"If your Gen-Z kid asks you to go to their job interview, I’m sorry, but you’ve been doing parenting all wrong" - why mums should just say no

Would you accompany your adult child to a job interview? Our Deputy Editor thinks there's only one right answer... HELL, NO.

Candidates waiting for a job interview
(Image credit: Getty Images)

I thought I had already discovered the silliest parenting trend of all time. Charging for playdates was by far the most absurd parenting idea I've come across for a while. Until today, when I learned that Gen Zers - that’s young people aged between 18 and 27 - are leaning rather too heavily on their parents for help with job-hunting, according to new research.

A poll of 1,428 American-based Gen Zers conducted by ResumeTemplates.com revealed that one in ten respondents got their parents to write their resume, and 16 percent got their parents to submit a job application for them. But that's not even the bonkers bit. Wait for it: 25 percent of Gen Zers say they have shown up to a job interview with a parent in tow. Take a moment to stop laughing. I had to.

As a mum of three, two of whom are Gen Zers, it took me all of two seconds to weigh up whether I'd ever go along to a job interview with one of my sons if they asked. Nope. Not if hell froze over. I'm all for cheerleading my kids and offering them whatever support they need as they grow up and make their way in the world. And let's face it, with the economy the way it is and the cost of living crisis ongoing, many Gen Zers have no choice but to rely on the bank of mum and dad. But I draw the line at anything as mollycoddling as accompanying them to a job interview.

Why? Because the first rule of parenting is this: raise them to be independent humans. If you could look that up in some kind of ultimate parenting dictionary I reckon you’d find ‘accompanying an adult child to a job interview’ listed as the very antithesis of raising an independent human.

“There are two lasting things we give our children. One is roots and the other is wings.”

Our primary role as parents is to equip our kids with the skills they need to live their own lives. As one of my favourite parenting mantras goes: "There are two lasting things we give our children. One is roots, and the other is wings." If a young person can't handle a job interview without asking their parent to come along and hold their hand, then something has gone very wrong in the process of parenting.

To be clear, I’m talking about young people who ask a parent to come along despite being fully capable of attending an interview alone. I have friends who accompany their children with additional needs and disabilities to various interviews and opportunities, which is the right thing to do. That's a completely different scenario.

And we're not just talking about supportive parents waiting in a nearby coffee shop during their kid's interview. Of the Gen Zers who bring their parents to interviews, 31 per cent had a parent accompany them to an in-person interview, while 29 per cent had them join a virtual interview. Among those who had a parent come to an in-person interview, 37 per cent said their parent accompanied them to the office, 26 per cent said their parent sat in the interview room, 18 per cent said their parent introduced themselves to the manager, and 7 per cent said their parents answered questions. The cringe is off the scale.

What impression does this create for the employer? Having conducted many interviews over the years, I can tell you that if a candidate asked to bring their parent along, I’d be horrified. An interview is an opportunity to demonstrate what you have to offer the company. If you can’t do that without your parent in the room, I’d question your ability to handle more challenging aspects of the job, like making difficult decisions or dealing with conflict. What happens if you have to go through a disciplinary procedure? Is your parent going to pop into the office to give me one of those menacing mum glares?

What happens if you have to go through a disciplinary procedure? Is your parent going to pop into the office to give me one of those menacing mum glares?

"Parents submitting applications without involving their child is certainly not ideal," says ResumeTemplates' Executive Resume Writer Andrew Stoner. "Young workers will not gain practical knowledge and experience with the application process this way, and they will likely be less invested and prepared for an employer’s expectations during the interview process. If young workers lack motivation or knowledge, their chances for success in recruiting, and even more in the job, are limited."

I’d never go to my Gen Z kid’s job interview because doing so would demonstrate a damaging lack of belief in the applicant. Gen Z kids are remarkably skilled and resilient, in my experience—not just at choosing perfectly ripe avocados or finding the best sourdough. They can problem-solve like ninjas when it comes to video games, and there seems to be no technical challenge they can't handle, for starters. The idea that they might need a parent in a job interview is laughably silly. If either of my boys asked me to accompany them to a job interview, I'd tell them to give their heads a wobble and stop underestimating themselves. When my kids lean on me for support, I bring every tool in my kit that might help them. But most importantly, I remind them of all the reasons why they can handle whatever life throws their way.

Having spent years mingling with other parents of Gen Z kids, I’ve witnessed a lot of overparenting that leads to young people not being able to stand on their own two feet. I know a surprising number of parents who completed their kid’s A-level coursework for them. But where does that end? How long before kids want a parent with them in exams, on a first date, or during a driving test?

Daughter kissing her mother during a celebration at home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But where does that end? How long before kids want a parent with them in exams, on a first date, or during a driving test?

Here's the other problem I have with this approach to parenting: if the job interview goes well and the Gen Zer lands the gig, how do they know whether it's on their own merits or not? By showing up to an adult child's job interview like some kind of stage mum, you risk denying your kid the chance to shine. So please, mums, just say no if your Gen Zer asks you to go with them to a job interview. Give them your best interview tips and coach them through how to prepare, by all means. Make plans to commiserate or celebrate together once the interview process is over. But please, just say no to overparenting and let them see how capable they are.

We also have to address the fact that letting your adult kids lean too heavily on you as they grow up sets them up for difficult days ahead. My dear dad, who died suddenly a few years ago, was the ultimate supportive parent. Throughout my career, whenever something big happened, my dad was always my first phone call. When I landed my first media job in London as a graduate, he was the first to know. When I was made redundant from it five years later, at eight months pregnant, he was there for me. 

My job here at GoodtoKnow was a dream gig that I applied for not long after my dad passed away, and when I got the call to offer me the job after a lengthy, nail-biting process, my dad was the only person I wanted to call. Not because he had fostered over-reliance on him, but because he had nailed this part of parenting. He was such a consistent cheerleader who encouraged my dreams so that I had the faith in myself to go for it when the big job opportunity came, and to win it entirely on my own merits. We all have to stand on our own two feet in the end, and it's better to learn how before we have no choice.

I know how tempting it can be to overreach into our adult children's lives. The parental urge to protect our kids from harm can be overwhelming, and it's not always easy to work out when to step in and when to step back. I imagine that parents who go to their kid's job interview do so because they want to shield them from setbacks, failure, and disappointment. But being on permanent standby to rescue young adults doesn’t help them at all. Roots and wings, remember? A parent's actions should never stunt a child's growth or clip their wings, especially not when they're adults.

Looking for more topical content on the parenting debate of the day? Discover Charging for playdates: money savvy or rude? and check out I'm a parenting expert - here's why Sports Day IS for winners and losers, and shouldn't be a non-competitive woke fest.

Heidi Scrimgeour
Deputy Editor

Heidi is a seasoned parenting journalist with over 15 years of experience. She has contributed to numerous UK national newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, and The Telegraph. Her work has also appeared in a variety of print and digital magazines, such as Psychologies and Mother & Baby, where she was Shopping Editor for six years. In this role, she specialised in consumer features, including buying guides and baby gear reviews. Heidi is also mum to two teenage sons and a ten-year-old daughter.