Interviewing Tip #1: Research Your Hiring Manager and Company

If you’re interviewing for a position, you’ve heard the old adage: “Research the company.” Yes, that’s true, and it’s not enough. It’s time to research the hiring manager also. Here’s how you research the company and the hiring manager:

  1. Research the company by reading the web site. Read the annual and quarterly reports. Read the management team bios. Look at the different product lines. What kind of work would you do to influence those product lines? This is especially important if you’re applying for an IT or IS position, not a product-generator position.
  2. If the job is local, attend some local professional meetings (see the Networking post), and talk to hiring managers. It’s easier to build rapport with people when you meet them in a non-threatening environment (even hiring managers can be uneasy in interviews).
  3. Search the names of the hiring manager and the hiring manager’s manager (through the management team), if you know their names. Has the hiring manager been active in a local professional group, written an article, participated in an on-line discussion group? If the hiring manager has a common name, look for the manager’s email address instead of the name.

You don’t need to research the manager’s life (in fact, please don’t!), but look for their participation on forums where they would be likely to post something. What does the manager say? How does the manager say it? Take a look at Stickyminds for test and QA managers, Software Development forums, at the various Yahoo groups for agile development and testing, the appropriate comp.software newsgroups and any other forums you think the manager may know about and participate in.

You can ask the hiring manager if s/he participates in online forums. Here’s what I asked a hiring manager, “Do you participate in an online forums? Which ones?” When the manager replied, I asked, “Good, I’ll take a look at the things you’ve said. Is there a post you’re particularly proud of? One that explains your management style or vision?” The manager sent me the URL.

This doesn’t work with everyone, but it works with some people, and is worth adding as a tool to your investigative toolkit. The more you can discover about a job, a company, a hiring manager, the better your interviewing and job decision will be.

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