Background: I'm an entry-level developer (college grad). I found a company that I am very interested in working for and I used my network to send them my resume (without knowing if they had any available positions that would fit my skills or not). They were interested, and I spoke on the phone with someone from their HR department, but the HR rep didn't really know details about what techie stuff I'd be doing.

Then, they contacted me about scheduling an face-to-face interview, and included a job title for my position, which is a bit different than my skills. (The job description for that job title was posted on their website.)

In other words, they saw my resume first and apparently liked the skills I had there, but they are officially interviewing me for a different type of position which I'm not really that qualified for (but I'm confident I could pick it up quickly on the job.) I realize that the position might not be exactly as it was in the job description, and I hope to find out more at the interview about what exactly I'd be doing on a daily basis.

Question: The HR rep told me the names of the interviewers, and I'm acquainted with one of them. However, I'm meeting with him last. Is it considered inappropriate to call my acquaintance in advance, to find out what skills they're looking for most? (That way I can prepare better for my meetings with the first few interviewers?)

  • Best not to show even a hint of irregularity. When you get to the final interview say hello but don't use any connection between you two to your advantage.
    – Snowlockk
    Jun 9, 2017 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


No, it is not appropriate. I am doing technical interviews, and such a call would is not appropriate. I also find contact attempts on linkedin etc. not appropriate.

If you ask, ask trough HR. The rule for us is that any communication to the applicant goes trough HR.


If this person was your referral to the company, they should recuse themselves from the interview, as they likely have a vested interest in you being hired (referral bonus). If they were to recuse themselves, there is nothing wrong with mining your referral for information which will be to your advantage. They should not give you (nor should you ask for or accept) company confidential information, such as a preview of interview/technical questions, however general information such as the skills, technologies, and techniques to be familiar with are reasonable.

If the person hasn't recused themselves or isn't a close acquaintance/referrer, it's best not to ask for any kind of preferential treatment. When meeting with them, I would acknowledge your prior acquaintance, but would not be especially familiar. I would let the interviewer set the level of familiarity/formality.

For my current job, my referrer gave me a fair amount of insight as to what to be familiar with, and several resources for high level overview of concepts of which I was unfamiliar. A lot of it was never brought up in the interview (but gave me a jump-start when onboarding). The few things that were brought up in the interview were high level, and I acknowledged that I didn't have in-depth knowledge but a passing familiarity and confidence that it was similar to past experience and within my capability to master.

  • This person wasn't my referral, but good point though
    – user70057
    Jun 9, 2017 at 17:17
  • I didn't think so from the question, but it's an important piece of the algebra of acceptability.
    – Chris G
    Jun 9, 2017 at 18:30

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