So a guy walks into an interview… with his mum.

You couldn’t make this stuff up! Well you could, but then it would be just a made up story… with no redeemable features… and no substance… kinda like Oscar Pistorius’ little tale.

Let me frame it for you.

Recently there has been a shift in mindset with some of our clients. They are looking to grow their businesses with young rookie talent from outside of industry. Theory is, you won’t have to deprogram consultants who have come with bad habits from other agencies. We have seen a lot of success with this process – young, enthusiastic prospects with strong B2B experience and a positive attitude.

Anyway… last Tuesday, my 10:30am interview arrives promptly at 10:13am. I go out to reception to greet him and find he has brought along his mother… no big deal… often our candidates are driven in to interviews by someone else…

‘Hi Rodney, I’m Craig nice to meet you.’ I produce my hand, we shake… and before I can produce another well crafted syllable…

misery1‘And I’m Marjory… Rodney’s mum.’ Imagine Kathy Bates from Misery. She was a pretty imposing figure, with a little too much hair on her upper lip, way too much poorly applied make-up and a bright yellow anorak style overcoat… no disrespect intended… but it was 27 degrees celsius outside…

‘Well good morning Mrs Trotter.’ I smiled.

‘Not Mrs. Trotter… Marjory.’ She glared back. Was she just letting me know she was single?

‘Ok…. Marjory… I’ll be with Rodney for about an hour. There’s a fantastic coffee shop downstairs if you would prefer to relax and wait for him there?’

‘No… no.’ Marjory replied looking at Rodney. ‘I’ll come into the interview with him.’

Strange… and a little rattled I succumbed.

I offered tea, coffee or water. Rodney deferred to his mother and she answered in the negative… for both on them. We sat in the meeting room, and I dutifully began the interview.

‘So, Rodney… when we spoke on the phone we went through the role fairly thoroughly. So given the couple of days you have had to digest… the first question I want to ask you is why do you want a career in recruitment?’

Rodney fidgeted… looked at his mum… opened his mouth… and…

‘Well Rodney really likes working with people.’ I looked at Marjory… Rodney looked at Marjory… and she continued.

‘You see Rodney really has the gift of the gab. He is excellent at building rapport and developing relationships. I believe they are key strengths and very important in recruitment.’

‘Yes.’ I nodded. ‘So Rodney, in your last role you were a telecommunications BDM. Was that B2B or B2C?’

‘What does that mean?’ Again. Marjory.

‘I’m sorry Mrs… Marjory.’ I said. ‘ I really need Rodney to respond to the questions if that’s ok with you?’

Rodney stared wide-eyed at his mother, and she glared at me.

‘Fine.’ She sat back in her chair.

misery2‘So Rodney was it B2B or B2C?’

‘Well… er… it was… ummmm…’

‘Oh for God’s sake!’ Marjory interrupted. ‘Stop mumbling and speak up!’

I was horrified. Rodney seemed resigned to it all… and Marjory sat there, tightly gripping her handbag over her knees, eyes bulging, nostrils flaring and the hair on her upper lip quivering.

Needless to say I brought the interview to as natural as an end as I could… I did wonder if she was carrying a tiny sledgehammer in her bag that she used to hobble unsuspecting interviewers who failed to employ her son, but this was unfounded…

My point? Well my point is recruiters should know better.

Sure Rodney was a rookie, but I have come across some really experienced and successful recruiters who are damn awful in an interview. Research, know your billings, be able to articulate examples of your success and above all follow the advice you give your own candidates. It’s really not that hard…

Whilst you are here, check out Aspect Personnel who are our latest Agency in Focus. They are awesome and they are hiring now……and we are offering $2k for any successful referrals.

Craig Watson


8 thoughts on “So a guy walks into an interview… with his mum.

  1. Glynis Ranger on Reply

    I think you need to go and live in South Africa first for at least 6 months and then be in a position to pass judgement on Oscar Pistorious’s story.
    I lived there for 28 years and left as it was “time” for me to buy a gun and learn how to use it – that was 1993 and things are much worse now. It was just a question of time till “my ticket would be up”. All my immediate friends had been victims of violent crimes – mostly in their own homes. I slept with a baseball bat under my bed, but knew it was no match for an intuder with a gun. nad i had to be standing up and braced for it to be effective – those seconds of time preparing in an incident may cost me my life.
    Violent crime is part of your daily life and you are CONSTANTLY at risk. If you hear a bump in the night, you grab whaterver you have to protect yourself, use it and then ask questions later, that is just the way it is. If you spend 10 seconds investigating the “thump” it will most likely cost you your life. There is NO time to assess the situation and I can only imagine how vulnerable someone with no legs feels. People need to understand that the crime in South Africa is very very VIOLENT. There are NO second chances. The perpetrators have no value for life and its not just a case of smash and grab….it is smash, rape, matchette, hack, bludgeon, shoot and then grab and leave. Burglaries and break ins there are ALWAYS accompanied by violence, usually resulting in death of the victim. To be conmpletely honest, had i been in his shoes, I would have emptied the whole magazine in the gun and not stopped until it jammed. In fact I think he was quite measured to only fire 4 times.
    I’m not saying what he did was right – I am saying that given the environment he lives in, it is what any reasonable person would do to protect themselves and those they care about.
    I dont think that you can pass judgement on someone unless you walk in their shoes. It’s so easy to damn him when you live in complete safety, the police are 5 minutes away if you need them, you don’t feel the need to carry a weapon and sleep soundly at night – every night. Spruiking from the ivory tower is not helpful in understanding this case.

    1. Darren Ledger on Reply

      A little bit of an overreaction maybe Glynis! It was a light hearted reference as an anchor in the writing formula. We all know South Afticans are crazy paranoid gun toting freaks who love any excuse to shoot anything, you really didn’t need to reinforce that given assumption.

      Ps: who is Oscar Pistorius?

  2. Darren Ledger on Reply

    If I discovered one of my recruiters didn’t have the necessary skills to firstly control this situation and get the Mother to leave the building and secondly to be able to relax the interviewee to get responses I would dismiss them on the spot.

    Unusually I don’t actually get the point of this post. I suspect a few Bundaburg’s may have been consumed during the writing!

  3. Stacy Brown Hummer on Reply

    I have run into similar experiences to include spouses arriving with the candidate. However I have never allowed them into the interview knowing that it would be a total deterrent and humiliation for the candidate.
    We have a serious issue in our society right now with parents and caretakers wanting to do everything for the child or young adult and not teaching life skills. The control exhibited over ones life like this is not respectful or beneficial and is causing major gaps in our current workforce.
    I witnessed this scenario when I was in an office last week to take care of something. It was incredibly tempting to go ask the young man if he had a voice.
    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Anne-Marie Orrock on Reply

    I have experienced this a few times Craig, mainly in the last 5 years. Candidates late because ‘Mum took a wrong turn driving me here’ or it was first time they had caught public transport on their own. One employees mum came in on the first day of work to meet his boss and settle him in. About 10 years ago I had a parent come in after an employee had been given a performance warning and wanted to ‘discuss it’. It seems the younger generations are great at connecting online, but less skilled at disconnecting from the apron strings!

    1. Donna Palmer on Reply

      Having wiorked in Retail for many years, this was common during events recruiting. The only time a parent should be allowed into an interview is if the person being interview is a minor (under 16), Even then, if the parent, or child, feels the need to be present, then they are not ready to work, and should not be considered.

  5. Philip Divilly on Reply

    Wow Craig, hard to believe but yet doesn’t surprise me.

    There are a lot of over protective parents out there who believe they are doing their children a favour, yet its counter productive and a bit scary.

    I have experienced something like this once before and luckily for me the Mother of the candidate did accept the coffee shop offer downstairs and I could conduct the interview freely.

    Thanks for sharing.

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