I returned to work from maternity leave two months ago. A job opening at my workplace came up, in the same department, at a higher pay grade, and a higher title. It is also a permanent job, something difficult to obtain in my field where most people (including myself) at my level are on fixed term or zero hours contracts. I met all the essential and desirable criteria and decided to apply. Two weeks later I was asked to attend an interview and had one week to prepare a presentation to a panel of three of my colleagues, including my head of department.
I organised childcare, worked into the night, breastfed while preparing, and worked with my son playing in my lap. It was really, really hard but I managed to prepare a good presentation and have two mock interviews with my mentors. During the interview I was met with what felt like bias from the head of department. They said things like, ‘why don’t you just renegotiate your current contract to include more activities this job role includes?’ and when I answered a question about where I see myself in 5 years I was told, ‘there’s no scope for any of those things in this role’ and I’m better suited where I am.
The questions and comments were based on my personal circumstance and would not have been asked of other candidates. Although these are all fair points, I don’t want to renegotiate my contract for more work without better pay, I want the job security this post offers because I have earned it, and my 5 year plan was all directed at specific goals the job description listed. I left the interview deflated, but knowing I had done my best and that I was still a strong candidate. I knew it came down to the other candidates. The next day the head of department phoned me to tell me another internal candidate got the job. They said they understand that I have a new family and that is why I want job security, but that I am better suited in my current role.
I respect their decision and with reflection agree that I am better suited to my current role. However, I would be more accepting if the candidate they selected had met the job criteria and had the skills and experience they requested for the role. But, this other candidate didn’t meet any of the essential criteria and very few of the desirable criteria; I know because I hired him, trained him, and acted as their line manager! I would also be more accepting if the head of department hadn’t brought up my family situation, or asked me to renegotiate my current contract to unfavourable conditions! It is ultimately up the department who they hire and the potential they see in people, however the institutional mechanisms that allowed someone that doesn’t meet the job criteria to be invited to an interview and score higher in the application process fails everybody and does not the meet equality, diversity, and inclusion principles my institution proudly displays on their website