The term “helicopter parent” first gained notoriety a few years ago, when millenials started showing up on college campuses with their parents in close pursuit. Now that those millenials are out looking for jobs, employers are finding themselves bombarded by parents who submit resumes for their children (sometimes without their knowledge), call to ask why they weren’t hired, or even show up at an interview to negotiate salary on their child’s behalf. While it’s become so prevalent that some employers are adapting, you have a chance to set yourself apart from the competition if you show up at the interview with not a single apron string in sight.
So what can you do if you’re worried your parents’ rotors will start spinning the minute you tell them you have an interview? Ultimately, it comes down to you, your parents, and your relationship with them, but take a look and see if one or more of these tips will work for you.
Prove you don’t need air cover
Maybe your parents took to the air because years of experience have taught them that you won’t brush your teeth more than once a week – or even get out of bed! – without their prodding. If so, you’ve got a challenge ahead of you, but you can do it. It comes down to three things: apologize, thank, and reassure.
- First, apologize for forcing them to spend so many years managing your life.
- Second, say “thank you." Let them know you realize the situation put a big burden on them and that you appreciate what they’ve done.
- Finally, reassure them that you’re ready to take over the controls – and that means offering proof. Sit down and have a conversation about the interview, and show them that you have it all under control. Talk about details like what the name of the company is, what the job is, what the responsibilities are, where the office is, what time the interview is and how long it will take you to get there, what you’re wearing, how you’ve prepared, etc. The key is to keep them firmly on the ground by pre-empting every question or piece of advice they may have. (And make sure you follow through!)
Praise them for teaching you everything you know
Maybe you haven’t been a slacker. Maybe you’ve always been an overachiever and realize that a lot of the credit goes to your parents’ support and encouragement. In this case, your best bet is to bring up all of the lessons they’ve taught you and describe how you’re going to use those lessons:
- If your parents have always harped on how important it is to dress appropriately for an interview, tell them what you plan to wear.
- If they put a lot of weight on punctuality, tell them how you plan to make sure you get to the interview at least 10 minutes early.
- If they’ve always said that the questions you ask in an interview are just as important as the questions you answer, tell them the questions you’ve come up with.
If your parents are always on high alert
In an ideal world, all parents would respond to one of these strategies. Unfortunately, we all know there are parents out there who won’t stand down, no matter what. In this case, it’s best to operate on a need-to-know basis. You don’t want to lie or be disrespectful; just be discrete. If you live at home you might not be able to avoid letting your parents know you have an interview, but you can avoid revealing any details. Tell them that you’d rather not say anything specific until you know more, and stick to it. If you want to discuss how it went afterward, that’s fine, but if you’re worried about them calling your prospective employer, don’t give out any information that would make it possible for them to do that.
Raising parents can be hard, especially if you’ve spent years teaching them that you can’t do it without their help. But there’s a time for everything, and this is the perfect opportunity to persuade your parents to retire their aviator wings.