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May 29, 2009
Meet the Parents
So you've met someone new and really hit it off.  In fact, you think they might be 'the one'.  Through the course of dating, you've now met the friends, possibly even the siblings, and so far you've received thumbs up from all parties.  Before you move forward to the bigger next steps though (engagement? marriage?), there is the all-important meeting the parents - yikes.  But hey you've done this before, parents usually love you.  Nothing to be so nervous about, just be your charming self and all should go well.

This scenario isn't so different from when you make it to the final round of an interview and are meeting with the head honcho.  You've successfully completed multiple rounds of interviews but this one is make or break.  Here is some advice with analogies to help you put it in perspective and pass with flying colors:

Introductions: Be mindful of how you're introduced.  If it's Mr-and-Mrs, keep that format.  You will probably be on a first name basis though so be confident and don't feel awkward; you are an adult, a progressive equal.  You've already been endorsed so go with it.  Showing your ease in their presence should help alleviate some inherent tension and in turn benefit you.

Ask questions, don't wait to be grilled:  If you take control of the conversation and move it in a direction you're comfortable with, you have a better chance of success out of the gate.  Don't forget that everyone likes to have questions asked about themselves, whether it's a set of parents or a CEO.  It's ok to make a general comment about a picture on a desk or wall but try to walk that line between politely interested and creepy/intrusive.  Just one personal question to an interviewer will suffice - then take it back to business.

Compliment their kid: Basically this means the management staff you've already met.  Just like parents are proud of their children and love to hear how wonderful they are, a company leader likes to hear the same about their senior staff.  Name names and reference details to make more of an impact.

Don't Eddie Haskell it: (for anyone too young to know this, check out Wikipedia)  The lesson is don't lay it on too thick.  Be respectful and complimentary but you must also be genuine.  If you're on track to become part of a family, the real you must show through.  Businesses are families just as much as your future in-laws are a family - and no one welcomes a phony or heaven forbid a show-off into their family.

Deep breaths and attentive focus along with the knowledge that you've made it this far will serve you well.  After all, every parent met their in-law's for the first time at some point, and every CEO had to work his or her way up through the interview process multiple times.  You'll be great.

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Amy Hoover has been with Talent Zoo for more than 12 years. Considered an industry expert in employment practices and trends, she speaks often at events and is frequently interviewed by industry publications.

Amy was also widely read as the premier blogger on Hiring-Revolution for many years where she earned a reputation for wit, entertainment, information, and no bull. You can find her on Linked, friend her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.
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