APU Business Original

LinkedIn: Look Beyond the Surface during Pre-Interview Research

By Susan Hoffman
Edge Managing Editor

By now, it’s standard for job seekers, business owners and company employees to have a LinkedIn profile. Since LinkedIn was first created in 2003, this platform has become hugely popular, allowing its members to:

  • Provide publicity for their companies
  • Make contacts
  • Showcase their expertise
  • Increase their professional knowledge
  • Discuss a wide variety of topics

LinkedIn is a particular boon to people who are actively hunting for jobs. It allows candidates to describe their talents and experience, apply for jobs, and research a company prior to an interview.

But LinkedIn also offers other useful information for job seekers if you look beyond its surface. With some extra research on your part, LinkedIn reveals more than employers realize.

Is an Organization Truly Committed to Diversity?

Many employers say that they are truly committed to diversity in their hiring practices. But do they practice what they preach?

Take a look at any recent company photos that the CEO or employees have posted on LinkedIn. Ideally, those company photos should show a good mixture of people of different ages, genders and ethnicities.

If there are no company photos to examine, look at the profiles of employees who currently work at the company (you can do this research in LinkedIn’s private mode). Does the company hire a mix of people? They should.

Is the Company Well Managed?

LinkedIn can be revealing in showing how well a company is managed. Indeed notes that a typical employee stays at a job for at least four years, according to a 2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics Study.

However, if you review the profiles of former company employees and note that many of them leave the organization after a year or less, that should be a red flag for you and worth your time to investigate further.

A lot of people leaving the company within a short period of time may indicate internal problems within the company. As the saying goes, “People don’t leave companies; they leave managers.”

Is the Role for Which You’re Interviewing Unique in the Organization?

Depending upon the organization, the company may hire someone for a unique role or may have two or more people with the same job title. For instance, a human resources department in a large company may have two people working as human resources generalists. By checking the profiles of current employees, it is easier to determine whether or not a role is unique.

Bear in Mind What LinkedIn Doesn’t Reveal

It’s important to bear in mind that all of this information about diversity, management and unique positions is only the company’s outer surface. However, it should be your starting point for further research. The best way to truly understand an organization prior to a job interview, however, is to talk with current and former employees.

Talking with a variety of people can give you a better sense of whether or not you’re going to fit into the company culture. This situation is where a good-sized LinkedIn network or membership in a university student organization comes in handy; you may be able to find people who work at the organization or who know employees who currently work there.

Ask Career Services for Help before Job Interviews

Our Career Services department provides several complimentary services to both AMU and APU current students and alumni. These services include LinkedIn profile reviews, mock interviews and resume reviews. For more information, email Career Services.

Susan Hoffman is a Managing Editor at Edge, whose articles have appeared in multiple publications. Susan is known for her expertise in blogging, social media, SEO, and content analytics, and she is also a book reviewer for Military History magazine. She has a B.A. cum laude in English from James Madison University and an undergraduate certificate in electronic commerce from American Public University.

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