The problem is becoming pretty clear.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by klmno, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I had a phone interview this morning for a job in my field, doing what I'm used to, and in a neighboring state. It was going fine and we were talkking about me coming for a face-to-face interview. Then he asked a question which led me to tell him my son had gotten into trouble and that's why I'd had to take a leave of absence last winter. Then the whole tone changed. This isn't the first time. I'm not sure how to avoid telling them.

    He told me he's going to send me some more info about his office and he's going out of town tomorrow and will contact me next week to discuss setting up an interview, but my gut tells me I won't hear from him again.

    I have to have a job where they are flexible with court/PO requirements but I don't think that's the problem. I think they are afraid I'd have to suddenly take a leave of absence again then they would be stuck without someone there to meet the deadlines. I've been telling interviewers why I took a leave of absence so they'd know it wasn't me getting fired or me in trouble, etc.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Can you not just say that you had to take a leave of absence from your previous job to deal with a family emergency? I believe if someone asked me why I left my old job that is what I would say. Something to the effect of...well I had a to take a leave of absence to deal with a family emergency and by the time I dealt with it, they had hired someone else. Or something to that effect. If they asked for more info, I would just say...oh the emergency is dealt with and all is well now. None of their business.

    THAT particular emergency has been dealt with!
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Hindsight is 20/20. It could well be that telling too much of the truth is harming your employment chances. I wouldn't mention your difficult child's issues period. As the other post says, there are ways to answer those questions truthfully without details. I would hate for you to scare of great employers that would value your skills and bring you back into the much needed job market, simply because you gave too much information. I hope that you do hear back from that employer though. I'm rooting for you!
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I think it would be a need to know......basis.

    When I used to be interviewed I would try to be honest, and upfront thinking I NEEDED to tell everyone, everything because eventually they would find out anyway right? Yeah....not really.

    When I got hired where I am now? I simply said "I may from time to time need some time off to deal with appointments for my son - he's a special needs kid." That seemed to be acceptable. In a bosses mind who would be such a crud to not give a Mom time to deal with Special Needs. When asked WHAT special needs I said "Nothing that should interfere with my work performance, just the occasional doctors appointment." I didn't again, give out much information.

    I was told in an boss' mind? If you say words like son/trouble/court/police/po/probation.....they equate that with you WHETHER they tell YOU that or not. They will of course be sympathetic to your face, but if you could be a fly on the wall at lunch with them and their buddies, it would be a different story. It would be "I interviewed this woman who told me all about her son and his problems and he's a felon and she wasn't even hired and I'm thinking JEEEZ if the kids a felon where did the Mom do time?" ---promise, cause I was in the next booth listening to that conversation.

    SO practice your interview skills, shorten your answers about your life and practice - get a routine and hone it so you have SPOT ON answers to give - almost like robotic answers. Be prepared. Not natural.

    Hope this helps.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I would lie. I would tell them that you were downsized. They'll understand that. It's none of their business and it's against the law for your former employer to tell them about it.
  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Yeah I think that's what's going on. I seem to do ok with everything else but need to deal with this issue like I did when I was pregnant and looking for a job- don't tell them until I have to. Actually, I told about being pregnant when the job was offered but not before and that worked well.

    The first time this issue came up was a few months with a headhunter and I told the problem was solved now because my son is incarcerated. The "incarcerated" part ended everything. This time I left out that part but knew it would come up later if I get the job because I'd have to take time off to come back and get difficult child at some point. Still, I need to work around telling people even as much as I did until things are further along.

    I'll email this guy and thank him for the phone interview and see if I can smooth something down in a round-about way. But I think it's probably too late.

    Lesson learned.
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    When I was out of work for 9 months because of severe depression and then was returning to the work force, I told them that I had to take time off to deal with pressing family issues. It didn't seem to turn anyone off.
  8. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I agree. I took a 9 YEAR hiatus from a career. I described it pretty similarly as others have said..."I stayed home due to family needs at that time" then was certain to mention casually that all was well now. I figured it was none of their business what was happening when it didn't impact them.

    I don't see any reason at all to bring your son's situation into any of the interviews. If need be, when the offer is being made and only if you won't have vacation time available, you can tell them that you will require a few unpaid days off in March (or May or whenever) because you've previously made a commitment that you have to honor. Period.

  9. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I agree. I wouldn't tell them anything more than you needed to and then if they asked what the "family matters" were it would be very tacky and probably illegal.

    Thing of it is, you could never prove that that's why you didn't get the job, even if you know darned well that it was! My daughter had the same thing the last time she was looking for a job. She's a nurse and a darned good one and has been one for 14 years, since she was 20. She has never applied for a job that she didn't get! She was unhappy where she was and was looking for another job when she found out she was pregnant. She interviewed for two different jobs and told both places that she was pregnant because she thought it was the right and honest thing to do - and she never heard from them again! The third interview was the job she really wanted. This time she kept her mouth shut about the pregnancy and she was hired on the spot! They learned soon enough because she pudged up very fast, but by that time they considered her a valuable employee and didn't want to lose her.
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I am with Suz.

    I have a 7 year period of time that I took for Matt. I have always explained it as Suz wrote.
    "I had pressing family needs that caused me to be based from home."
    Employers are weird, and they are waiting for anything to be a "red flag" in the interview. Saying anything, actually, about your "family problems" is considered a red flag. I would avoid even mentioning it unless specifically asked. And then, if asked, just state the above phrase.

    I also would not worry about trying to find time for parole meetings, etc. There will be time. You just have to get the job first. Then you can explain your need for time off a thousand ways. "I need to go to a wedding", or whatever. I rarely lie - but in my career I have fudged those types of things a lot to cover up what is going on with Matt. You have to, or else you will be judged and eliminated in quiet and subtle ways.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Ok, I'll think about this more before an interview in the future. difficult child and I both (he probably gets it from me) are bad about telling a lot more than we should or need to.

    Anyway, this man said he was going to send me some stuff about his firm and I assumed he meant via email but maybe he meant snail mail. It was supposed to be about office policy and bennies, I think. He has a website that tells about the type of work he does and he knew I'd already checked that out. I did email him a thank you this afternoon and added that I was very interested in pursuing the position and believed that I'd have no problem fulfilling the requirements now that my family issues were resolved. Of course, that too might work to confirm that they are resolved or might just serve as a reminder to him that there have been family problems, so who knows.

    He has two young teens- one is about difficult child's age he said. It could also be the tendency for parents of easy child's to just cringe and run if they hear about a kid in trouble.
  12. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    You snuck in on me, Steely. I can do that approach to a certain extent but in this profession people (all of them) do discuss family stuff and it's always been that way. And in that town where this guy is, chances are difficult child would be going to school with this guy's son so it would be unlikely that I could hide much. Chances are the people at school will know difficult child is on parole because PO's have to go to the school to see the kid every so often.
  13. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Finding out later about difficult child is always possible. However, it does not change the fact that it is and was a "pressing family matter". They don't need to know the details.

    There is so much ignorance about these things and he doesn't know you from Adam. Once you get your foot in the door, show them you're responsible, dependable and loyal employee they should be willing to accommodate you.

    And even at that point, I wouldn't go into details. "difficult child has been had some struggles", "difficult child made some poor choices and is working on getting on the right path", or some such thing is enough.

    I've been burned by giving out too much information - trying to be completely honest with my employers (after I was already employed and on good standing) because I felt it was the right thing to do. And it backfired every time. If I were doing it now, I would keep it short and not give details. I wouldn't outright lie, but everyone doesn't need to know everything, Know what I mean??
  14. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Yeah, Heather- that's the sort of stuff that went thru my mind after we got off the phone. I had prepared myself for just trying to get the job no matter what the pay and so forth but for somoe reason had forgotten all about planning a way to avoid difficult child issues. I'm kicking myself in the rear for it. It probably will boil down to how many resumes he got from people qualified to do what he's looking for. He knows I'm qualified and that I "get" what his needs for the office are. Maybe I'll get lucky and he really will get back with me next week to schedule a face-to-face interview. If he does, I'll sure plan better for that.

    But then as an after thought- on my cover letter that is sent with my resume, I explain that I took a leave of absence to deal with personal family matters. (That explains how I ended up unemployed because they ALL know this profession bottomed out by last spring.) And then all I said to him in that regard today was that my son had gotten into trouble and I had to take time to deal with it but it was all resolved now. I'm not so sure it would have mattered now that I think about it. Maybe they look at it like if it was a divorce, there wouldn't be a chance for a reoccurance.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  15. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think the advice of "family matter" is right on. I would, and this is speaking from an employer's point of view, never lie about it. One poster suggested saying your were downsized. As a prosepctive employer, he may call to verify employment, etc. If they said you took a leave and you say you were downsized, you would be out of the running in a heart beat. The truth, without details, is always the best way.

    Have a script in your mind for exactly what you are going to say should this come up again - but here's hoping it doesn't and you get the job!

  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It is illegal in the US for an employer to do or say ANYTHING about an employee other than to confirm the dates that he or she worked for the company. Even giving the reason why or how a person left the company is illegal.

    If your employer is giving out more information than that I can help you find the laws. You would then send a letter to your former employer demanding that they stop this. You could also file a lawsuit AND WIN easily.

    I learned this as a manager and again in several business law classes.

    You can be fired at any time if an employer learns you lied in an interview or on an application, so the truth is vital. Details, such as difficult child being a difficult child or in Department of Juvenile Justice or anything else, are not needed. Just give dates, and say the LOA was due to a now resolved family matter. It would be a good strategy to IMPLY that it could not happen again - as if it were a family member who has passed away. Don't SAY this, but state that it has been "permanently resolved" or something similar.

  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Never offer more information that is not specifically asked for. Never. And if you feel you must tell them something be vague and word it so it comes off in the best possible light. It's not lying, and honestly it is your personal life and not really any of their darn business.

    When I went back to work after the truck accident I hadn't worked in 8-9 years or more. This was a real put off I found out rather quickly. Employers thought I was leaving the gap because I'd been fired or something from somewhere else. So I told them the truth, that I was a stay at home Mom to tend to the needs of my disabled son who now was at a point where that was no longer necessary.

    I had no more issues and got hired quickly.

    Oh and FYI, beware of applications/interviewers asking questions as to personal hobbies and interests. This can also back fired on you. husband lost an awesome job opportunity this way. He listed an organization we belonged to, although I kept telling him it was none of the companies business. Turned out our organization happened to be having run-ins with the company due to environmental hazards. husband and I had nothing to do with that, but the company decided birds of a feather. ugh

    I still could smack husband upside the head everytime I think about it.
  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    All of the others give great advice about this. Do not lie, but only tell as much of the truth as you need to in order to answer the question. "Pressing family matter, now resolved" about covers it.

    In my work, I am often in the position of hiring others. In the current economic climate, we often receive over 1000 resumes for a single position, so HR has instructions to weed out as many people as possible before they even get to the hiring manager interview. If you give them any excuse to put you in the "do not pursue" pile, they will.

    Keep in mind what employers are looking for. Someone with all of the required qualifications, yes, but more importantly, someone whom they get along with, whom they feel positively about, and who fits in with the team and with the company. If you give them any reason to think negatively about you, then you may not make the cut.

    Try to smooth things over with this fellow, but practice an "elevator speech" about your family issues so that you won't be caught unprepared the next time.

    One thing you might want to do. Think about every question in this interview that made you stumble. Come up with something truthful, positive and confident to say, and then practice the response until you can say it smoothly. That way, the next time the question comes up, you'll know what to say without thinking about it, and you'll be less likely to blurt out information that the interviewer doesn't need to know.

  19. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Just want to ditto what everyone else said again. Like Trinity I am in the position of hiring many people as well, and in this economy, any thing can be a red flag to an employer. Anything.

    I have practiced my "my son has a few challenges - you know the normal teenage stuff" speech until I am blue. However, even that, I only tell if pressed - and by law - no one can press you on that in the interview. In addition, like Susie said, no one can ask specifics of your past employer.

    One last thing - even if you move there and they later find out that your son has problems and a PO - it will not matter - because you will already have the job. The key is selling yourself now - and worrying about the details later. Once you have the job, legally, there is nothing that can keep them from letting you go.