5 Tips for Learning About an Interviewer Before You Meet Them

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Ques­tion: I was work­ing with my men­tor on inter­view prep for a new job, and they asked what I knew about the hir­ing I’d be meet­ing. How am I sup­posed to know the inter­view­er before I meet them?

Answer: It sounds like you have a smart men­tor! Yes, you should know about the inter­view­er, the com­pa­ny, the job and the indus­try before you even enter the job inter­view. 

Let’s look at how to gath­er intel so you’re pre­pared and ready to meet the inter­view­er and posi­tion your­self well:

1. Research the Company. 

Look at the com­pa­ny’s web­site and social media pages (include LinkedIn, Face­book and Insta­gram com­pa­ny pro­files). You’ll get a view of what the com­pa­ny pro­motes, the and indus­try it is in and and prod­ucts it is high­light­ing.

Make a list: Write down any red flags or trou­bling infor­ma­tion you find. This will help you decide whether the inter­view still makes sense to pur­sue, or if you just need clar­i­fi­ca­tion that you can get in the con­ver­sa­tion. Also, list out areas where your val­ues specif­i­cal­ly align with what the com­pa­ny believes and is pur­su­ing. Final­ly, add to the list ques­tions that arise for you as you’re doing this research.

2. Research the Interviewer. 

Look at their LinkedIn and in par­tic­u­lar review their About and Expe­ri­ence sling with any rec­om­men­da­tions they’ve received. What do you learn about how this per­son has grown their career, what they’re pas­sion­ate about and where they’re head­ed? 

In review­ing their rec­om­men­da­tions, do you get a glimpse into the inter­view­er’s per­son­al­i­ty? For exam­ple, if sev­er­al peo­ple describe them as “fun, upbeat and out­go­ing,” that can give you a sense of how they might behave when you meet them.

Next, see whether the inter­view­er has any oth­er pub­lic online pro­files. A Google search can show you whether they’re active on Insta­gram, Twit­ter, Medi­um, etc., and if the accounts are pub­lic, look at the kinds of con­tent they share and what they’re inter­est­ed in.

Make a list: Write out key areas you’ve learned about the inter­view­er from their online pro­files. Do you have any expe­ri­ences, con­nec­tions or edu­ca­tion in com­mon? Do you share a pas­sion for advanc­ing cli­mate ini­tia­tives or solv­ing com­plex glob­al hous­ing chal­lenges? Are you both of immi­grant par­ents? Write down any com­mon­al­i­ties you share.

3. Talk to People. 

Talk to your men­tor, net­work­ing con­tacts and oth­er peo­ple you know in com­mon with the inter­view­er (you can find them on LinkedIn, for exam­ple). Ask them what they can share that will give you insight into how the inter­view might go, what this per­son cares about and what they’ll be lis­ten­ing for in your respons­es.

Make a list: Write out what you learned from oth­ers. Is their feed­back con­sis­tent with what you found online?

4. Find the Connections. 

With your research and lists in hand, now iden­ti­fy the sim­i­lar­i­ties. Where do you and the com­pa­ny share com­mon goals, inter­ests, expe­ri­ences and con­cerns? Do these con­nec­tions now reveal ques­tions you could ask in the inter­view or issues you might face if hired? Where does your expe­ri­ence (in the mil­i­tary and after­ward) align with the goals and objec­tives the com­pa­ny is focused on?

Next, over­lap your inter­ests, , goals and pas­sions with those of the inter­view­er. What do you see? Are there a lot of com­mon­al­i­ties or more dis­sim­i­lar­i­ties? This will help you gauge how the inter­view might pro­ceed and where you can shore up your of the con­ver­sa­tion to make a pos­i­tive impres­sion.

5. Prepare for the Interview.  

Now, get ready to meet this per­son you already know a lot about. You have a sense of what they care about and how long they’ve been in their field and with the com­pa­ny, as well as the kinds of can­di­dates the com­pa­ny seeks. 

Use this infor­ma­tion to build rap­port at the out­set of the inter­view. Men­tion­ing, “I see from your LinkedIn pro­file that you went to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land. I also took class­es there before trans­fer­ring to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan. What did you think of your time there?” or “Seems you and I share an inter­est in help­ing ani­mal res­cues. Have you per­son­al­ly owned a res­cue pet or fos­tered?” If the infor­ma­tion you found was pub­licly avail­able, con­sid­er it safe to men­tion.

Devel­op thought­ful ques­tions. Con­sid­er what your research told you and what ques­tions might be help­ful to know more about if you were to pur­sue employ­ment. Do you want to know more about the com­pa­ny’s com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice projects or “pro­mot­ing from with­in” phi­los­o­phy? Write your ques­tions down in advance of the inter­view.

Go in con­fi­dent and clear. With what you’ve learned, con­sid­er that you’re meet­ing some­one who’s no longer a stranger. You know some things about them, and this should enable you to feel more con­fi­dent about your inter­view and clear about how you see your­self fit­ting into the role and the com­pa­ny.

A job inter­view should not feel like meet­ing a com­plete stranger. If you have the name(s) of the  interviewer(s) in advance, become as pre­pared as you can about them, the com­pa­ny and how best to influ­ence the con­ver­sa­tion.

The author of “Suc­cess After Ser­vice: How to Take Con­trol of Your Job Search and Career After Mil­i­tary Duty” (2020) and “Your Next Mis­sion: A per­son­al brand­ing guide for the mil­i­tary-to-civil­ian tran­si­tion” (2014), Lida Cit­roën is a keynote speak­er and pre­sen­ter, exec­u­tive coach, pop­u­lar TEDx speak­er and instruc­tor of mul­ti­ple cours­es on LinkedIn . She reg­u­lar­ly presents work­shops on per­son­al brand­ing, exec­u­tive pres­ence, lead­er­ship com­mu­ni­ca­tion and rep­u­ta­tion risk man­age­ment.

A writer for Military.com, Lida is a pas­sion­ate sup­port­er of the mil­i­tary, vol­un­teer­ing her time to help vet­er­ans tran­si­tion to civil­ian careers and assist employ­ers who seek to hire mil­i­tary tal­ent. She reg­u­lar­ly speaks at con­fer­ences, cor­po­rate meet­ings and events focused on mil­i­tary tran­si­tion.

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