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Career Expert Explains Why 20% Of Gen-Z Applicants Bring Their Mom Or Dad To A Job Interview With Them

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
Smiling businesswoman taking interview of a job applicant

There's a new phenomenon happening with a plethora of Gen Zers applying for jobs, and it involves having their parents sit with them during pivotal moments in the job application process.

In a TikTok video, a career expert named Anna Papalia offered up an explanation for why this is happening after discovering research that claimed helicopter parents may be hindering their children's ability to be independent.

She explained why 20% of Gen Z job applicants bring their parents to job interviews.

In a clip from Fox News, anchors Caroline Collins and Anthony Antoine reacted to research that found that 20% of Gen Z applicants brought their mom or dad to a job interview. Of course, the initial reaction at hearing something like that is disbelief and confusion, but Papalia managed to explain why this is happening in the first place.

"I'm gonna make this make sense. Here's how it goes. Colleges and universities charge exorbitant tuitions and they don't prepare their students how to get jobs after graduation," Papalia said. "These students then return home and their parents are really frustrated."

   

   

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She claimed that parents feel as if they've spent all this money for their children not to learn the most fundamental aspect of attending college, and now, their child is living rent-free in their house with no job and no idea how to go about getting a job in the first place. As a solution, these frustrated parents decide to micromanage the entire situation and their child in the process, just as they did during their childhood.

"They think that the best way to do this is to call up an organization and say you need to hire my son or go on an interview with him," she continued.

However, during the interview, when the hiring manager asks why they should hire this applicant, that person can't just look to the side and ask their mom or dad to answer the question for them. Papalia pointed out that even if this idea worked when their child was eventually hired, would the parents just be in the cubicle next to them for the rest of their lives? 

   

   

"I feel uniquely qualified to speak on this topic," Papalia insisted. "I am a parent and I have taught thousands of college students how to interview for internships and jobs after graduation, and this is the thing that the parents are getting wrong."

Papalia explained that the best way to teach anyone how to do a job interview, you have to empower them and let them do it on their own instead of trying to hold their hand and do it with them. Even if someone goes for a job interview and doesn't end up getting the job, it is a learning experience that can help them when the next one comes up.

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Companies are now preferring older job candidates because of how often Gen Z applicants are bringing their parents to interviews.

A December 2023 survey from Intelligent, an online magazine focused on student life, surveyed 800 managers, directors, and executives involved in the hiring process. It found that 39% of employers actively avoid hiring recent college graduates for roles they’re qualified for.

Out of the 800 people surveyed, a startling one in five (19%) said a recent college graduate brought a parent with them to their job interview. On top of that, many recent college graduates are unprofessional during job interviews as well as "unprepared."

Diane M. Gayeski, a professor of strategic communications at Ithaca College, said in the report that a lot of this behavior is circumstantial due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Young people graduating from college had more than two years of disruption in their education as well as their social and professional development," Gayeski said. "Current seniors were in their freshman year at the height of COVID. They likely took classes online and were unable to participate in clubs, internships, or summer jobs."

Career Expert Explains Why 20% Of Gen-Z Job Applicants Bring Their Parents To A Job Interview With ThemPhoto: pixelshot / Canva Pro

However, as Papalia mentioned in her video, a lot of employers are starting to prefer older candidates because of how inexperienced Gen Z applicants are. This includes offering older candidates better benefits (60%), paying higher salaries to older employees (59%), allowing older workers to work remotely or in a hybrid environment (48%), and hiring older employees for roles they’re overqualified for (46%).

The best way for recent college graduates to get the full experience of job interviews is to do them alone.

That might mean failing the first one or few, but that's part of learning. 

Of course, that sounds terrifying to parents who just want to see their kids succeed in all aspects of life, but a common part of life is the imperfections and blunders. It teaches us what not to do in the future, and only through our failures can we grow and become better versions of ourselves.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.