If you’re going to ask one question in an interview, perhaps it should be, “Tell me about your parents.”

There’s an adage about entrepreneurs that goes like this: The more skin you have in the game, the greater your commitment.

In other words, the greater the personal risk that a business person faces, the greater his or her commitment to that business will be.


While not always true, I believe this to be true more often than not, and as a result, I would like to suggest applying this rule to all hiring decisions as well.

During an interview, I suggest that questions be asked about an applicant’s family. Specifically, I would want the interviewer to determine the current financial state of an applicant’s parents, specifically if the applicant is young.

Does the applicant still live with Mommy and Daddy?

If the applicant is living on his or her own, would the applicant’s parents allow the applicant to move back home if finances became a problem?

How did the applicant pay for college? Did Mommy and Daddy fund the entire education or did the applicant make a significant financial investment as well?

If the job doesn’t work out, are Mommy and Daddy in a position to assist the applicant in the event that money becomes tight?

A friend recently suggested that the people who are most successful in the first five years of their careers tend to be those who have no other choice but to be successful. If there are no parents to provide a home or financial support, student  loans in need of repayment, and maybe even a family of their own to support, then an applicant is more likely to do whatever is required in order to be successful.

Issues like pride, arrogance, laziness, a lack of focus and a sense of entitlement are less likely to become a problem when a person has only himself to count upon for the next meal.

Naturally, I do not think that this is always the case. I know many people with enormously supportive parents who are very successful in their careers.

But I think my friend is right. If the only thing standing between you and homelessness is your success, you can’t help but have more skin in game, and therefore, you are more likely to be committed to your job.

I also believe that the people who have little or no parental support tend to people who complain a little less, work a little harder, adapt to change a little more willingly, and accept the role of a boss a little better.

When you can’t call Mom or Dad to complain, you are more likely to just do your job.