The question that can stop a job interview dead.

It has been almost impossible to find work…

Dear Mamamia

I’m 34, female, married and childless.

I am a former professional from the mining industry.

And I cannot get a job.

It has been almost impossible to find work, not only in my field (when there have been positions advertised) but anywhere, here at my new home on the Sunshine Coast. I have applied for work at supermarkets and banks and, well, anywhere really.

I wasn’t even getting to the job interview stage. I was told that I haven’t been given work because I can’t handle certain things, and the other candidate was given the role because ‘he’ had more experience in a certain field. Rejection after rejection, I never gave up. I still applied for job, after job, after job.

Finally I was asked for a job interview. It went well.

I was then asked back to meet the director of the company, who was a very pleasant man, although a little distant and vague. During the job interview he asked me, “Do you have children?” I said, “No, no I don’t. I have dogs!”

He then went onto ask me, “Are you planning on having children?”

This question, to be honest, really shocked me. What if I say yes? I won’t get the job. That’s how he made me feel.

But what if I say no? And then I have children later? Would I get sacked? Is it even his business?

The thing is, I married a man who is wonderful but we cannot conceive naturally.And as I haven’t been able to get work, this has eaten into our savings and we cannot afford IVF treatment. So really this was a subject I didn’t want to talk about with someone I didn’t know…

So I said, ‘Well actually, I was unwell a few years ago and there is a good chance that I won’t be able to have children!’ (There is an element of truth to that. I have had cervical issues and surgery and I have to have more tests in a few months!)

I suppose the reason I said this was for this guy to put his manners back in and to learn to never ask a woman a question like this again. It did make him apologise and sit up and listen to me.

And then I was offered the job… and I said yes.

But I’m still bothered. Why is it even appropriate for someone to ask this during a job interview?

I don’t believe it is. I was so disappointed, and then became a little emotional. So even though I got into a man’s world in mining which I loved, did I only get there because I was seen as a low-risk woman who wasn’t going to go off an have babies?

What would you say if asked this question in a job interview? What advice would you give to other women who are going for interviews who may face the same questions? Would you have taken the job, if offered?