Career Advice, Interviews

Researching The Job Interviewer

The big interview looms. Three days from now you’re going to walk in and meet the woman – who if all goes well – could be your next boss.

While you hopefully know that you need to research the organization before an interview, take time to learn all you can about her, the interviewer.  That includes family, social activities, community and charity involvements and of course, professional credentials. If you’re serious about this job, allow two or three hours to delve into the hiring manager‘s background, interests and approach to leading. Here’s how to do the research:

Go local. Look at weekly or small daily newspaper websites, school PTA newsletters (yes, they’re online) and United Way reports. Check also any local or regional chamber of commerce or business websites.

Go deep. Deep into the World Wide Web, beyond where Google catalogs.  I use for people searches way beyond the surface. And I may try Complete Planet or another invisible web search engine recommended by Saikat Basu on

Go career path. Peruse her LinkedIn profile. Read her biography and find out what conventions and seminars she’s engaged in and/or led. Learn her professional background, and note anything that overlaps with yours.

Find a mole. A friend or friend of a friend who works at the same company. Ask about reputation, management style, willingness to delegate and any new work assignments given. Ask too about whether she’s moving up or down in the corporate hierarchy, and why.

Read her words. Twitter posts, guest blog posts, any personal blog she kept provide windows into her thinking. Look into Facebook postings and other fingerprinted sections.

Know her success – and problems. Discover what awards and recognition she’s won – and note anything from the past six months worth a congratulations if the right moment comes along in the interview. Check trade publications and industry blogs for mentions or comments.

Understand her frustrations, issues and problems. These may show up in questions she poses on BrazenCareerist, LinkedIn or in professional discussion groups. The problems faced can give you some time to demonstrate your expertise and problem-solving abilities around something that really matters.

While you’re doing all this research, make notes on the hiring manager and what you learn about her. Create a document to detail all this. It’s easier to refresh your memory when everything is in one place. Divide findings into professional, personal and passions — all three are valuable keys to who she is and what she values. And all three will provide hints whether the future boss is a kindred spirit, an evil taskmaster or an absent-minded professor.

Use this information during the first and second interviews to show serious interest and to connect with the manager. And use it also as a way to tailor your message and pitch to the boss’ needs and interests. And if you really want to connect, you’ll join one of her LinkedIn Groups, professional associations, or donate to her favorite charity.

While this may seem like a lot of work, consider it an upfront investment in a potentially great long-term relationship with your new boss.