What if a Job Candidate Shows Up at an Interview With His Parents?
According to The Wall Street Journal, some millennials (those people born between 1981 and the early 2000s) have started taking their parents along to job interviews. This practice is more prevalent in the Far East but nearly ten percent of U.S. job applicants may feel this need of reinforcement. As a business owner, what would you do if a potential hire walked in with mom or dad?
One perspective would be that the parent shows you what the child will become. Entrepreneurs famously have entrepreneurial children; so if you see before you a driven, creative, free thinking college graduate with business owners as parents, you can be pretty sure the young potential hire will bring to work a fairly pragmatic understanding of what a successful company needs. Equally, if the parents are deeply conventional and skeptical of a private company, you can't but recognize your candidate might get a tough ride at home. Families share a lot of values so if you are hiring for attitude, parental presence may tell you a lot.
Or Questions Arise
On the other hand, you have to ask: how grown up is the graduate who can't come to work alone? Many of my best hires had been working since they were in their early teens. They had enough work experience under their belts to know how to behave and had done enough dreary jobs to know they'd have to work hard to get promoted. I have always prized initiative and independent thinking--and I'd find it hard to see that in a candidate with mom or dad nearby.
There's another problem with bringing parents along. It is notoriously difficult getting people to be frank in interviews. Most candidates want to tell you what they think you want to hear. If, at the same time, they're also working hard not to disabuse their parents of certain hopes and dreams, your chances of honest insight are reduced. And they're low enough already.
I have helped my kids negotiate their pay and conditions. But I do that in the background, not in the interview. I define my success as a parent by my childrens' ability to thrive without me. If they can't fend for themselves in a job interview, I think I've failed. And so have they.
Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur and author. She has been chief executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. In 2014, she published her fourth book, A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition.