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I recently interviewed for a company. I liked the company, I think they liked me, they made me an offer but I turned it down (because I had a "better" offer and for personal reasons). We left in good terms (and, maybe, in the future, I could think about re-applying for this company).

Now, one of my previous coworker is looking for a job in the same sector and geographic area where this company was, and I know they are still hiring. Am I in a position to recommend him to this company ? I would like to help him if possible but my questions are :

  • Would it be inappropriate given the circumstances ?
  • Am I taking a risk by doing this (if he doesn't fit there -- given I think he is a good guy but I never followed closely on his work)
  • Is there a possible reward for me here ? (If I were to apply again in the future) ?
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If I was in your position I would just contact your coworker and tell him about the company, maybe give him any hints you think will help him at interview. If they employ the guy and he does really well the possible reward is that if you ever need it he'll recommend you.

I don't think that there is a massive negative to you recommending him, I just don't see that it would especially help his application. They liked you in interview enough to offer you a job, they probably don't know enough about you for your recommendation to carry that much weight.

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Am I in a position to recommend him to this company?

Maybe. As always, that depends.

You can certainly tell your friend what you know about this company, and suggest that he apply. You have some insight into the company, the interview questions, and the hiring practices that could be valuable to your friend.

If you turned down their offer on very friendly and professional terms, you may be in a position to say something like "You know, this job wasn't a fit for me, but I know a great guy who would be perfect for your open position. I highly recommend him."

But only do this if you know you would still be considered friendly by the hiring manager, and if you truly know and could recommend the skills of your friend. If the hiring manager felt spurned by you, your recommendation could easily work against your friend. He may think "Well, I was rejected by vib, if I made an offer to vib's friend, it would likely be rejected as well. I won't bother."

Am I taking a risk by doing this (if he doesn't fit there -- given I think he is a good guy but I never followed closely on his work)

There is likely no risk to you. Still, I would never personally recommend someone unless I knew their work well.

Of course, you want to discuss this with your friend to see if he wants you to help or not.

Is there a possible reward for me here ? (If I were to apply again in the future) ?

That seems unlikely. Still, if your friend gets hired and turns out to be an excellent employee he/she could turn around and recommend you at some point in the future. And the hiring manager might remember that you recommended what turn out to be a great hire.

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Nothing wrong with recommending him.

Company will (and should and MUST) vet him not just take your word and hire him. I once hired simply on the basis of the recommendation of an ex-employee. My decision blew up in my face. I asked the ex-employee what's up. She said that it was my responsibility to vet him and that she had zero responsibility for the fiasco. In the wake of your question, I realize that she was right. I was young, stone cold good looking and stupid back then, now I am just stupid :)

The hire was a good guy but I had learned the hard way as an engineering undergrad that when it comes to team work, I'll take a creep who will hack it over a good guy who can't - I have the option to kill the creep after I no longer need him.

If your co-worker turns out to be a raging incompetent, then your recommendation may backfire on you, so you must be more than say 75% sure that he will work out both in terms of technical ability and cultural fit - Don't underestimate cultural fit. On the other side of the transaction, you are not making new friends if your solidly competent co-worker thinks that you sent him to the antechamber of Hell.

Your question about possible rewards for recommending an individual that works out - that question is company-specific and you'll have to ask them not us.

Keep in mind that the company may simply go through the next candidate on the list rather than go through another candidate search, especially if the next best candidate is a thoroughly viable candidate. Personally, unless your co-worker is outstanding in some way that's valuable to us, I'd rather take the easy way out and go for the next candidate.

Make sure that you get your co-worker's permission to recommend him before you make a move in the direction of recommending him.

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