How to approach applying for a job at a company owned by a friend?

Soru

A friend of mine is the CEO of his own small business. We’re not very close friends, but we know each other well enough to have visited each other’s houses for dinner and drinks a few times.

His business is advertising a role which interests me. I have suitable skills for this role but limited experience, so it’s likely to get better candidates than I – at least on paper. It is reporting to one of his subordinates, and I have no idea how much (if any) input my friend might have into the recruiting process.

I would like to apply for this job but I don’t want to cause problems for my friend, nor to have our friendship unduly influence the recruiting process. I have not yet spoken to my friend about it because doing so would certainly result in the latter outcome.

They work in quite a small office. There is a strong chance that, were I to manage to get to the interview stage anonymously, my friend would see me when I arrived. But I also know he’s out of the office a lot.

How should I proceed? I am happy to consider that “not proceeding” may be the best course of action here, especially given that I may well not get the job.