Parents at the Job Interview

Would you bring you parents to a job interview?

Over the past few years, parental involvement in the hiring and interview process has increased significantly.  I’ve seen parents accompany their kids to the job interview and had calls from parents trying to negotiate salaries behalf of their children.  At best,  it’s something that gets talked about. It becomes a “can you believe what happened today at the office” kind of story.  At worst, it could cost the applicant the job.  It gives hiring managers the impression that the candidate family-515530isn’t prepared for the job, not able to advocate for themselves or problem solve.

There’s no doubt that parents want to help their children.  They want to stay involved in their lives, especially in that first ‘real’ job. However, parents can do more harm than help in some cases.  I’m going to talk about ways that parents can be involved and helpful without getting in the way of the hiring process.  If you (as an applicant) are working with a manager directly, keep in mind that filling this position is one small slice of the work they have to get done.  Recruiters might be working to fill dozens of positions at a time.  Expecting a recruiter or hiring manager to negotiate with an applicant and a parent can leave them frustrated and move on to another candidate.


Applicants need to take the lead

You need be the one talking to the hiring manager and recruiters directly.  Parents, please don’t check in on behalf of your child.  It’s not a good idea for parents to accompany you to the interview,  if they’re helping you with transportation, ask them to visit a local park or coffee shop during the interview.

“My mom is the one who got me the interview at X company so that she can check on the status of the interview, right?”  

It’s not a good idea for parents to check on the status of the hiring process, even if they work at the company.  Keep the relationship professional and develop your identity apart from theirs.  When I was working in hospitality HR, parents would try hard to help their kids get positions there.  Some parents would check on the application every day, and get upset when I couldn’t provide updates.  The best thing to do is let the process work.  Parents, you aren’t going to help move the process along by pestering HR or the hiring manager, I promise!

Parents shouldn’t:

  • Check on the status of an application/interview
  • Sit in on an interview or wait in the lobby
  • Attempt to negotiate salaries or benefits
  • Act as a reference for a child (even if you have a different last name)
  • fill out an application on behalf of their child

Where parents can help

Parents and family members can be a fantastic resource to help applicants without overstepping boundaries.  I encourage you to use your parents to work behind the scenes with you.  If they’re working, ask them to keep an eye out for open positions at their company.  Companies sometimes will post jobs internally before they start looking outside for applicants.  Another thing that can be helpful is using your parent’s network to connect to other organizations.  Set up informational interviews with their colleagues to learn more about different organizations and begin making your connections.

Applicants, ask your parents to:

  • Proofread your resume and cover letter
  • Help practice interview questions (samples)
  • Refer you to open positions within their organization
  • Keep an eye out for job postings
  • Use their network to connect you

The hiring process can be intimidating, and it’s understandable to want help navigating it, especially the first time.  Show the company the skills and abilities that you bring to the table.  Organizations have designed the job interview process to get to know you as a candidate, and that can get muddy when someone else is representing you as well.


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