Make every hiring decision count with our 2023 Source of Hire Report. Download (for FREE) now!

May 3, 2021

How to Lead the Type of Interview Working Moms Can Appreciate

woman dressed in a suit with a baby in a carrier on her back

Life for working moms is harder than ever—and interviews shouldn’t add to their stress. 

But since Covid hit, the challenges facing moms in the workplace have skyrocketed, with 32% of the 4.6M female US workers who have been unemployed since January 2020 attributing their lack of employment to child care issues. And it’s not just job losses that have affected mothers: 69% have experienced adverse health effects due to pandemic-induced stress, compared with 51% of fathers. 

For employers, the challenge is on: support working moms and help them thrive in their roles—starting (but by no means ending) with the job interview.

Supporting working moms means building flexibility, benefits, and understanding into the hiring process. Here’s why making life easier for these unsung heroes is good for your employees and your business: 

So, what does it take to attract and hire working moms? How can you make sure your interview process fits into their busy lives? And how do you keep hold of great talent when you find it? 

In this salute to society’s driving force, we’ll delve into what it really takes to create a memorable hiring process working moms will love. 

Mom job interviews: Hire working moms the right way

If you’re not a working mom yourself, navigating an interview with one may feel like a fine balancing act—you need to be empathetic and show them that you truly understand their needs, but also be respectful and treat them just like you would any other candidate.

Ready to hire working moms the right way?

Let’s break it down:

Before the interview

  • Be clear you’re open to applications from working moms: Reentering the workplace is scary, so make it easier for working moms by being clear that your company is reentering mom-friendly. Include parent-friendly benefits in your perks packages and job descriptions, and add a statement on your website explicitly saying you’re open to people reentering the workforce.
  • Let working moms know you’re open to the conversation: Show working moms you have their backs by sending pre-interview tips to help them on their way. Think: how to answer interview questions after going back to work from being a stay at home mom, or how to ask about work life balance in an interview. Your candidate will be more prepared which means a better interview for them and for you.
  • Choose your language carefully: Be aware of discriminatory language and make sure your job descriptions are as inclusive as possible. Keep it jargon free, balance masculine and feminine words, and put yourself in your candidate’s shoes when writing job descriptions. Working moms may not always feel like “rockstars” or “ninjas”, but they can absolutely slay the right role.

During the interview

  • Read between the lines: If you find yourself with a candidate who’s spent the last few months (or even years) looking after their children at home, they might not have many working experiences to reference. Be clear that you’re open to examples from their home life as well as work, and keep an ear out for those all-important transferable skills. 
  • Offer flexible interviews: Gone are the days of strict interview times and locations. Let candidates choose their own interview time and place for ultimate flexibility. (Psst! With Breezy’s video interviews and self-scheduling, you can give candidates full control over the when and how of the interview). 
  • Get interview-ready: It’s not just the candidate who needs to prep for interviews—you and your hiring managers do too. Check out our interview lowdown in the All-in-one Guide to Your Best Interview Process Yet.
  • Be human: No matter who your candidate is (or whether they have children), remember they’re a person too—so treat them fairly and focus on dropping the bias. Your candidate is here for the job, so focus on questions about the job rather than their home situation. 

The top 5 working mom interview questions

Congrats! You’ve got an awesome line-up of candidates ready and eager to interview. 🙌🏻

Now it’s time to show you get their needs by asking the right questions and listening for the right answers. 

Here are some of the top questions to ask:

  • What do you need from us to make working from home easier?
  • What sort of flexibility options are you looking for?
  • What’s been your proudest achievement at work or at home?
  • What are the strongest skills you’ve developed either at work or at home?
  • Do you have any questions for us?

5 working mom interview questions NOT to ask

We know you’d never ask questions like this, but we have to point out the ones you should never ask (surprisingly, these come up way too often 🙄). 

Here are a few questions that turn candidates off and show companies to be 100% not worth working for:

  • Do you really think you can handle this job with your parental responsibilities?
  • How do you juggle work with your children?
  • Wouldn’t your kids be better off if you didn’t work?
  • Do you ever get distracted by your children when you’re supposed to be working?
  • Why don’t you quit working?

5 illegal working mom interview questions 

It gets worse. Beyond the questions you shouldn’t ask, there are also some interview questions that are actually illegal to ask. 

Here are the questions never to ask female candidates:

  • Do you have children?
  • When do you plan to have children?
  • Who will take care of your children when you’re at work?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant?

How to retain working moms no matter what

Once you’ve got some great new hires on board, you won’t want to lose them—but truly supporting working moms takes some truly supportive actions.

With 83% of women saying they’d leave a current company for a more supportive organization, this is one step not to miss.

Here’s how to support working moms so they stick around for the long term:

  • Know your workforce and define your demographics: To create a retention program that actually works, you need to know your demographics. Which departments have the most working moms? How many leadership roles are filled by working moms? What do your working mom retention rates look like right now? What stage of parenthood are your employees at? Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll be in a better position to offer the right benefits at the right stage.
  • Focus policies on times of transition: From the moment you take that pregnancy test to when your kids finally fly the nest, being a mom is full of monumental milestones. Take note of these moments and build your policies around them to give working moms full support when they need it most. For example, you could offer new moms a phased-return package, so they can re-enter their role at a pace that works for them.
  • Offer extra support to working moms: Think: breast milk refrigeration and quiet breast-feeding areas for new mothers, or a mentorship program that connects new or expecting moms with working moms in leadership. 
  • Build better benefits for working moms: From flexible working to child care support, there are a ton of benefits you can offer to make life easier for working moms and support them in their jobs. Here are a few to get you started: Paid maternity leave, Child care financial support , Flexible roles, On-site nurseries, Dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs), and Paid child care leave
  • Clear communication: Motherhood has a million and one constantly changing demands. Keep communication open with working moms so you can support them with what they need today. Make sure they know their benefits, offer a parental leave handbook, and create communication channels between working moms within the company for extra support.
  • Track your progress: Measure how effective your programs are by tracking key metrics (like the number of working moms, the retention of working moms, etc.), and by gathering feedback from employees.  

Show working moms your support this Mother’s Day

Working moms come with a million and one unique skills, from being awesome multitaskers to having killer communication skills and the patience of a saint (moms, you know it’s true 😉).

In other words, these are the heroes you need in your teams.

But to attract working moms and create job opportunities that work for them, you need to focus on specific, tangible actions like flexible work options, child care support, and asking the right interview questions. 

With the right tools and an understanding of what working moms actually need, you’ll have a super productive and dedicated team in no time.