I am totally not google-stalking you, but maybe I am. Kinda.
August 7, 2011 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Everybody knows that people check out people they're interviewing with, but how do you bring that information into the conversation without sounding like a creepy stalker?

I have an interview tomorrow, and as I was browsing the LinkedIn profiles of the people I'm meeting with, I suddenly realized, what's the etiquette for talking about material on people's profiles on LinkedIn?

Is "I noticed X on your LinkedIn profile, and blah blah blah..." okay?
(Yes, I'm sure I'm over-thinking this, but you know, interviews!)
posted by canine epigram to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That's what Linked-in is for. Your example is fine.
posted by katillathehun at 7:39 PM on August 7, 2011

I think Linked-in information would be fine. Not fine would be "I saw on facebook that you went to Maui on your honeymoon."
posted by ghharr at 7:53 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]

The important thing is to make sure this information comes up naturally and in context and has something to do with your interview topics. If you're just using it to obviously curry favor, it doesn't go over well.

Also assume they've Googled the hell out of you, because they have, or should have.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on August 7, 2011

Best answer: LinkedIn is 100% appropriate. I'm also of the opinion that running some basic searches and doing a little bit of digging to see what comes up is fine too. As part of the interview process, it's your job to make sure that your candidate is telling the truth, because some don't. As a programmer, I like to see that people have contributed to open-source projects, and I'll go looking for their contributions so I've got a ready topic of discussion during the interview.

What you bring up during the interview process should be limited to work-related things though - if they post in a public place that they went to Maui on their honeymoon, or went to Pride this year, it's OK to find that, but totally not OK to talk to them about it during the interview, because it has no bearing on whether or not they can do the job.
posted by hackwolf at 8:04 PM on August 7, 2011

I've had people basically expect me to look at their LinkedIn, kind of in the "did you look at our website/research our competitors" type way.

Then again I work in digital land.
posted by sweetkid at 8:13 PM on August 7, 2011

without sounding like a creepy stalker?

I think looking at professional-type information (LinkedIn, open-source contributions, etc) can be brought up without worrying about that, because you're kind of expected to look for that. Doing any more than the most superficial examination of their Facebook profile or their contributions to erotic fanfic archives, though, means you are a creepy stalker.
posted by hattifattener at 8:32 PM on August 7, 2011

Nthing, it's the appropriateness of the information to the job context that determines creepiness. Assuming you got the info without reverse-engineering something, it's fair game IF it relates to the job. Their spouse could drive them to the job interview and I still couldn't ask a bunch of questions about that spouse and the bumper stickers on their car, under most circumstances.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:01 PM on August 7, 2011

Just be sure to remember which information you've gathered this way, and where it came from. I found it quite unsettling when someone mentioned that I had told them something before, but in fact I hadn't told them about it. Even though the information was locatable by Google. I guess it made me feel like they were trying to trick me into thinking that I was sharing more with them than I actually was.
posted by Hither at 9:16 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

As other people have said, there`s nothing wrong with letting someone know that you have researched information about them and include it in the interview. Social networking is`nt just for communicating with friends and family, so if you know where you got the information from (i.e. linkedin or other websites) then definitely mention it in a sincere way. Don`t do it to get brownie points because it will come across as awkward. I think it would be better suited for a question rather than a response, so if you do that then you should be fine!
posted by sincerely-s at 11:24 PM on August 7, 2011

Yeah, limit yourself to what they put into public purview on Linkedin or the company website. Don't dig into their family life, details of their alma mater (unless there's an actual link) or tell them that you figured out their handle on a fanfic site. Keep it extremely professional.

(If someone mentioned a case I worked on, I'd be pleased. If someone said they knew someone who knew someone I used to date, they'd be crossed right off the list.)
posted by motsque at 6:07 AM on August 8, 2011

It would be more impressive to have something informative to say about the company or the industry. This is much more neutral territory and time spent researching both of these will aid you in evaluating the job prospect.
posted by dgran at 6:38 AM on August 8, 2011

Another vote that the example language you used seems entirely reasonable. LinkedIn is (suposedly) a professional network, after all.

I agree that I wouldn't mention their Facebook - that is a social network - but I'd still check it out, of course.
posted by maryr at 7:44 AM on August 8, 2011

When I was on a search committee last year, and the candidate asked a question about a previous (interesting) job I held, I was impressed that she did her homework. I didn't even wonder where she had seen that info as it's widely available. This is not a thing.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:30 AM on August 8, 2011

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