Ok, I admit it.  I obtained a job because I knew someone.

I was 19, with one year of college in the books and still undeclared and not majoring in anything particular.  My best friend's mom knew that I had clerical experience and was a good kid.  She recommended that I apply for a unit secretary position.  I applied and was given an opportunity to interview. 

A week before the interview my friend's mom cornered me and asked if I was excited about my interview?  I should have recognized that this was a trick question.  But, I was young and naive.  I said yes but not wholeheartedly, since I was nervous.  Instantly she snapped at me saying that you better not mess up this opportunity.  I didn't have to ask why.  She quickly emphasized that her reputation was in jeopardy since she referred me.  I realized that I had to make a good impression, not strictly for myself but also for the person who referred me.

If someone recommends you apply for a position, this doesn't mean the employer is a good fit for you.  Consider if the person referring you is a good employee by asking them the following questions.

  • How long have you worked at your current employer? 
  • Why do you work at your current employer?
  • What is your overall impression of your employer?

If you can feel passionate enthusiasm oozing from their words and body language, then it probably would be a great place to work.  If not, consider the source and ask someone else or go to glassdoor.com and verify if other employees have shared the same comments.

If you are granted an opportunity to interview, keep in mind that during the interview it is not necessary to mention who referred you.  The recruiter and hiring manager already know, since the person who referred you contacted them directly.

Overall a referral should not be selfishly used as an expectation for an immediate job offer.  A referral is solely an introduction to the company.  You should rely on your skills, professionalism and personality as means to get the job.