rose
the question asked to u was 'really unethically'......
no where in the world nobody ask unlawful questions
"may be the company wants only bachelors who can work during shifts"
so please do avoid to such offers....
praveen kumar
14th December 2007 From India, Hyderabad
to come to point if the companies are so worried about female employee going on maternity leaves, they why dont they recruit only male for their jobs.
This is a joke or what.
Tomorrow they may even ask, when you are getting married, how many kids you plan to have, when you plan to have first kid, how many leaves will you take for marriage.
Taking leaves cannot be prevented, if some emergency happens then employees may be absent for more than a month, at such time company needs to be with employee and support the employee rather than withdrawing their support for such things.
14th December 2007 From India, Pune
Hello Everyone...
I just went through the rather heated discussion regarding the ethics behind that question. Would just like to add that although i feel its ok to ask such a question towards the end of an interview, it was definitly inappropriate as a second question.
Besides, its an important question bcoz my org. is also facing such an issue. A recent hire who joined us 3-4 months back in a crucial HR function has gone on maternity leave for 6 months during a time when her workload wud be maximum, which i feel leaves the org. back to square one. As it is, its difficult to retain and attract ppl so orgs. definitly need to keep such things in mind while recruiting.
However, as HR we need to be well conversed in the art of tactful interviwing. I think its a basic pre-requisite.
14th December 2007 From India, Mumbai
Hi Rose,
There is nothing unethical about this question, it's only that it was asked too early. Some companies while hiring female staff are very careful because afterall they invest in trainings and it takes time to familiarize the staff with company environment, so to be on the safe side sometimes questions like these arises.
And remember before accepting any offer the ball is in your court, so chill and don't think too much about it.
Fahd Khan Sherani
14th December 2007 From Pakistan, Karachi
Hi Rose,
The question asked is Unethical,
What is the meaning of are you planning to have Kids,
It is a Personal question & any one who ever it might be,
Should not peep into personal lives of others.
14th December 2007 From India, Hyderabad
Had you been in US, you could have sued that lady for millions of dollars. :D :D
It is unethical to ask any question which intrudes the privacy of a candidate or even any question related to race, age or religion.
So, just chill.
14th December 2007 From India, Mumbai
what should i say..
i have been demoted from my job.. (and probably forced to quit)
the reason being i m pregnant....
no, no.. they didn't mention that as the reason for the demotion, they mentioned it was due to my inability to complete certain tasks..(which... u know... )
anyway, just a diversion from the atcual topic, but it was really shocking and it hurt when this decision was told to me...
wish me luck.
14th December 2007 From India, Delhi
what type of industry do you work, im interested to get more details if you wish. I would like to get more information. Kindly do PM me.
14th December 2007 From India, Pune
In life there are no absolutes.
The culture of different countries/organizations determines what is ethical or unethical. They reflect its values. You see it could be important to them to know the answer for clarity if there is some important time bound project/initiative.
We in India should be fairly comfortable in answering such questions.
Yes, it is an awkward question.
Sunil Chandra
14th December 2007 From India, Gurgaon
Hey Rose,
I know its a sad state of affairs with our HR, quite a few times I have come across such people who cant even frame the right question,in the right manner. Or are not competent enough to judge you. but then the question in your case was just not framed right. thats all.
From the company's point of view, yes they do invest a lot in you, only to go through the whole process once again in a few months time.
Thanks to the high attrition rate.
It depends a lot on the right person interviewing you, if you are fortunate, that is...
:!: :)
15th December 2007 From India, Mumbai
Dear Prabha Please let me know what type of industry you are working and let me have the details to enable me to help you, if possible. Regards L.Kumar
15th December 2007 From India, Madras
I found it rather funny when i read many of the postings on the topic here..
yes i agree, the HR is question did not frame the question well, but even I ask this question to all lady candidates... in most industries today, we just dont have the cushion of asking people to join and go on a paid maternity leave within 3-6 months...
what makes the comments "funny" is the line of thought that kids are still God's blessings... hello.. in the SEC A segments (where our BPO execs belong), GOD doesn't give children.. kids happen because you decide to have one.. as a counsellor.. i ask many a patient if they are financially ready for a child, if they are emotionally ready for a child, if they are infrastucturally ready for a child... etc.
come out of this bourgeois mentality.. if you are going to take a job just to go into a maternity leave in 6 months time - it is YOU who is being unethical by not disclosing the intent at the time of interview..
15th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
THIS is unethical and illegal too... Prabha, if you can reasonably prove that your demotion was due to your pregnancy status and not based on your work... pls go ahead and take your company head on.. you can even consider legal action..
as for wishing you luck.. wish you all the luck in life and motherhood! God be with you.
15th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
Hi Rose,
I agree with jaspalsingh, we should also think from employer side.
I think the lady who interviewed you took the interview in professional manner, don't take it personal, but she should have asked you in an indirect way.
15th December 2007
Hi Prabha, Its really unethical to do such things. If you can prove it we can eradicate such things to not to repeat.
15th December 2007
Dear Rose,
The question is very much ethical and genuine.
You may feel hurt.. but please put yourself in the employer's shoe, then you will know the purpose of that question.
Suppose you recruit somebody for a crucial position and immediatley after joining, she asks for a maternity leave... just imagine what will be your reaction.
Don't bring sex here. Even the candidate is a male and if I see any chance of him taking a leave ( due to exams, marriage, etc. ).. I am sure I am not going to recruit him.
So... all is well here. Be professional, don't exagerate the situation and please don't give the issue a sexist angle.
15th December 2007 From India, Chennai
Dear Rose,
According to me it's not Unethical question,Why ? Must be they are looking candidate(Female) who would be regular without leaves,See company's concerns with female specially when they would have children then they should have for 3.-6 months time(Maternity leave), where company have to look for subsitute,And thats why they are concerned at prehiring stage.
15th December 2007
Wow! I am amazed at the different points of view on this question. The reality is that employers have to make the choice on who they consider will advance their business objectives with minimal interruptions and/or costs.

I'm thinking how I would have approached the issue. Let's see:

What are the factors in your family that are likely to impact on your work performance over the next year or so?

Can you tell me what are some of your personal and/or family goals and their how they fit it with your career goals.

Explain your expectations of our company on work/family balance

I think it goes oe say that tact is a key factor to HR practitoners - the same question can be construed as ethical or unethical depending on how it is put across.

I have a HR friend who now has the uphill task to regain the trust of her management team after she failed to disclose she was pregnant at the time she was being hired and had to take her leave less than a year after she got hired. In my experience I have had to deal with issues related to handling employees HIV/AIDs status - and it can get seedy if you do not make it clear that your concern is more about performance than stigmatizing or discriminating an employee.

15th December 2007 From Kenya
Ya it is unethical to have a question like this in the interview but when a HR person is taking ur interview may be a male or female they can ask any questions. It is not important that they ask u questions related to ur profile they can ask anything. The main thing is that they are checking ur stress level. How much u can jhelo the stress. n how u r replying the answer. I can share with u one incident where to a student the HR pannel ask a question that i have heard that ur mother is a postitude. If any one heard this then all of us better understand the situstion or what the candidate feels. And the reply by the candidate was : If u heard that my mother is a postitude then the only a customer is my father. So by listening this we are mentally prepare that any thing can be asked the matter is how we reply. So plz be mentally prepared for the interview.
15th December 2007 From India, Bhopal
Hi Rose,
I went through a similar experience sometime back, I went for an Interview at Alps Management Consultants and it was the most horrific experience I had till date. The HR was a male and he kept asking me the same question over and over again, he asked when I am planning to get married and when I was planning to have kids. He kept pressurizing me to answer that question. I was 23 then. He even went a step further to bitch about all the female employees, according to him, female employees can only perform till they don't get married after that they lose focus. I could not stand that and I left halway through.
15th December 2007 From India, New Delhi
So now I got to learn one thing, if you are married, planning to get married, have kids, etc. Do but fake your HR about it. And after 3-4 months of joining when the HR resists you taking leave for 3-4 months, threaten the HR both inside company with legal action against harassment for maternity leave, and outside the company @#@$% the HR, and @#$#$$$.
Then may be these HR will learn a lesson.
15th December 2007 From India, Pune
Well every position has certain requirements and constraints....i think they need to informed much ahead of the interview process so that both the parties involved can decided to go ahead or not with the laid conditions for the concerned position, thats saves time and avoids such kind of situation which is not appreciated by anyone.
S Kumar.
15th December 2007
I do not know what sort of discrimination laws you have in India, but here in Australia, asking such a question is illegal. Similarly, interviewers may not ask questions about religious affiliations, sexual orientation, marital status, medical history, living arrangements etc. None of those things have any bearing on whether a person can do the job as specified in the job description.

When a professional HR person interviews a candidate for a job, they seek to find out if the person has the skills, knowledge and experience to fulfill the duties competently.

Sadly, merely having laws does not prevent it happening. Unscrupulous employers will ask these questions knowing full well that you cannot do much about it if you need the job or lack the resources to take legal action. The problem being of course the ability to prove a case. Usually there are no witnesses when the illegal question is asked and the interviewer will deny having asked the question.

Saying that the company needs to ensure the person will stay merely to protect the investment in recruiting and training the new person is not a satisfactory defence for such an offensive and irrelevant question.

I would hope that our members here are far more professional and mindful of our obligations to treat ALL people fairly and judge them only on the skills and abilities they bring to our organisations.
16th December 2007 From Australia, Melbourne
Hi there,

Its good point have been raised in this forum........I feel that it should be asked in diplomatic manner once the candidate is comfortable after few minutes of healthy conversation........It might happen that the Interviewer would having the target of interviewing so many candidates in days and hence he/she is asking such questions in first while where as such question should be asked at the end after explaining the urgency and importance of the his/her role in the organization. I m sure that all the HR professionals are asking long term stabilty questions to all prospective candidates. It make sure that selected employee is not going to take long leave within a year.........

It seems that HR are too much pressurised that they are skipping their main core skill set creating comfortable environment for people as well as listening to them.

I believe there is no harm asking such question while interviewing but with proper manner. Now a day, there are ample of cases you may come across in the corporate world that Employer is hiring external agency to get very minute minute details about either existing employee or prospective employee.

Thanks & Regards,

16th December 2007 From Singapore, Singapore

here all suggested that the question is relevant but asked in an irrelevant manner. OK fine

many suggested first to make the candidate comfortable and then ask the question.

But what I mean to convey is that, IS THERE IS A NEED TO ASK THE CANDIDATE PERSONALLY.

An application form of company can be designed and the question can be included with education, experience and other details. In personal details

the sex, age, maritial status can be asked from candidate.

But asking about kids is too over and not needed at all for the HR. The HR here need not be so loyal to company like a dog. They need to have common sense, which they are lacking here in India, almost all who said that you need to see from employer point of view.

Here the senseless HR are expecting that the female employees should not take the maternity leave or other leaves etc. OK

But if I give u a situation what can you about it.

Just think if u have any brain and reply to me.

You interview an unmarried female candidate, and train her for about 3-4 months, during these 3-4 her parents or herself fix marriage, and after 4 months her marriage is fixed, now I guarantee atleast she will go on marriage leave for a month, which would mean loss for the company, if u hesitate to give leave she will kick ur job and go as at that time marriage would be on priority rather than job, so ultimately u have to give her one months leave, then again after marriage in about 2-3 months her husband is shifting to abroad, or some other place, and she will give resignation and go, or other case within a year she may apply for maternity leave, which again would mean you loyal HR crying over loss of company work.

So ultimately there is loss of company of training her and paying her for whatever time she worked.

But why the hell you look at it as a loss, she worked for the period she was paid. And its none of your business to poke into personal matters of employees.

And many think that girls have a flair to join company and take maternity leaves????????

Think from a different angle.

Dont know what will happen if the HR keeps asking something foolish and still term it as ethical
16th December 2007 From India, Pune
I Agree with Jaysree's opinion that it is a must for a recruiter to know the importance of the tenure of the new hired person after a lot of struggles. The process of recruitment became so tough that even a recruiter miss a part of a day the offered candidates may get to different options.
One thing is sure that the interviewer should have asked with a little of fun to avoid dissappointment by the candidate.
The candidates should be ready for taking and accepting more bold & straight forward Q's considering the current employment situations in India.
Rajan 8)
16th December 2007 From India, Bangalore
I agree with Ravi !
About prediction for the future of candidates, why dont the ask 'How many times you are planning to get sick?', How many relatives of yours are likely to get married in next 6 months?, What are the probabilities of your meeting with an accident?
The interviewer is free to have the candidate undergo medical examination prior to employment offer to see if she is pregnent. He can judge from the age and family histry (mentioned in the application form) about her likelyhood of getting pregnent. He may decide based on report and judgement about hiring her. But there is no point in asking and offending her.
I have seen these flashy HRs in BPO thinking they are god. I have experienced them asking questions like 'How did your father die?' 'Are you planning to seperate from your joint family?'
I think there has to be more professionalism amongst HR as well. Many a things are not taught in best of Bschools. That is known as common sense.
- Hiten

16th December 2007 From India, New Delhi
Its all about sentiments of a person specialy a specfic gender, but guys just understand putting your self in the same situation, you are running a small company of 3 people and all the team mebers are female for example and unexpectedly 2 employees have taken maternity leave. I am sure business will go for toss...same situation works in big organizations as their teams functions as a small business where contribuation of each team member is must and keeping this in mind either company will look out for male employees or without gender bias they will invistiagate personal side of prospective employee, where family planning and other softer issues comes in the picture....

its absolutely base less but business is like war front where no one likes to see there soilder weak at any front mind it guys its not an charitable organization its a business and profit making insituation... respect the stake holders hard earn money which gives you emplyment and earning...

hopes this answer your doubt..
16th December 2007 From India, Delhi
As discussed by some other experienced professionals on the site, i d not think the question put forth to you had anything to do wiht ethics or no ethics. It was purely a concern for her because she might have had cases like this in th past and she wants to ensure that it doesn't repeat itself.
Yes, it could have been put in a better way. which she did not quite realise herself.
These things should not be of any concern to you, and one need not get emotional about such things. You have to look at a bigger perspective in life and not such miniscule things which will not get you anywhere.
Ultimately it's upto you what you think and whether you want to go ahead with this or no.
16th December 2007
Unethical and Illegal... no doubt in that....
You just cannot frame such kind of question... we are HR for gods sake... we are not filling the blanks...
If i had some bad exp in past, it doesnt mean that i start asking these kind of questions. It would just show my incompetency for this job... We are HR, and we are the best when it comes to playing with words... there are 100 ways to frame this question or put some point ahead...
India,US, UK, Aus, Canada... almost all countries except some 3rd world countries follow equal employment opportunity...
How ever... there is nothing wrong is informing the candidate earlier to interview about the do's and dont's of the job....
Cheers and have fun...
17th December 2007 From India, Hyderabad
It is unethical no doubt. the company may have 1001 reasons to justify themselves, but they are hiring humans and not machines. to get a job we can not force ourselves to our personal values. I dont think anyone should be justifying the question. Things are gettign too commercial these days and these Recruiters are forced to ask such questions. but the person concerned should have soem common sense to decide which question to ask and which to avoid. sounds really ABSURD!!
17th December 2007 From India, Bangalore

Add Reply Start A New Discussion

Cite.Co - is a repository of information created by your industry peers and experienced seniors. Register Here and help by adding your inputs to this topic/query page.
Prime Sponsor: TALENTEDGE - Certification Courses for career growth from top institutes like IIM / XLRI direct to device (online digital learning)

About Us Advertise Contact Us
Privacy Policy Disclaimer Terms Of Service

All rights reserved @ 2019 Cite.Co™