You just found out that you and your best friend applied for the same job.
This is not an uncommon scenario. Especially when you consider that so many students are graduating with the same major and may have developed close ties during their undergrad years. Chances are not that remote that they’d be applying to the same companies for the same positions.
Let’s face it, you both a need job. You’ve got student loans to pay back, new cars you want to buy, and you’re eager to finally get that nice apartment you’ve had your eye on. The key to it all is the job—the one you both applied to. The one with only one opening.
What should you do?
There are two possible ways to approach this situation. You can tell your friend from the jump that you applied for the same job. Or you can keep your job search and any interviews to yourself.
If you want to keep your friendship, I’d follow the latter scenario and keep the job search private. If you tell your friend from the very beginning, there’s the nagging awkwardness of having to constantly explain why you’ve opted to compete for the exact same job, especially if his or her financial circumstances are more dire than yours. Then again, if mum’s the word and you get caught (the employer somehow spills the beans by telling your friend that he interviewed you), you may have to do some awkward “backpedaling” to save the friendship.
If you told your friend about the job and you are interviewed first, don’t be surprised if your friend grills you about the interview. It’s only natural that he or she will want to gain an advantage by knowing what was asked during the interview. This is a tough one. Refuse and you look like a cad; lie, get caught and you’re a huge cad; talk and you could jeopardize your chances by allowing your friend to become better prepared. This is one scenario that calls for keeping your mouth shut initially.
If one of you lands the job (assuming there’s only one slot open) in favor of the other, it can cause a real rift in the relationshihp. If you’re in a romantic relationship with your competitor, this could signal the end of your romance, so being open about it from the very beginning might be the best course of action in this case.
There’s no easy way out of this one except to face the fact that one of you will have to keep looking for a job while the other becomes gainfully employed. If your friendship is real and solid, it should survive this hurdle.