Most interviewing advice, including the advice found here on IT Business Edge, takes prospective employees through the steps necessary to research the companies with which they will interview. There’s an art to finding a company that matches your career desires – and then figuring out how to present yourself as the match to that company’s desires for its open position.
But one absolutely crucial piece of the puzzle is where you and that company meet: the new manager.
David Reese, who “leads people and culture” at Medallia, has written a very interesting blog post at the Harvard Business Review Blog Network about “reference-checking your future boss.” It’s a tactic that isn’t going to work for everyone, which Reese acknowledges. But a recent applicant to his firm asked for references from the colleagues of the prospective manager. The references were provided to this applicant and he is now a company employee.
For some senior-level positions, making the effort to openly research the potential manager, Reese suggests, could be seen as an additional sign that the applicant is taking the process extremely seriously. It also, he writes, “establishes a more transparent, bi-directional conversation between both sides.” That is, it evens the balance of power a bit, or at least calls attention to the fact that the applicant hasn’t forgotten that the prospective employer isn’t holding all the cards.
Exactly how you go about asking for additional information about the manager deserves serious thought. Probably the best avenue is asking other employees who also interview you about their experiences working with the individual. For senior-level positions, this shouldn’t be a problem. And if you can do so in person, body language and facial expressions may tell you much more than spoken words. Online sources, as Reese mentions, can also shed light on other connections that you may be able to pursue for more info.
If you haven’t thought about the qualities that you seek in a manager, and you haven’t felt that you were in a position to inquire about those qualities, you can now add to the list of career advice another action item: Gather information on the person who may have the greatest effect on your experience in your next professional position.