Conducting Interview Intel

So, you got the interview…congratulations! Now the real work begins.

It’s time to dig in and conduct some intelligence operations.  By the time you are done, you will have put yourself in the best position possible to ace the interview and get the job you have been working so hard to land.

It’s no surprise that military organizations, governments, law enforcement agencies and corporations all conduct intelligence operations.  They all seek to know as much as they can about their competition and to stack the deck in their favor; whether it’s in a military conflict, criminal investigation or business development, knowing everything possible about the key actors you will operate against (or with) is vital to success.

The interview is just such a situation, where you want to discover everything there is to know about the organization you are seeking to join, as well as about the person, or people who will be interviewing you.  Does this sound a bit shady or devious?  Don’t worry, it’s all above board if you use publicly available information and don’t engage in stalking or other nefarious activities!  Besides, the organization you will be interviewing with has already done their intelligence operations on you!

Where do you start?  The key things you will want to know going into the interview are significant facts and figures relating to the organization such as:

  • company mission/values/history
  • products or services they make/sell
  • who are their customers
  • who are their competitors
  • sales figures/stock valuation and trends
  • recent news stories
  • upcoming acquisitions/mergers/plans for expansion or consolidation
  • who’s who in the company
  • what are the company’s “pain points”

Once you have researched and answered all these issues you are ready to move on to the next area of your intelligence operations…….the interviewer.  As you already know, if you’ve been reading this blog, much of the interview involves personality, chemistry, and whether or not you are a “fit” for the position and the organization.  Presenting yourself as a person who is engaged, knowledgeable, and connected will give you a head start in the interview and show the interviewer that you are someone they want on their team.

The interviewer has a huge advantage over you in that they already know quite a bit about you from your resume; but it doesn’t stop there.  You must assume that the interviewer has done a search for you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, and other social media sites.

Hint – if you haven’t already cleaned up your social media, do it now.  We’ll talk more about this in a future post. 

The first step is to find out who will be interviewing you.  This is not always possible as the information may be guarded by the company or may not be known ahead of the interview.  Often, however, the person that arranged your interview will know who will conduct the interview and will be willing to give you their name(s).  Once you have this information it’s time to find out as much as you can about the individual to help level the playing field and leverage your position.

Things you will want to know are:

  • how old is the person?
  • where are they from (region/state)?
  • where did they go to school?
  • what hobbies or interests do they have?
  • where have they worked before?
  • how long they have been at the company?
  • do you have any mutual friends?
  • what organizations are they a member of?
  • have they been in the news?
  • have they recently achieved something (degree/certification/promotion)?
  • have they recently suffered a loss?

Once you have answers to the above questions you will be in a very favorable position to engage the interviewer on a personal basis and connect in ways which will leave other candidates in the dust!

What sources do I like to use for conducting intel?  


For company background:


For interviewer background:

  • various social media sites (check them all), especially LinkedIn and Facebook (do you have any mutual friends?)
  • once you have some info on the person’s favorite hobbies  /activities/charities/schools/organizations, do a search on these linked to the person’s name
  • search linking both the company and the person
  • contact anyone you already know at the organization, or who once worked there, and enlist them as a “secret agent”
  • visit local establishments near the company and meet people that may be willing to discuss the company with you (restaurants/bars/shops); try hanging out at lunchtime or after work to meet employees who will be willing to talk 
  • ask the person setting up your interview for some “background” on the person who will be interviewing you (you’d be surprised what people are willing to share – just keep it confidential)

Bottom line………………you don’t have to be a huge three-letter government agency to conduct some very good intelligence operations and dramatically increase your odds of acing your next interview; so get out there and start digging!


photo: pixabay



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After serving for 27 years in the US Navy and another 20 years in the defense industry I am excited to share my experience in the areas of career and interview coaching with fellow veterans and others joining, or rejoining, the job market.

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