I’ve got an interview coming up and I did some due diligence on my interviewer and found his current job and background. Could I mention it during the interview, or would that sound offensive?
Ah, the old “stalk ‘em on the Internet” trick. I love it. And I love how you call it “due diligence”; sounds way less creepy than saying you “Googled their name, looked ‘em up on LinkedIn and even found their photos on Picasa.”
You should really consider a career in marketing. Something tells me you’d be really good at it….
Anyway, let’s answer that question.
I always tell aaaall of my clients that they should get to know their interviewer, so bravo for taking the first step. Now, I’m not saying you should scroll through their Facebook profile and find out what they did for Valentine’s Day, but you never want to walk into a conversation without knowing at least something about the person you’re about to speak with. How good can the conversation be when it’s totally one-sided?
OK, sure, the purpose of this little meeting is for them to interview and get to know you, but the best way to leave a mark on your interviewer is to do more than just answer their questions and impress them with your background. You’ve got to connect with them on some level.
And to do that, you’ve got to find some common ground. And to do THAT, you’ve got to know something about ‘em. That means knowing his or her current job/background is a great tool to have.
Now, you just need to figure out how to use it right.
What you DON’T want to do is walk in there and say, “So, I read online that you’re from Detroit and have worked your way up at Ford before moving to your current role at XYZ company, and you have a wife, 3 kids and a Golden Retriever named Charlie.”
What you DO want to do is steer the conversation in the right direction, knowing what you know, and get the interviewer to bite the proverbial bait:
You: “I spent some time in Detroit working on a project for ABC company.”
Interviewer: “Oh, you worked on a project in Detroit? I am originally from Detroit.”
You: “Oh yeah? Where abouts?”
See how that works? If you do it right, having that information on your interviewer can really enhance the entire interview experience. So find out whatever you can about the person who will be interviewing you, then figure out a smart way to work it into the thirty or so minutes you’ll have with him/her. That will get the conversation flowing… and a successful interview underway.
May the force be with you,
– Jon Frank
Read more advice for acing the MBA interview here.
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