I am a software developer, and am currently looking for work (preferably looking to move into a Business Analyst role, but willing to consider further roles in software development), as I have recently finished a contract. Ideally, I'm looking to move into a permanent role, as I've been moving around quite a lot with various contracts, and have been settled where I'm currently living for around two years- I don't really want to have to move again now.

A good mate of mine who lives & works in the area (also a Software Developer), has just handed in his notice at his current employer, and has accepted an offer from another company to start in a couple of months' time.

Earlier today, I was contacted by a recruiter regarding a role at the company that my mate has just handed his notice in for- given that I am well aware of the reasons why he's leaving (in his words- unreasonable pressure, unrealistic deadlines, given more responsibility than he wanted, and felt that concerns he had raised regarding security issues around the product they were developing were not taken seriously/ given due consideration), I am a little bit cautious about applying/ being put forward to them by the recruiter.

He has also mentioned, that a number of other people have recently left the company- due to the same reasons that he's leaving.

That being said, since I currently don't have any work, I do need to find a job.

I am aware that I have quite a different personality & approach to work than my mate does- he would have a naturally more anxious disposition than I do, and I don't think that I would necessarily have the same struggles he did at that company because of that.

However, I am aware that he is/ has regularly been asked to work overtime (mostly weekends, but was recently asked to come into the office on day on which he had already booked annual leave- and he did end up going in).

While this is something I feel I would be more firm about than he has been, and would make it clear from day one that I am not going to work any and all overt time at their beck & call, I wouldn't mind doing the over time on occasion (i.e. when I have nothing planned of an evening/ weekend), and if I can get the time off in lieu (time is more important to me than the money). I get the impression that my mate has allowed himself to be guilted into doing so much over time by people higher up- not necessarily his manager, but probably his manager's managers.

So given that I know a bit about the culture of the company- that it is not the best, and am well aware of the likely pressures that would come with taking up a position there, my question is:

Should I raise my concerns about these issues at interview, and if so, how?

I am not under any false pretences that those pressures & issues won't be there if I take the position, just because I am naturally a less anxious person than my mate is, but naturally, my approach would be to go ahead with the application, and then make an informed decision on whether to take the position if they offer it to me after the interview (assuming I get one).

I hold the opinion that there is no harm in interviewing somewhere, even if I am already aware of some fairly good reasons not to work there- I can always turn down an offer assuming one is made.

I wouldn't have thought that the company will be expecting people they interview to already know a bit about the internal goings-on at the company, and the challenges they are facing (obviously, I don't know anything that's confidential, just know a bit about the culture there).

I guess it's probably best not to let them know that I know someone who currently works there (though they could see that we are connected on LinkedIn if they look at my profile), but should I declare my hand during the interview, by asking questions about the culture/ whether I would be expected to work overtime/ asking about other issues that my mate has mentioned he's faced while working there?


2 Answers 2


It's important to consider the feedback you've received, but it's also important to realize that your friend's experience and yours are potentially going to be very different. Besides the differences you've already noted in your personality versus his, perhaps you'd be working on different projects, with different leaders, for different clients, and so on. Even within the same department or sub-team, it's likely that different people will be more - or less - satisfied on any given day. Maybe your friend had his own struggles with the job, and things like the employer pushing him/her to work overtime were really about him missing deadlines - we simply don't know.

That said, as indicated in the other answer, an interview is a two way street. It's as much about you evaluating the employer - deciding if you're OK with the position, the organization, the team, the subjects you'd be working on, and so on - as it is about the employer evaluating your skills and your fitness for the job.

Given that, you need to consider the same things an employer considers when questioning you. Let's hypothetically turn the tables. Suppose an employer had received feedback from a friend at your last job who told them that you missed an occasional deadline. An employer would likely never say, "I heard from my friend that you're no good with deadlines." Instead, they'd ask you what motivates you, how you handle pressure, or how you balance competing priorities.

When taking your friend's feedback into consideration, you clearly don't want to be direct: "I heard that you make everyone work lots of overtime." Instead, dig deeper and ask questions about what may have motivated them to do so: How do they plan and schedule work? How do they support work/life balance? What sort of project management approaches do they follow?

By doing so, you'll get their side of the story, and you'll give them the opportunity to paint the picture - which gives you the opportunity to evaluate the employer instead of relying on your friend's (potentially irrelevant) experiences to inform your decision.


A job interview is also your opportunity to interview the company. If you have concerns about overtime or any other company policies you should ask during the interview. There is no need to mention your friend's previous experience though, just ask and see what their answers are. If the answers are ultimately unsatisfactory to you, then it is probably not a company you would want to be working for.

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