How to Snoop on a Future Employer


stalk potential employerThis post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.

I probably don’t have to tell you that you need to research any role or company you’re applying to. With the amount of information available online, it’s absolutely inexcusable for a candidate not to know the basics before an interview.

But how much, exactly, are you supposed to know? And is there such a thing as knowing too much about a potential employer or hiring manager? It might surprise you to learn that, yes, sometimes digging too deep and oversharing what you’ve learned can actually hurt you during the interview process.

Don’t worry, though—all your investigative research won’t go to waste. Follow these guidelines, and you can continue your employer stalking without being a creep.

Do: Research the Company, Not the Details

Depending on how public the information on your potential employer is, the research process can get a little overwhelming. From annual reports and press releases to years of social media postings, you could spend a good year researching and still not know everything there is to know about a company.

But the truth is, you don’t have to. Remember, you’re going to an interview, not trivia night. While it might be key to know a company is rapidly expanding in Asia, you don’t need to memorize how many offices it has in each country.

The key is to spend your research time wisely. Start by reviewing the company’s website. If available, a great shortcut is to check out the media room. There, you can read recent press headlines and download the company’s media fact sheet to get a top-line overview of the mission, key products, initiatives, and offerings. Don’t waste time memorizing financial documents or going back in the archives.

Similarly, look at the LinkedIn or BranchOut profiles of the people who will be interviewing you. See if they mention specific projects they are currently working on and what their career trajectory was like to help spur potential questions to ask during the interview. Don’t worry about remembering dates or specific companies. At the end of the day, being able to speak intelligently about the company’s big-picture mission and the hiring manager’s current initiatives is much more important (and much less creepy) than knowing the stock price history since 1998.