Ask A Recruiter: Using Backdoor References

Q: I have an interview coming up and want to find out more about the company, but there’s not a lot of information about them online.

 

A: It’s commendable that you want to research and find out more about the company you’re meeting with. Hiring managers like to see candidates who have done their homework, as it demonstrates your interest in finding a job and an employer that is the right fit for you.

 

When looking for additional information, keep an eye out for disconfirming information and different perspectives. In other words, don’t stop just because you find information that confirms your assumptions and predispositions about the company. In the end, if your research yields contradictory information, it will give you more to talk about in the interview!

 

If you’ve exhausted publicly available resources, like the company’s web site and social media pages (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and other pages like Glassdoor, and you have tried finding articles or other links via Google searches, it may be time to consider backdoor references.

 

A backdoor reference refers to finding information via a secondary or less publicly known method. One way to do this would be to find someone in your network that works at the company you’re looking into.

 

A good way to start is to search LinkedIn for anyone in your network that’s affiliated with the company or is connected to someone else who’s at the company.

 

Once you find a connection, you’ll want to make the most of your opportunity to gather insight on what it’s like to work at the company.

 

A questioning tactic that has become popular lately is to ask “stay” questions, as in “What makes you stay in this position/at this company?” Other stay interview questions cover what’s good and bad about the employee’s job, like these from Monster.com:

  • What about your job makes you want jump out of bed?
  • What about your job makes you want to hit the snooze button?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • If you changed your role completely, what would you miss the most?
  • If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you miss?
  • What did you love in your last position that you’re not doing now?
  • What makes for a great day at work?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about your work, your role and your responsibilities?
  • What do you think about on your way to work?
  • What’s bothering you most about your job?

 

If your contact isn’t working in the department or role that you’re interested in, ask them if they can put you in touch with someone who works in a similar role. This will help you get a sense of the role’s responsibilities and the team’s culture.

 

Of course, you’ll want to practice discretion when pursuing backdoor references, which is why it’s important to look for personal connections and contacts you know to be trustworthy. Keep your questions professional – you don’t want to be perceived as negative or prying for gossip.

 

 

As PSG’s internal HR Manager, Heather is a certified Professional in HR and oversees the team that brings talent into the organization.  She also oversees PSG’s training programs and is a member of the MSA Legislative Committee as well as NEHRA’s Diversity Scholarship and Conference Planning Committees.

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