Magnifying GlassMost candidates become nervous at the thought of a background check. It feels slightly uncomfortable to have an employer rifle through your history. We would all rather it didn’t happen. So, why not console yourself a little by turning the tables and doing a nice, detailed background check on your interviewer/hiring manager?

Of course, background checking your hiring manager can do more than just make you feel better: there are some very sound and practical reasons for background checking your interviewer.

For starters, whether we like it or not, hiring has become more focused on personality and cultural fit. A recent Northwestern University study found that many employers are focusing more on social compatibility than skill fit when selecting candidates — much like the way people select romantic partners. If you have a greater knowledge of your hiring manager — from background checking them — you may find it easier to build a rapport and make yourself seem like a more attractive candidate.

study by Leadership IQ found that one of the main reasons that new hires fail — usually within 18 months of being hired — was because they couldn’t accept and implement feedback from their manager. This shows that the direct line manager relationship is crucial to success in a role. Once again, if you can build a greater knowledge of your hiring manager through background checking, you can see if their leadership style is compatible with your follower/working style, which means you can avoid making a potentially disastrous career decision if you are not a good fit for each other.

The benefits of conducting background checks on hiring managers are clear: it allows you to build a greater rapport with your hiring manager, making you seem more compatible and more attractive as a candidate, and it also enables you to understand the hiring manager’s leadership style, so you can properly assess whether you would be a good fit before accepting a position in which you could be doomed to failure.

Background checking your interviewer is essential — but what kind of information should you be looking for, anyway?

To start, you should be looking at their hobbies and interests to see if you have any in common. The Northwestern study mentioned above showed that employers were using matching hobbies and interests to determine culture fit. Armed with these insights, you can, at the right moment, strike up a stimulating discussion about your shared interests, gaining cultural-fit brownie points with the interviewer in the process.

You should also be tryng to find out about their management and leadership style, both prior to the interview and during. You might be able to get some idea of their leadership style by researching their social media profile to see what management books they’ve read, which leaders they admire, and/or the tactics, strategies, or working styles that they sympathize with. By viewing their personal Twitter feeds, LinkedIn profiles, blog posts, and comments, you should be able to get an idea of their management and leadership style.

Finally, make sure you check out who their friends are to see if you have any close friends in common.  This Federal Reserve Bank study shows that candidates who have been referred or recommended by someone known to the employer/hiring manager are 40 percent more likely to be hired. Establish if you have any valuable shared connections and use them to your advantage.

As you can see, effective and targeted background checking of your hiring manager prior to the interview can provide you with information that enables you to engage with the interviewer in a more familiar way. This will make you seem more attractive as a candidate, and it could significantly increase your chance of getting the job.

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