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I am an undergrad in the final year of my Engineering program. I recently appeared for an interview for an internship. I couldn't get through the interview as I didn't perform up to the mark in some rounds. But a couple of days later, I got a notification from the same company that I was selected.

Turns out, someone I knew recommended me for that position. I didn't know this until recently from a trusted source. A lot of my peers have also applied for the same position but couldn't get the offer because they hadn't the chance that I had.

The internship hasn't yet started. I feel terribly bad because the reason for accepting me into the company was only due to the recommendation. I put in a lot of sincere effort preparing for the interview and the job. Apparently, it wasn't enough.

Now, I want to let go of the opportunity for now and try at other companies. Is this the correct decision?

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    You said "I couldn't get through the interview", but maybe you didn't do as bad as you thought? What did they actually say after that interview? – Brandin May 7 '16 at 10:05
  • The next day, a list of candidates who were selected for the same opportunity was released and I didn't make it into the list. – user161151 May 7 '16 at 10:07
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    It could have been that one of those on the list dropped out for some reason, and they selected you as a replacement. The fact that you were recommended might have been in your favor in this regard. I don't understand why you want to turn it down just for this reason. Also, notice you said "I want to let go of the opportunity for now". Well, generally in this situation you have to take it or leave it. – Brandin May 7 '16 at 10:15
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    I think it's likely someone dropped out. It's not like they're going to call back one of the ones on the list and say "just kidding". On the other hand, you weren't actually "rejected", but rather you simply weren't included on the list. Now that there's an opening, why not pick you? Is there some other reason you don't want to take it? – Brandin May 7 '16 at 10:46
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    "I feel terribly bad because the reason for accepting me into the company was only due to the recommendation." Please don't. Someone vouched for you and recommended you be hired. That's a powerful piece of information for a hiring manager and carries much more weight than a single interview that you may or may not have flubbed. // I'm voting to close because the question is poorly defined and would need some work to make it on-topic. Ping me on chat if you want to improve it. – Lilienthal May 7 '16 at 21:41
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Now, I want to let go of the opportunity for now and try at other companies. Is this the correct decision?

If you want to work at this company, it would be foolish to turn down the opportunity to intern there.

It never matters how you get there, once you are hired you have a chance to learn, to excel, and to succeed.

When I am the hiring manager, I welcome internal referrals. Often, they produce the best employee. I always apply extra weight to the opinion of a trusted employee very highly. They know the candidate for more completely that I can know them during a 1-hour interview. And internal referrals usually won't recommend someone they feel would reflect badly on themselves.

Don't worry about what happened previously. If you want to work there, accept the offer. Then prove that your friend was right to refer you by working hard and demonstrating your talent.

  • One thing I don't understand is why does it not matter how I got there? Won't managers know how I performed in the interview and value me according to that(more or less like how teachers value students with good grades or knowledge)? – user161151 May 7 '16 at 17:27
  • Depending on the size of the company, no one you work with will know or care how you did in your interview. – dyeje May 8 '16 at 17:29
  • @user161151 recruiters mostly track the ones who did wel for future reference, unless you get on a blacklist this is true most of the time – Raoul Mensink May 10 '16 at 12:43
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You can still accept the opportunity without feeling bad. There have been at least two performance evaluations going on:

a) From the company during the regular application (where you didn't get a full score)

b) The person who recommended you surely also has seen your work and was convinced that you are qualified for this internship.

If the person who recommended you wasn't doing it just because you are his nephew, then you should go for it!

  • You really made a good point. – user161151 May 7 '16 at 10:54
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Let's say I interviewed you. And while you didn't pass the exact requirements that were set, I found that I had a very good impression of you. I know what makes someone good at my job, and I can look past formal requirements. So I might recommend you even though you didn't pass the test. Or I might say that I have a very, very bad feeling about you, even though you passed that test.

If I recommended you even though you didn't pass a test, then you can 100% assume that you have a legal and ethical right to get that position.

"Does not including in the final list which is available for the candidates mean that I am rejected? " Not at all. If a company has three positions and you are the fourth best then you are not on the list, but you are not rejected. The company has likely split the candidates into "good enough" and "not good enough". If you were "not good enough" you would be rejected, and you wouldn't be asked to join. If the company finds only two who are "good enough" then they don't hire three. You were on the list of the "good enoughs" and close to the top. Close enough that they called you when someone dropped out.

On the other hand, I would strongly recommend that once you join the company, you keep your feelings about not being good enough to yourself. It would make me very nervous about you if I heard that. As an employer, you want someone who is confident that they can do the job. If you think you are not good enough to deserve the job, I would fear that you would give up on the smallest problem.

  • +1 It might help the OP even more if you'd briefly explain why you'd feel nervous about self-critical comments :-) – MY_G May 9 '16 at 6:11
  • I agree. This is an internship, not a senior position. In my field of work, knowledge has to be carefully balanced against willingness to learn and expand your skillset. While you may not be up to snuff on the technical end, the hiring parties may have picked up on your potential. I wouldn't sweat feeling like you didn't deserve it. If someone recommended you, I would take that as a sign of faith that you can perform the job adequately. – jaichele May 9 '16 at 16:50
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As other people mentioned it doesn't matter how you got there, some chances come once and if you let them go, you will for your rest of your life say "If I only took that opportunity, everything would be different now".

In my opinion, accept the offer, get the job, work hard and then you will have more experience and more rich CV to apply for other jobs without recommendations.

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If everybody rejected job offers because they believed that a recommendation helped get them a position then:

  • there would be no reason for asking for references from finalists
  • there would be no reason to ask current employees to recommend people, or to offer a bonus if that person accepts the job.
  • there would be no reason to ask for the current interns to provide names and contact info for potential candidates for next year.
  • there would be no reason for anybody to ever network.
  • there would be no reason for sites such as LinkedIn.

The company decided that you met the criteria. Some did it by their experience and interview. Some needed the boost of the recommendation. It is likely that one of the initial list got multiple offers and picked one that paid better, was closer to home, or sounded more interesting...

...Heck they could have asked us last week how to decide between two internship offers.

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