When I’m conducting an interview, there are few things I always want to happen. I want the person to become comfortable enough with me to open up, and I want to learn something new. One thing that always helps move that along is when the subject and I have a shared interest. It doesn’t have to be anything major; just a common ground to help develop a bond.
Maybe we’re both New Jersey natives (like Linda Reed). Maybe we root for the same teams (Cara Babachicos). Maybe we both have twins (Anna Turman and Chris Walden). Maybe we both like to take challenging exercise classes (Tressa Springmann).
Or maybe we were both in the unique position of accepting a coveted job … while pregnant. During a recent podcast session with Kristin Darby, I learned that she walked the same bizarre road I did. While interviewing for the CIO role at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Darby — who at that point had a two-year-old son — found out she was expecting. Understandably, she did some soul-searching and started reconsidering whether relocating from Boston to Arizona was the right move for her and her family. But when she brought it up to her possible employers, the response surprised her — in a good way. “I talked to them about it and what we decided is if it was the right fit, it’s not going to matter that I’m pregnant. If it’s not the right fit, let’s just let that happen naturally, which seemed fair to me,” she said.
The move has worked out well, for both parties.
Here’s the part I can truly relate to. Before she even set foot in the facility, Darby knew that CTCA offered a supportive environment. And that made all the difference.
Three and a half years ago, I was in a similar situation. I had already accepted the position of Managing Editor at healthsystemCIO.com — a job that was years in the making — when I found out that I was taking on another very important job: motherhood.
I remember it all so clearly. I had planned to give notice at my current job in December of 2011 and start working with Anthony in January. We had signed the paperwork in October, which meant I simply had to ride out the last few months. Sounds simple, right? It would’ve been, except that the workplace culture had eroded to the point where no one wanted to be there — especially me.
And so when I found out we were expecting, it occurred to me that I might be stuck there. I mean, it would be perfectly understandable if Anthony decided to go in another direction. And if that happened after I had already given notice, I’d be unemployed — which is slightly worse than being at a miserable job.
I had two options. I could hide my ‘inside information’ until January, then reveal it once I officially started. This way, Anthony would have to keep me on, right? Right, said my friend, a longtime HR rep. When I told her that felt a bit dishonest, she reminded me that I had to look out for myself — and my baby (or, as it turned out, babies) — first. But although her viewpoint was valid, it was also tainted by the fact that she had only worked for large corporations. This was no large corporation, I explained. It was a company started by a valued friend and colleague, and the position was being offered to me alone.
So I decided on the second option: full disclosure. I drafted an email to Anthony, revised it about 31 times, then held my breath and hit send. For the next 11 minutes, I paced the halls of my office, running through the various doomsday scenario responses in my head:
“Um, that’s great, but I’m afraid I’ll have to rescind the offer. Good luck!”
“Sorry, turns out I just hired someone else yesterday…”
Yes, my imagination can run a bit wild. But when I saw the reply, I breathed a long sigh of relief. It conveyed everything I hoped it would and more. Not only was my job safe, but Anthony was genuinely happy for me and Dan. Before I even started, I knew I had made the right choice. I knew I had support.
For Kristin Darby, being a mother has made her more engaged with her work, more productive, and more balanced overall. I’ve also found this to be true, and I attribute much of that to being at the right organization, on the right team. I believe there’s no greater motivation than when someone has faith in you and is willing to bet that when it’s all said and done, you’re the right fit.