In case I am invited to a job interview, and in the invitation letter, recruitment tells me the names of the interview panel members. Suppose that I already know some or all of the members, through prior work engagements (including informal social events). Do I behave any differently for it, either in preparation or during the interview?

It seems a bit odd to enter such a formal situation with a greeting “Hi, Jane! Hi, Bob!". But it also seems weird to pretend that we're strangers or to be overly formal with someone I've been on first name basis with for months or years.

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    Just to confirm; do you actually have an upcoming interview where this is a possibility? Is your profession quite rare in your area, and therefore the chances of meeting familiar faces in other companies is higher than usual? – Kozaky Aug 14 at 7:39
  • @Kozaky I've had it happen in the recent past. I'm in research and was interviewing at an institute. In three interviews, there was one interview where I knew nobody, one where I knew one panel member, and one where I had met all before (although one panel member I knew was replaced by one I didn't know on short notice). I was not very surprised. – gerrit Aug 14 at 9:05
up vote 14 down vote accepted

If your familiarity with these people is strictly, or mostly, professional, as in they are former colleagues or supervisors, then I would say you need to do nothing. It would be up to them to declare themselves in a conflict of interest position, if they felt they couldn't review you fairly. This would be little different than if you were interviewing to re-join a company you'd worked for earlier, which is common enough.

If your relationship with any of them is mostly personal (former spouse, sports team-mate, family) then you should alert the recruiters of this.

If the recruitment agent is the one that arranged the interview, you could play it safe by informing them that you already know your interviewers from previous workplaces. It will be up to them to decide if this information is worth being passed on. Some companies may request someone else conduct the interview if there is a risk of bias or the interviewers not being impartial. "He's friends with EVERYONE on the panel and didn't mention this to anyone?" It might come across as suspicious but your recruitment contact ought to be the one to determine this, however unlikely.

In times where I have met the interviewers before, things being kept formal but friendly like in any other interview works just fine. A relatively informal introduction starts things off; "It's good to see you again, thanks for taking the time to see me." After this point, you should trust to yourself and the interviewers to be professional and treat you like any other candidate. There will be no sin in citing common past experiences (such as for the "can you think of an example" questions), but nevertheless answer them as if to strangers, making no assumptions of what they recall.

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    Good point, OP clearly applied as he knows people who work there could be bias and suspicious. possibly to try hide the fact to others in case other candidates feel is unfair before it's even started if not changing interviewers. – Twyxz Aug 13 at 9:39
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    I assume the members of the interview panel know the names of the candidates they will interview in advance. Am I assuming too much? – gerrit Aug 13 at 9:46
  • @gerrit Interviewers may have prepared a couple of questions specific to each candidate's own CV, which means they are likely to have seen your name and past jobs somewhere. It's a fair assumption, but that again is no guarantee that others learn of your connection too. – Kozaky Aug 13 at 9:50
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    +1, but I'd go stronger than this and say definitely play it safe and inform them. Chances are nothing then changes, but you've also shown that you've nothing to hide. – berry120 Aug 13 at 13:57
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    In support of informing them, the question implies different connections to different panel members. Each panel member may be thinking "I need to take a back seat on this one." without realizing all the members have the same problem. – Patricia Shanahan Aug 13 at 17:34

This is heavily influenced by the culture of both the country and industry.

As someone working in a small country with a small industry where everyone knows everyone, your greeting doesn't seem all that odd, even for an interview. When I change jobs, I most likely will have worked together with many/all of the (technical) interviewers. I'm not going to be joking around with them the way I typically would when on breaks, but I'm not going to be more formal towards them than I would be on the job. This seems to be appreciated a lot.

Regarding letting them know, when in doubt, there's no reason not to bring recruitment into the loop. Just send them a concise mail that you already know most or all of the panel and double-check if they took this into account.

Act Professionally

Pretend it's a normal interview, they will too. It's their jobs to get to know you as an employee and build a professional relationship. Whether they know you or not, they have to treat you like every other candidate who may apply.

It's just like any other interview. Prepare, behave and act like it's a normal interview, which it should be. If you act like they're your friends, then you're going to have a disadvantage against other candidates, as you give the impression that you are not going to have, or pursue, a professional relationship with your potential future colleagues.

Potentially afterwards, you have more follow up power as you will have more points of contact (if not specified otherwise).

As some of the others have mentioned, just act like you would in any other interview and don't make a big deal of the fact you know them.

I would check the application and ensure there's nothing in the terms and conditions about knowing anyone from the organisation and as Kozaky has mentioned you may want to play it safe and let the recruiters know in advance. I've filled in an application form in the past where it has asked me state if I know or if i'm related to anyone in the organisation.

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