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At an interview I went on it turned out I was an acquaintance of the hiring manager, although we aren't close enough to be considered friends by any means. Our interview went well, and he said he wanted to hire me because I would be a good fit for the ten person team he is assembling. There is one technical area in which I'm not very knowledgeable, but we both think it's something I can pick up reasonably quickly.

However, after several days passed, instead of sendng a job offer, he told me I would have to come in for a second interview. He said I'll be meeting with his boss and the task lead who would be between him and me. I'm apprehensive about this, as I sense that since his superiors know that he and I are acquaintances, they don't trust his judgement in choosing me for this slot.

How can I best prepare for this interview? Should I try to quickly study up on the technical area I'm unfamiliar with? Should I just relax and let whatever will happen, happen? Should I ask him if there is anything I should know about the organization's background and political environment?

  • Is the technical area really critical for the team's performance? If so, you can have a quick brush-up (it won't hurt) to estimate just how much you don't know. I'd be wary of pushing the hiring manager to reveal the dark deep secrets of corporate politics. As for relaxing, this goes without saying: stress is your enemy. – Deer Hunter May 28 '13 at 6:00
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    It strikes me that if the two of you knew each other, the company may have felt (rightly or wrongly) that they needed a second interview so that other people could form an "objective" opinion about you. They may wish to have your hiring perceived as merit-based rather than based on acquaintance, in order to avoid possible grumblings by existing staff: "Oh, he was only hired because he knew the hiring manager." If this is the case, the second interview is a good thing: They're trying to make sure you start off on the right foot. – user1602 May 28 '13 at 12:15
  • While it can't hurt to brush up on an unfamiliar technical area that you know is desired for the position, I certainly wouldn't try to pass myself off as having any sort of experience in that area. If you try to pretend that you have experience then the odds are pretty high that you'll only make yourself look bad because what might sound like a reasonable answer to you will remind the interviewer of the idjit who whose work always needed to be redone because they didn't know the "better" ways of doing that task. That's why they asked the question. – Dunk May 28 '13 at 20:11
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There is no special preparation you can do that will prepare you for all possibilities. Rather than over-thinking it, get a good night's sleep, look over whatever notes you have on the company/position again, and go in with a smile.

I don't know why you need to have a second interview, but assuming it's because the company is wary of him hiring an acquaintance is taking a leap you probably shouldn't. Here are some other reasons you may need a second interview.

  1. The interview is a formality but is required due to company rules/regulations
  2. The company wants you, but the manager you'd be placed with has veto power and wants to meet you
  3. To improve your image of him, the hiring manager may have exaggerated his ability to make the hiring decision in this case
  4. The hiring manager was uncomfortable giving you honest feedback because you know each other and decided to pass the buck to someone else to deliver the bad news

Rather than stressing about what every possibility is, it's probably better just to take it as it comes, and hope it ends well.

  • I have definitely had 2nd interviews which are in your (1) category where it was very obvious the HR person was going to make me an offer immediately following some questions which were asked as a formality. – enderland May 28 '13 at 11:41
  • +1: Often the second-level manager does a smell test for new hires before the final decision. – kevin cline May 28 '13 at 19:35
  • "...assuming it's because the company is wary of him hiring an acquaintance is taking a leap you probably shouldn't." The hiring manager told me that was the case. – GreenMatt Jun 13 '13 at 15:18

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