Quick Job Interview Tip: Don’t be Afraid to Research the Person Interviewing You

March 24, 2016



Here’s a great tip from Rosanna Palermo, one of Argentus’ senior recruiters: if you’re going for a job interview, don’t be afraid to research the individual who’s going to be interviewing you. It’s very common for Argentus’ recruiters (and any hiring experts, really) to advise candidates to do extensive research before any job interview about the company they’re interviewing with: what are the company’s major product lines or services? What’s their history? What’s their growth plan? How about company culture?

Solid research into these questions is a must if you want to be taken seriously at any job interview. It shows you’ve done your homework, that you’re committed to making an impact and not just filling a seat. And pretty much every candidate recognizes the importance of this nuts-and-bolts knowledge for any job interview. So why are so many candidates hesitant to do some research on the particular individual interviewing them, to find points of commonality with the goal of building a rapport and making the interview go even smoother?

Surprisingly often, candidates going on interviews are surprised when we suggest that they find the hiring manager or HR representative on LinkedIn and find out about their career progression as background research. Some of these candidates ask whether such a search is nosy or stalkerish – many of them nervous about the fact that LinkedIn shows you who has viewed your profile, so that the hiring manager will see that they’ve done this search.

But it’s absolutely not nosy. It’s 2016, and looking up a hiring manager on LinkedIn before a job interview is simply part of the process of becoming informed about a position. It’s a different story if a candidate looks up a hiring manager on Facebook or another social media platform, but LinkedIn is a professional network and – guess what – a job interview is the formation of a professional contact. You’re well within the bounds of appropriate behaviour to look up a hiring manager on LinkedIn: maybe you went to the same university, had the same major, or (as is surprisingly common) have worked at the same company in the past!

You’re helping to educate yourself about the professional experiences you and the hiring manager might have shared, making it easier for you to build a rapport and have a productive meeting as people beyond “resume: meet job description.” A hiring manager is going to be looking you up on social media, so it’s part of your due diligence to find out a modicum of information about their professional background as well. We’ve heard from several clients who were impressed that a candidate went to the effort of researching their professional background. It shows an eagerness to get at the “context” of a job interview, beyond the “text” of how you fit a job description.

Just to pivot slightly: once in a blue moon, a client will mention to us that a candidate looked them up on LinkedIn before a job interview as if that’s a slightly odd or inappropriate thing to do. But it isn’t. Again, it’s 2016, and there’s no reason for a candidate not to do everything they can to educate themselves about the professional background of a person who might be hiring them. It’s just common sense.

(Finally, a quick story from the annals: Several years ago, one of our clients was hiring a Senior Director of Manufacturing for a multinational company. The candidate we submitted was in the process of selling his house. A few days after holding his open house, the candidate went into the interview and was surprised to say the least when the hiring manager brought up specifics about his decor. Apparently the hiring manager had visited the candidate’s open house, unbeknownst to the candidate, to see if he could learn anything about the candidate prior to the interview. Now there’s due diligence. Maybe more than is due. Actually, definitely more than is due.) 

Thanks very much to Rosanna for the advice! logo_icon

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