One of my close friends has asked me to recommend someone for a position (posted online) in my company.

While I do not know that person, his CV states that he has many of the right qualifications, and my company also has a referral policy. Also, I have enough trust in my friend (as well as confidence in his technical knowledge) to believe that the person is qualified. I'm thinking of inviting this individual for a coffee and talking to them before I submit the referral, just so I'm more comfortable about it.

So my question is: is this a normal thing to ask? Am I worrying too much? I feel like in the worst case scenario, he will not pass the interview and that would be the end of it. But I wanted to ask for the insights of the community.

3 Answers 3


This is a fairly normal occurrence - people will often send their friends a posted position that might be a good fit for them, in the hopes that the friend will do the same if a similar opportunity occurs in the future.

Typically in these cases, you might just pass their name and resume to your boss, rather than really recommending them:

A friend forwarded John's resume to me for the open [X] position - he appears to have the qualifications we're looking for, but I've never worked with him, so I can't speak to his fit for the job.

There are potential downsides - if he comes to the interview extremely unprepared, or an obvious bad fit, then there may be people who will hold that against you, even if you explicitly stated "I can't speak to his fit". As a result, having coffee with the candidate before forwarding their resume is a great idea, to ensure you screen out someone who might reflect badly upon you.


It isn't unusual, especially with referral bonuses, to recommend people you only have a passing knowledge about.

As long as your hiring process still does a good job vetting people during the interview process you should be fine.

If it bothers you put a caveat that you are referring this person based on your good friends recommendation that you trust.

Most places these days are desperate for good candidates and will pay more than 10x what any referral bonus you might receive to a recruiter who wouldn't know a good programmer from a hole in the wall.


Depending on company policy, you can get awarded for referring a qualified candidate who subsequently gets hired.

Yes, it's a good idea to meet the candidate for coffee and quickly go over his qualifications and "fit" into your company so you can at least claim that you "know" him. If the candidate passes your muster, then you can forward the candidate's resume to HR for a more thoroughjob candidacy review process.

I made the mistake of hiring a friend of a friend based solely on the friend's recommendation. I haven't repeated that mistake in 30 years.

  • Wow, it sounds like the experience in the last paragraph really stung. But I notice you said "hiring", and not referred for an interview. Do you think that you would have known not to hire the person had you interviewed them? Apr 27, 2015 at 21:51
  • Not sure. I let myself be blinded by the fact that I had acquired the knowledge I needed to meet my responsibilities on the job, where the scope of my responsibilities was pretty much how I defined them since we were in a startup situation. I was oblivious to the fact that people's minds may freeze or go into panic mode in the face of ignorance and that ability to think clearly while under pressure is not something that most people will typically strive for when there are easier jobs around. A few questions on "how would you solve..." would filter out those who go into meltdown :) Apr 27, 2015 at 22:03
  • Ah, that's interesting. I'll be honest, we are not in the same situation (by no means a startup). Because of the discussion on this Q/A so far, I feel a little more comfortable about it. Apr 27, 2015 at 22:50

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