On my very first telephone interview, the first question they asked me was, “Why do you want to work at this institution?” and the second was, “And how will you manage this position with your children?” I asked them how they knew about my children, and they told me that one of my referees had mentioned them in his letter.
I don’t know which of my referees it was, but since they were all from my dissertation committee he may have thought he was saying something complimentary about my ability to excel in my dissertation while simultaneously raising small children. Whatever he wrote, I didn’t get the job, although I don’t know if my family status had anything to do with it.
Referees — even if it’s well-intentioned, please don’t reveal a job candidate’s family status to a search committee because you don’t know how they will use that information!
(Submitted June 4, 2015)