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I've been working at my current job for 6 months. I was hired on as one of three temps to work through the rest of the year.

However management has decided to open up a full-time position that I plan on applying for. I have a pretty good idea of who will be on the hiring team, and I want to know if it is appropriate to ask them for tips on the hiring process.

One reason I can think of against it is that one of the other temps is also planning on applying, and it would be unfair to give me tips that he won't know about.

I've looked at this question for pointers on the interview process itself, but I want to clarify how it would affect me if I asked other people in the department for help.

Edit: In case it is relevant, I'm a software developer.

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Of course it's appropriate. Some companies even give you documents on how to prepare for their interviews, because they would like to interview the candidates who are best prepared.

You should ask for information on the process or how to best prepare for the interview. Things you may want to learn:

  • number of interviewers
  • materials available (open internet, whiteboard, IDE...)
  • length of each interview
  • types of technical questions covered (coding, architecting, business)
  • technical topics covered (sorting, searching, on and on)

Things you will not want to learn:

  • "Should I be on time or try to be early?"
  • "Do you have any tips?"
  • "Are we going to be talking about salary today?"
  • "Will there be soft, HR-type questions?" (every conversation is one. Don't imply you need index cards to talk about your greatest weakness.)
  • "How should I dress?" (if you've never been to the company, maybe ok.)

It's nonsense to suggest that this is unfair. (Reminder: Nothing in life is fair.) You should not be giving them instruction on what is and isn't fair. Excluding race, gender and a few other things, the hiring manager is the sole decider of what is fair and will tell you what s/he feels is appropriate. You should not worry about what you will learn and the other temp won't. This is also a good time to remind that jobs are won on network and especially as an engineer it's better to stop seeing this as incongruous with proper job-landing sooner than later.

Your interviewer and you have a mutual interest in you giving the best interview possible. This should be your framing when asking these questions. e.g., asking for "tips" is merely going to say "so are there any mistakes in your interview and how do I skirt around them?" This is something you ask someone else who had to deal with their snobbish, gnarly interviewer; not the interviewer him/herself.

For the record, if I were in your position, and assuming that I'm secure about my job prospects either way, I would freely discuss the interview with the other temp. One, it increase both of your chances of getting the job at all. Two, it's just good business. It's a stronger connection you'll have going forward, and better to form a strong connection and miss certain opportunities (decide whether this is one) than form a dubious one.

  • And going to practice interviews if you company is large enough to need to have a formal in house training course that needs dummy candidates – Pepone Oct 9 '14 at 22:11
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Rather than asking them specifically for "tips", which might sound like you're asking for special treatment, why not ask someone of the same level for a practice interview? I've done this (on both sides of the table) and found it an invaluable way of seeing the sort of questions and level of answers required.

  • The answer to your rhetorical question is simply, "to get more advice." – user1084 Oct 9 '14 at 9:26
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    It was less of a rhetorical question, more of a suggestion. A mock interview will give more advice & experience than simply a list of tips. – TrueDub Oct 9 '14 at 9:28
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Ask them for "tips" but make it a point to say that you don't want to ask for anything that will give you an unfair edge. In other words, you want the same kind of info hat the interviewers would disclose to anybody who asks as a matter of due diligence in preparation for the interviews..

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    This answer is actually pretty vacuous. Why on earth do they need to reminded not to give you an unfair advantage? Why do they need this reminder? If anything it's explicitly showing that they could give you an unfair advantage which makes asking in the first place seem all the more dubious. If there was a personality risk to asking in the first case I don't at all see how the caveat changes anything. It's like "no offense, but." – user1084 Oct 9 '14 at 9:25
  • @djechlin Asking without giving the caveat could create the impression that I am looking for an unfair advantage, precisely the impression that I am trying to avoid. When I prep for an interview, I do ask what topics I am to be be quizzed on if they don't volunteer the info, with the expectation that they will provide the same info to anyone who asks. In this case, the OP might want to stress that he is not looking for an unfair advantage since the OP personally knows the potential interviewers. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 9 '14 at 11:16
  • @djechlin The stressing is harmless, may be overkill and as you disdainfully refer to it, may be vacuous. But a bit of caution doesn't hurt, even if it may be unnecessary. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 9 '14 at 11:16
  • I do actually think it's counterproductive. Saying "Hey can I borrow $100? But only if it's convenient for you" does not actually give the impression that you're an upright guy, it says you know you are asking for something inconvenient but are doing it anyway. If you think it's unfair to ask then don't do it. If you think it's fair then treat them like they know your question is fair. Most importantly, ask a fair question! – user1084 Oct 9 '14 at 17:31

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