We’ve talked before about how to interview someone you know, but what happens when it’s you in the hot seat, being grilled by familiar faces?

Whether you’re an internal candidate, or happen to know members of the panel through other means, interviewing for a job with someone you already know can present its own challenges. On the one hand it may feel like you already have a foot in the door, however talking up your skills and experiences to a friend can feel very awkward. How do you find the right balance? Let our latest top tips guide you through:

Do I tell them?
If you are facing an interview panel where at least one of the members is known to you, don’t feel like you have to make a grand statement around your existing relationship. The interviewer should’ve already alerted the rest of the panel to this prior. However, feel free to acknowledge your relationship when and where it feels appropriate e.g.: “as you will know Steve, I have worked across finance in my previous role at…” There’s no need to avoid the elephant in the room, but it is still important to keep things professional.

Speaking of staying professional, don’t let your familiarity get in the way of having a good interview. If you haven’t seen each other in a while and have a lot to catch up on, it might be a good idea to arrange a separate chat. That way you won’t fall into the trap of spending the whole-time reminiscing, and no time demonstrating why you’re a good fit for the role!

It also goes without saying, but don’t rely on your existing relationship with the interviewer to be what gets you the job! Remember that you are likely not the only one being considered, so give the interview process your full attention just like you would any other.

It feels weird being interviewed by someone I know!
Don’t get caught up worrying that you might sound too over-the-top or silly talking about yourself in front of someone who already knows you. Yes, it’s probably going to feel un-natural and a bit weird, but let’s face it, interviews in general tend to feel pretty strange regardless. Obviously if you’re exaggerating or being disingenuous with your experience or examples, that’s putting the person you know in a very tricky spot. Especially if they had put in a good word for you beforehand. You should always be honest in a job interview, so if that’s a concern, you may need to reassess how you present yourself and your abilities.

They know me, they already know how I work!
If the person interviewing you is a former manager or work colleague, this could be a good opportunity to demonstrate how much you have grown and developed since you last worked together (depending on how long it’s been, this may be a harder sell if it was only last week!). Have a think about what that person would consider to be your weaknesses or areas of development and then use the interview to show your improvement or strengths in these areas (along with all the other amazing things that you can do!).

If you are interviewing internally for a role and have a familiarity with not only the interviewer but also the organisation itself, don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Treat it like you would any other interview – do your prep and don’t forget to come prepared with some questions for the interview panel too. This may mean you have to delve a bit deeper than an outside applicant, given you probably already know the answers to the typical questions asked by candidates at a job interview. But you certainly shouldn’t skip this step just because you already work there.

When it comes to being interviewed by a friend or someone you know outside of work, it’s good to keep in mind that although they may know you very well, they probably don’t “know you” in a working context – there is a whole aspect of your life that they haven’t seen you operate in. Most of us tend to conduct ourselves a little differently when it comes to work and personal life, so interviewing with them is a chance to show off your professional self!

Will I be treated differently?
Regardless of whether you know your interviewer or not, a good recruitment process should treat all applicants equally. That means putting everyone through the same process and asking the same questions.

However, if you are an internal candidate, obviously you’re going to know things about the role or the organisation that others won’t. This in turn could lead to some slightly different questions being thrown your way around your interest and understanding of the role. On the flip side, there may be some interview questions that you don’t get asked i.e. “have you worked with this software before”, simply because they already know the answer. But the bottom line is you should be treated in the exact same way, having a familiarity with your interviewer is just a bonus!

I’m worried it’ll ruin our friendship if it doesn’t work out!
Even if you know the person asking those interview questions personally, they don’t necessarily get to make the final decision on who gets the job. As much as they may want to hire you, there could simply be another candidate who’s a better match for the role in question.

It might feel awkward to be declined by a friend or associate, but keep in mind that they are probably feeling the exact same way! Don’t hold any grudges, take it in your stride and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. This may be the one time where you don’t have to feel uneasy asking a stranger why you didn’t get the job, so make the most of it!

Sure, it hurts a bit deeper to be rejected for a job when you have that existing connection, but it’s important to remember that you wouldn’t have gotten the interview in the first place if you weren’t truly being considered for the opportunity. Whether it’s off the strength of your application alone, or if someone has put in a good word for you, you still deserve to be considered for the role on your own merits. If it doesn’t work out, then it probably wasn’t the right job for you!

If you do have an upcoming job interview with someone you know, and are feeling a bit unsure about how to approach the situation, you aren’t alone! It’s a unique situation to be in but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful interview!

Good luck!

Kirsty and Nikki

What to look for in a job application?