Ask Dorothy: Referring A Friend For A Job

The Referrer
When you decide to recommend a friend for a job you need to think of a few things first:

  • What if your friend gets hired but doesn’t work out?
    All of a sudden you gave your “stamp of approval” and said that this guy/girl is fantastic, hard-working and would be a great addition to the team. When in fact they weren’t. They maybe never “caught on” or maybe weren’t as hard-working as you thought. It can be difficult to know how someone is professionally when you only know them socially.
  • What if your referral didn’t get hired because they didn’t interview well or weren’t a strong candidate?
    Here you are putting your neck on the line for your friend and they blow it by bombing the interview. Your reputation is at stake. You just referred someone that ended up not being a strong candidate. You just possibly wasted peoples times and your co-workers or boss may wonder about your judgment or insight on what the company needs. If you’re going to refer a friend help them prepare for the interview and don’t pump them up to be someone that they aren’t. Don’t set yourself and them up for failure.
  • What if you friend gets hired and you can’t be friends with them anymore?
    Friends might be fun on weekends and at parties but what if they aren’t great co-workers. What if they just annoy you all day by either being a slacker, gossiping, flirting and generally being a douche. What if one of you get promoted and end up managing the other one? What if you have to fire your friend or what if your friend has to fire you? Would your friendship survive? There is a lot to think about before you refer a friend.

The Friend
As the friend, or the referred candidate, there are some things you need to think about before accepting/asking for a job recommendation/referral.

  • If you got the job what would be your working relationship be with your friend
    You have to realize that your friend or you due to promotions or re-organization of departments may be managing the other. Would you be ok with that?
  • How close is your friend to the interview process?
    The perfect scenario would be that they know the hiring manager and can almost guarantee you the job. This is not always the case but when your friend refers you they should at least get inside information from HR or the hiring managers on how your interview went and what your chances are.
  • Are they referring you for a job that you are qualified for?
    You may be desperate for a job but make sure your friend knows what you can and cannot do. You want to make sure that they are not inviting you to the hardest interview you will ever go on. Make sure that your friend is not pumping you up to be someone that you’re not. Even though you’re a referred candidate you need to be able to do the job and express yourself well so don’t think you can wing the interview. Prepare just like you would for any other interview.

At the End of The Day
We may think when we refer a friend that we are doing a good deed or it may be fun to work with them. What we really should be thinking is are they a good fit for the company and the job? Will they represent me well? Can I help them prepare for the interview? How much do I know about their department, hiring manager and most importantly interview process? As a referrer I think you have some responsibility to help your friend as much as you can, once you decided to refer them. If your friend doesn’t hear from HR in a few days you should see what you can find out for them. You referred them so you should stay in touch with HR or the hiring manager so you know what their chances are and you can let them know as well. That’s what a good friend would do.

Ask Dorothy
Here is an example from Ask Dorothy, where I post a comment or answer to questions that I have received from Twitter: @dorothyjs, my contact me page or through the comment sections of my posts, of how the referrer should have given the friend as much information as possible and let them know that they are not the only ones being interviewed and what their chances of getting hired were.


I found your blog sometime ago and I find it very useful. I’m hoping for your perspective on a recent interview process.
So a friend of mine that I used to work with asked me to go to work with her on a team at a new job. I submitted my package to a recruiter, she submitted it to the team and I was brought in for an interview less than 4 days after hearing about the job.
My friend and her teammate interviewed me. I felt the interview went well. My friend said at the end of the interview that I should expect to hear back within two days, that the boss likes to make decisions fast and that she thought I’d be a good fit, but the interview was largely about impressing the teammate, which she said she believed I did.
The recruiter called me today (as it’s a contract job and the recruiting firm handles the contract and pay for the position). The recruiter asked me to hold tight and that from the feedback she received they were very interested and impressed by me, but that they had one more person to interview on Friday. I’m concerned because I didn’t get the impression they were interviewing anyone else and my colleague/friend said she expected I’d hear back sooner. I’m worried that I didn’t impress them enough and they brought in someone else to interview. Additionally the original recruiter is going on vacation and she is passing me off onto another recruiter to finish out the process. Do you think I have a reason to be concerned about that, the recruiter’s response or the bringing in of someone else to interview several days later? Did I miss my chance or could other factors be at play?

My Response

Hi Tim,
I think your friend and her team had a hard time finding a person to join their group. So they were asked to ask friends and colleagues if they knew anyone. Your friend asked you as I’m sure her other colleagues asked their friends. You were invited for the interview and did well. Great! but now the recruiter is interviewing the other candidates that the other team members suggested. Don’t be fooled if they gave you an impression that you were the only one they were interviewing because that would be a huge lie. The only time a company would only interview and hire one person is if they were VERY desperate. In this case, they are not desperate and the recruiter is just looking at another candidate that was submitted. I’m sure you blew them away and your friend is telling everyone that you are the BEST and need to be hired right away 😉
I don’t think you should worry about the original recruiter passing you off to another recruiter because she is going on vacation. That is normal but if I was the recruiter I would want to finish the process. Did you contact the new recruiter? I would introduce yourself and ask where he/she was in the recruitment process. I honestly think since your friend was on the interview panel she would be the best person to ask re: who they are going to hire as they would be the first to know. The difficult part in this scenario is that the other person they interviewed is probably a friend of a person on the team, which means two people on the team are voting for their friends to get hired. This makes things difficult unless one person out shined the other in the interview. I really believe you should talk to your friend. Thanks for leaving the comment and good luck!

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