Dear Parents —I know you want the best for little Dylan or Caitlyn but please, please, don’t attend their job interviews with them. And, when I say “little Dylan,” I’m not thinking of a teenager looking for extra hours doing odd jobs. I’m talking about 21- and 22-year-old college graduates looking for their first job in their chosen field.
It may seem crazy that a parent would even contemplate doing this, but apparently the parents used to “managing” their children’s careers through high school want to continue this trend and ensure they maximize their college tuition investment.
In my current role at a software company, I had grown accustomed to getting resumes from former colleagues on behalf of their kids for summer internships. But I hadn’t yet experienced the phenomena of parents attending a job interview alongside their children.
This all changed when an acquaintance (let’s call him “Big Dylan”) emailed me about giving Dylan Jr. a tour of our office and talking to him about a career in sales and marketing. Big Dylan and I had worked on a project together, despite being at different companies, so I was happy to help. Dylan Jr. was home, graduating in May, and actively searching for opportunities.
It so happened, I was fighting a bad cold that day. I was inhaling decongestants so wasn’t the most lucid when I arrived in reception to pick up Dylan Jr. for his tour with an HR person in tow. Dylan Jr. was in the bathroom but Big Dylan immediately jumped up to thank me for seeing his son. I was a bit surprised to see him at all but figured Big Dylan was dropping his son off and was saying “hi” as a courtesy. It was only after Dylan Jr. reappeared and we walked to the conference room — together — that I realized Dad was planning on attending the interview — in a suit that matched his son’s!
Now I must interject here that my own daughter would never let me attend an interview, much less let me give her advice before going to a job interview. Dylan Jr., however, while poised and seemingly normal, didn’t seem to think it was the least strange that his father was along for the ride. In fact, he didn’t even blink when Dad handed me copies of Junior’s resume and proceeded to highlight some of young Dylan’s achievements.
I tried as best I could to hold it together — my HR colleague and I gave each other some major side-eye – while I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from bursting out laughing. Every time I tried to get Dylan Jr. to talk about his background, Dad interrupted. Dylan Jr. wasn’t shy and was quite accomplished if his CV was any indication, but he seemed comfortable with Dad doing the talking.
At this point, I thought that perhaps we could shake Dad if we took the promised office tour and then dropped off Dad at reception so we could get some time alone with Dylan Jr. Dad seemed excited by the tour – so excited, he pushed in front of us and started to lead the tour himself. Dad had been in our office previously and apparently knew the layout of our first floor. My colleague and I hustled to keep up with Dad and Dylan Jr. At one point, Dad even corrected us on a tidbit of company history.
“Good luck,” whispered my HR associate who wisely decided to bail at this point. “Even if I wanted to hire Dylan, I don’t think I could afford to hire Dylan Sr. too.”
Despite exaggerating my coughing and sniffling for dramatic effect (maybe Dad would want to leave for fear of catching my cold?), Dad wasn’t going anywhere. Back we went to our same conference room where Dad snapped open his iPad, focusing on our big screen monitor. “What’s your WIFI password?” he asked — I pointed mutely to a small card listing the guest network details. The next thing I knew, a woman’s image popped up on the conference room monitor — yes — Dylan’s mother!
“Hi Elaine,” Dad bellowed at the screen. “I just want to give you an update on Dylan Jr.’s interview – he’s doing great!” He then turned his iPad camera on us (both Dylan Jr. and I dutifully waved to Mom). “Uh, Elaine, do YOU have any questions?” I began.
“Hold on, hold on,” Elaine tapped at her keyboard, “I just want to pull up MY list of questions.” Luckily at this point, the company receptionist burst into the conference room stating that I had was needed upstairs urgently (my HR colleague had given her a heads-up on what was going on and she decided to save me).
“Thank you,” I mouthed, escaping to the elevator bank, thanking Dylan and Dylan, Jr., for coming in and apologizing profusely for my “emergency.” Our receptionist ended up concluding the interview and showing them out where we Never. Heard. From. Either Dylan. Again. Now I don’t know if they were angry that the interview didn’t go on longer, didn’t think the company was good enough to launch Dylan Jr.’s career, but I would have thought a “thank you” note — or even email — was de rigueur from any candidate.
“Be glad it’s over and Dad isn’t calling you to negotiate Dylan Jr.’s salary and stock benefits, much less a CEO title,” advised one colleague upon hearing the story.
While this whole incident may seem like good cocktail party chatter, it’s increasingly common. According to a WSJ article, eight percent of recent college grads brought their parents along to an interview while three percent had their parents sit in on their interview. Still three percent too many in my book.
Perhaps I’m old school, but I can’t see any scenario under which parental involvement is a good thing in the hiring process.
If the goal is to raise kids that are self-sufficient and embark on their life choices without their parents, finding the right fit on their own through rejection is a way of teaching resilience. The kids whose parents were actively involved throughout their children’s lives aren’t doing them any favors today by interfering and trying to overcompensate for a lack of life skills.
So I’ll say it again, gentle reader and parents of recent college graduates, no matter how much you want to help your child by attending their interview, please stay home!
This author wishes to remain anonymous.