You probably already know company officials will do a little online digging about you when they're considering you for a job. But did you also know you should do the same?
"When you're dedicating your all-important career to a potential new boss, you should go a step further and become a virtual sleuth, just as the company is carefully vetting you," says Lynn Taylor, author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job." You get one chance to do this you and should ensure you're making a wise career move."
Learning as much as you can about the hiring manger is as important as researching the company, says Anita S. Attridge, is a certified Five O’Clock Club career coach, mentor and organization development consultant with corporate and non-profit experience. Consider it an exercise in due diligence—not online stalking. "Business is about trust, so before joining forces, both sides want to mitigate risk. A thorough Google search is one more tool to help you achieve that," says Taylor.
The first step in beginning online research about the hiring manager, in many cases, will be to first figure out who the hiring manager is, because it's not always clear. This will require some sleuth work, which can involve calling the company's receptionist, doing a Google search or using LinkedIn.
Once you've determined the hiring manager's name you can begin your online search for more details. Look for information from news outlets, social media, organizations, and/or the public sources. But as Abraham Lincoln once said, "You can't believe everything you read on the Internet." Keep in mind it will be up to you to sift between fact and fiction, says Taylor.
While you should focus your efforts on the hiring manager it may also be wise to gather additional information as well. "You may want to go a step further and Google senior management, depending on the position you're seeking," she says. "Knowing more about the executives gives you a better understanding of the "face of the company."
Your goals for this search should be multifaceted.
First you want to make sure this company is truly a place you want to work.
- Is this the person I think they are?
- Are there any red flags I should know of?
Sometimes your search may reveal negative information. For example, if you discover your hiring manager has recently been named in a class action suit filed by former employees-you may decide to skip the interview, says Taylor.
A second goal of your search for information is to find common ground between yourself and the interviewer.
"Learning as much as you can about the hiring manger is as important as researching the company," says Attridge. "Use your LinkedIn network to identify contacts who may know the hiring manager. Then, contact the person to learn more about the hiring manager. The more you know about the hiring manager, the better prepared you will be for the interview."
Seek common threads to connect you, she says. "For example, you may have both worked for the same company or attended the same school," says Attridge. "The commonalities you share, when discussed, help to build a stronger relationship with the hiring manager." And hitting it off with the hiring manager may just make it more likely that you'll get the job.
Consider how this might work in practice, says Attridge:
Jenni is interviewing for a Marketing Director position and her online search reveals that she and the hiring manager both worked for XYZ company. During the interview Jenni mentions the high expectations the XYZ company has for its people and what she accomplished there. Had she not known that the hiring manager had worked at the XYZ company, she probably would not have emphasized the work she did there. Since the hiring manager had worked there, he has a better understanding of the quality of work Jenni did.
Keep in mind, the purpose of an interview is not only to make sure you're qualified to do the job, but also that you're compatible with the company's culture. "When you can discuss your commonalities, the hiring manager also has a better perspective about how you would 'fit' into the organization," says Attridge.
Conducting online research prior to the interview can also make you feel more confident, prepared and consequently relaxed. "As an interviewee, you are at an advantage when you know something about the person with whom you are meeting," says Attridge.