Turning The Interview Tables

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Using Social Media To Get the Inside Scoop on Company Culture

You probably have questions about what its really like working at the company you're about to interview for.

You probably have questions about what it’s really like working at the company you’re about to interview for.

Earlier this month, Talent Formula Contributor Helen Rol wrote an great article about Preparing for Campus Interviews. I wanted to take some time today to build on that article and give you a few more ways to prepare for not only an interview – but to turn the tables. I’m going to show you how to use social media to help determine if you really want to work at the company you think you do, and then stand out in the interview if the answer is yes!

Sometimes we forget, that just as recruiters and managers need to make the right decision for their business when they are considering hiring you, you need to assess that company and make sure its the right fit for you as well. Lets begin.

Peeling Back The Curtain

The first thing you need to ask yourself is – will this company and your personality be a good fit. If the companies culture, people, and values are not a match to yours no amazing salary or benefits package will make you want to wake up in the morning. But how do we check this before we actually work there? Well there is no way to know 100%, but there are some tricks and tools we can use to give us a good idea.

Follow Senior Leadership Around

I don’t mean following the CEO home from the office. Definitely don’t do that. But find leadership via their presence online. More and more company Presidents, CEOs, and VPs are becoming active online. Some tweet from their own accounts, while others let their PR teams manage their accounts for them. Either way – it can give you great insights into what is really going on in a company and what senior leaderships priorities are about.

Some great examples of CEO’s on Twitter:

Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct
Peter is a great example of an engaging CEO. Once I even saw him tweet a co-worker to ask if they wanted him to grab them a coffee while he was out. Who wouldn’t want to work for someone like that? He also blogs here: http://blog.ingdirect.ca

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc
Apple is a company that is famously secretive. While Steve Jobs was at the helm this sort of openness was unlikely (although Jobs did respond to customer emails personally). This could be the start of a new era for Apple.

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin
We all know Richard Branson. Even if you don’t want to work at a Virgin company, you might want to follow just to see how a CEO who continues to reinvent the industries he invests in thinks.

Listen In

What are existing employees saying? Sometimes the most honest feedback is given when no one is actually asking a question.
Try searching Twitter and other social media networks for the company name to see what comes up. Often, it will be tweets from staff who are talking openly about their jobs and the company they work for. I once found a head recruiter complaining on Twitter that they hated working for the company they recruited for because of the hours. That is definitely valuable information if you’re not a fan of overtime (especially coming from someone who is supposed to be SELLING employment opportunities there!).

You many need to do some digging, but it can be very valuable.
1. Try searching the company name in Tweets, and add any employees you find to a private twitter list so you can check back before your interview

2. Use Twitters Advanced Search feature to narrow your search by location, this way you can find staff talking specifically about the local office.

Check Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Try using Google to find blog posts from staff as well.

Read the Reviews

There are websites where you can read reviews posted by existing and former staff of just about any medium or large company. One of the most popular is www.glassdoor.com. It can be a great resource for inside information, but remember bad reviews are often written by disgruntled former employees that have an ax to grind. For that reason try to pick out only the relevant facts in any review – and filter out the emotions.

Take Notes

Undoubtedly during your research you’re going to come up with questions you can ask during your interview. Being prepared with insightful and researched questions can make you stand out during the interview process and your research should give you many insights to prepare. Write down your questions and take them with you.

Make The Call

Hopefully you’ve found a great place to work, and you wowed them with your insights on their industry and questions about their corporate strategy thanks to their CEO’s Twitter account, in that case – congratulations.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if what you find makes it clear the organizations culture is not a fit for you. A company may place a lot of importance on long hours and dedication, while you might value more work life balance. You may be a type A personality that needs a competitive and energetic atmosphere to thrive and discover the company is relaxed and un-ambitious (by your standards anyways, you rockstar).

We hope these tips help you make the right decisions, and make you look great when you interview!

Michael Mahoney
With a background in a multitude of fields from HR, marketing, strategy, and mobile application development, Michael has a unique perspective on how social media is changing business today. Due to his passion for social media, Michael has been featured in HR Professional Magazine and is regularly asked to comment on industry news. Look for Michael’s blog posts about top trends in social media to achieve results in the HR space.

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