Using LinkedIn to prepare for an interview (research interviewers and company)
Use LinkedIn to Prepare for Interviews: Research Your Potential Interviewers (and the Company)
When you are invited for an interview, it’s always good to ask who will be interviewing you. Why? So you’re prepared! I can tell you from personal experience that it’s mentally jarring to think you are having a one-on-one interview, and you walk into a room that is set up with one empty chair facing a long table with multiple interviewers.
To find out this information, you can ask an insider, if you already know someone at the company. You can also ask the HR contact or the person you have been speaking with about the opportunity. You may not get the answer you’re looking for but it’s worth a try. Sometimes they don’t have the people lined up, so they honestly can’t tell you. They might say, “We haven’t selected the panel members yet,” which at least tells you that you will be interviewing in a group setting.
One quick way to research interviewers would be on LinkedIn. If you can get any names, be sure to ask for the correct spelling (and know that you may need to try a variation of their name, like Robert might use Bob or Bobby). You type their name into the main search field which is in the top left corner of the website (as shown below). A list of people with that name should come up in your results.
If that doesn’t work, you can also use added filters to add a company name or other information you might know about the person. Once you do one search for a name, you’ll come to a page that has an option for All Filters. If you click on All Filters, you’ll see you can add more details to narrow down your search.
If there is not much information on their profile, it’s a clue that they are not on LinkedIn too much (and you shouldn’t use this forum to communicate with them). Clues of inactivity would include few connections, no profile picture or very minimal information (if you can’t find someone on LinkedIn or there is very little information, try to Google the name and see what you find).
If you do have success with your searching on LinkedIn, be sure to read the full profile. First, look to see if LinkedIn has identified any people who you know in common. Next, look at where they went to school, where they have worked in the past and how long they have been with the current employer to gain insights on their perspective or to find overlaps with your background. Beyond that, look for volunteer activities and LinkedIn groups they belong to (under Interests at the bottom) to seek out any shared passions. Other useful sections to better understand the person would be the Summary and Accomplishments sections.
Any of this information can be used to break the ice upon your first meeting, to build rapport during and after the interview, or to pay a well-deserved compliment (never underestimate the power of flattery). It’s best if you can casually bring these things up. If it’s necessary, you can admit that you did some research on the company and employees to prepare for your interview, (and you did it because you are so excited about working for this company).
While you’re on LinkedIn, don’t forget to search the company name to see if they have a presence on the site. On LinkedIn’s company pages, you can find out basic information such as location, size, industry and current job openings (it will also show if you know people who work there). Recent updates might share useful information on new products and initiatives or accolades the company has received. You can work this knowledge into your general responses and it will help you to prepare for the question, “What do you know about our company?”