Do You Know Your Interviewer?

The job interview is an event that’s filled with equal amounts of anticipation and dread – you’re excited that you’ve come so far and that you’re on the threshold of a dream job, yet apprehensive that if you fail to cross this hurdle, it could be back to square one again. This mixture of trepidation and expectation sometimes works against your favor and you end up making the silliest of mistakes and kicking yourself for them. Everyone knows that it does not pay to be late and unprepared or that you’re out of the game if you’re dressed inappropriately, so we’ve got all these basics and many similar others covered; however, there are some things that are out of the ordinary and therefore, unexpected. The problem with the unexpected is that it tends to throw you off track and all your preparation in is vain.

One such issue that could crop up and threaten to derail your attempts at success in any interview is when you face the panel, only to find that you know one of them. The way you react and behave during the interview in such cases could determine your future. It’s not that hard a scenario to envision – an old acquaintance or a family friend who you haven’t seen for a while is one of the people responsible for conducting your interview. If so, how do you hold your own and prevent the interview from going downhill for no fault of your own?

Contrary to what you may believe, knowing someone on the interview panel is not such a good thing, especially not if the rest of the panel is not too impressed with the fact and sense nepotism in the air. While there are no hard-and-fast rules that govern such a situation, it’s best to err on the side of caution and do the following:

  • Your first reaction may be to smile and greet the other person, thus letting on that you share a prior relationship. However, this may not go down well with the others on the panel, and they may feel that you could be using inside connections to get the job. So the best thing to do is to stay silent and treat the person you know just as you treat the rest of them, politely and respectfully.
  • If your interviewer shows signs of recognizing and acknowledging the relationship with you, then it’s ok to respond in kind, but until then, you’re better off pretending that the members on the interview panel are all strangers to you.
  • Don’t expect your acquaintance/friend to be on your side during the interview; more often than not, they’re going to do what’s right for the company, especially if they don’t want to be accused of bias if the rest of the panel comes to know that he/she is acquainted with you.
  • Stick to your original plan, and even though you may have faltered initially, gather your composure and answer clearly, concisely and intelligently to boost your chances of success.

Success in interviews comes to those who are composed, well-informed, clear of their goals and confident about their abilities, and able to get across these traits without much fanfare.