A reader writes:
I’m curious whether you think it’s ever okay to mention that you have “mommy brain” as a sort of disclaimer to an interviewer. I ask this because I am a new mom (five months postpartum), and I noticed that since I’ve gotten pregnant and especially since I’ve had my baby, I feel less mentally “sharp.” There are often times when I don’t speak as clearly or as concisely as I used to and I often forget words — sometimes right in the middle of a sentence — and when that happens, I kind of blank out and it’s a bit hard for me to recover, especially in the middle of an interview.
I had an interview in November where I feel I was off my game and definitely not the same sharp, charming candidate I was prior to getting pregnant or having a baby. I haven’t heard from the employer yet, which I know can be totally unrelated to my performance in the interview, but I do wonder if my general mental fogginess negatively impacted me for that role.
There have been scientific studies which suggest that women’s brain chemistry does in fact become impacted by pregnancy, and the brains of women lose about 8% of their mass while pregnant, with unknown cognitive impacts. So “mommy brain” is likely not some dismissable misogynistic stereotype but a biological reality for many, and I feel I am experiencing that at the worst time for me career-wise!
So, do you think its ever okay to mention “mommy brain” to an interviewer? And if so, how?
Nooooo, do not do that!
It’s possible that you’ll have an interviewer who’s sympathetic, but it’s very, very likely that you’ll instead (a) highlight the mistakes, (b) make your interviewer think that you’re bringing motherhood into a business situation in an inappropriate way, and (c) make them wonder if you’re ready to come back to work. Fairly or unfairly, at a minimum it will make many interviewers uncomfortable and at worst will make them worry that you’re not up to what they need for the job.
If you’re in a situation where you feel like you have to say something to explain, for example, forgetting a word, I’d rather have you say “sorry, brain blip!” instead of attributing it to being postpartum.