prepare for your next interview

3 Tools That Will Help You Totally Impress Your Interviewer

Whether it’s your first or fifteenth job interview, it’s good practice to do some research beforehand. That includes knowing any recent news about the company, like product releases, stock performance, upcoming releases, etc., to prove to your interviewer that you’re up-to-date and truly interested in the position.

But a really impressive job seeker will take this one step further and actually research the person who will be administering the interview. Creating rapport is vital to a successful interview, and if you’re armed with a few basic facts about the person on the other end of the phone (or other side of the conference table) you’ll be a step ahead of your competition.

Here are three tools to help you research your interviewer:

1. LinkedIn

This should be fairly obvious, but not everyone uses the network as much — or as well — as they could. As soon as you know the name of the person interviewing you (which most companies will tell you a few days in advance), the first thing you should do is look him or her up on LinkedIn.

This network will give you a better understanding of what the interviewer’s job is so you know how you’d relate to him in your potential position. Will you be his assistant, peer, or on a different team altogether?

Look at her past employment, as well as her education. At the end of the interview, when she asks, “So do you have any questions for me?” you’ll be ready to respond with something like, “What made you decide to move from Company A to Company B?” She’ll be impressed that you know her history, and you’ll get a better idea of how your interviewer feels about the company.

2. Newsle

Taking that one step further, it would be even better if you knew what other people had to say about this person. LinkedIn can be selective and squeaky clean at times, as you decide what is posted about you. But Newsle, a platform that lets you know when people make the news, will show you instances where your interviewer was mentioned in an online publication.

Maybe he was quoted in an industry blog; maybe he made a huge deal and helped his company expand into a new market. Whatever the case may be, look for opportunities to casually slip this knowledge into the conversation, especially if it directly relates to the company you’re applying for.

(On the other end of the spectrum, since the person doesn’t have as much control over what other people say about him, your interviewer could have ended up in the news for a less than honorable reason; steer clear of discussing stories like this.)

If your interviewer hasn’t made any news lately, follow someone higher up in the company; at this point in the job-hunting process, any and all knowledge will do you good. (Further reading: Check out even more ways to use Newsle in your job hunt.)

3. LiveFyre/Disqus

Moving away from more formal methods, you can see which blogs your interviewer reads — and whether you share interests — by peeking at her LiveFyre and Disqus profiles. These two popular comment plug-ins allow readers to log in with a social network of their choice to comment on blog posts. Because all their comments are compiled together, you can see everything they’ve commented on. Brilliant, right?

For extra brownie points, comment on some (not all — that would be overkill) of the same posts your interviewer has commented on, both before and after the interview. If she sees your name out there in the wild, she might recognize it and be more likely to consider you for the job, especially if you comment on industry-relevant blogs.

A word of caution

With all of this information about perfect strangers readily available on the internet, it is all too easy to cross the line between “dedicated & passionate” and become a “creepy stalker.”

If you happen to discover that your sister’s hairdresser is Foursquare friends with your interviewer’s cousin, and you manage to find a way to look at all of your interviewer’s check-ins, don’t say something like “I noticed you were at my favorite bar three weeks ago!”

And do not, I repeat, DO NOT add your interviewer on Facebook. It might be appropriate and even smart to follow him on Twitter (especially if his account is unlocked), but let’s keep things professional.

What other stealth methods do you use to research your interviewer?

Disclaimer: Part of the reason I know about the awesomeness of Newsle is because I work for a company of which Newsle is a client.

Adam Britten is a Master of Digital Marketing Student at Hult International Business School in San Francisco. Read more about him at AdamBritten.com or chat with him on Twitter @AdamBritten.

36 comments

  1. Well, one thing that I would suggest is that one not refer to their interviewer as “he.” As a staffing representative, I have seen a number of applicants wrote their cover letters and referred to management as “he,” which nearly always lost them the job. Increasingly, women are going into management. At most of the companies I worked with, they paid a lot of attention to candidates that they thought might have problems with female managers. Be careful about gendered assumptions.

    • Thewoodenboy

      That is unfortunate to jump to conclusions that the applicant has problems with authority held by females by merely choosing to keep things simple by using traditional English in written communications. It is truly unfortunate that it is those in positions to make hiring decision who happen to have this axe to grind that are really the oness making the baseless assumptions.

      • kmf242s

        It is unfortunate that interviewers sometimes make assumptions and judgments prior to getting facts, however it’s virtually impossible not to. We all make initial assessments of a candidate as we look through resumes and applications; if not, interviewers would spend fruitless hours screening every (qualified and unqualified) candidate they come across. I think krista lin is simply making the point that you should try to avoid a seemingly simple mistake that can have major ramifications on how you’re viewed by employers.

  2. Thanks for sharing this article. This is very useful information. It is always required to know about the company before going for the interview. LinkedIn is good and definitely going to use other tools.

  3. You’d be surprised how many people don’t do their research before an interview. Being able to work in anything, whether it be the college they attended or a paper he or she published will really help you stand out.

  4. Oh, Disqus, I need to try that one! Newsle is a great idea, setting that one up right now. Try reachable.com as well to research your expanded network on LinkedIn. it’s amazing

  5. On LinkedIn you can also join some of the same groups as your interviewer and comment on any posts they’ve made there.

    Also on LinkedIn, I’ve found the recommendations – both given and received – useful in understanding more about the person’s qualities and preferences. Obviously for those they’ve received, you can see what their strong points might be which indicate what they value. For those they’ve given, you can see what they value in others as well as their communication style (formal, informal, succinct or in-depth, etc.)

    With one interviewer, their recommendations told me that they were responsible for bringing a completely new sales process into the organization – I studied up on that process before I talked with him.

    I’ll try the others you’ve mentioned as well – thank you!

  6. deadhedge

    Indicating that you looked the interview up on LinkedIn by referencing their past history and why they changed jobs since to be very very very stalker-ish.

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  8. JoelRigonan

    Practicing interview questions and planning a strategic approach for your interview is the best way to impress your interviewer. Impress your interviewer in a way that you are courting his or her impressions. In every interview, your hiring managers will always be looking if your nervous, stiff, conscious, boastful, etc.

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