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I know LinkedIn notifies the user when someone visits their profile. I have an interview scheduled in a week with 4 different people from a company. I would like to see what is on their LinkedIn and see if I can learn more about these 4 people before my interview so I go in prepared.

Is that wrong/creepy to learn about my interview panel through LinkedIn, given they would know I viewed their profile? Or would they consider it as a good practice to try and learn my interviewer so I know what to ask to them in specific?

If it is acceptable to look at their LinkedIn profiles, is it also acceptable to ask them questions that I couldn't have asked unless I was on their LinkedIn profile? As in, could I mention "Oh I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you...."?


Post-Interview Update:
I had my interview and it went very well. I did not mention to 3 of the 4 people on the panel about the LinkedIn "research" I'd done about them, but I did ask them questions that arose from my research of their LinkedIn profiles, yet not obvious that I couldn't have thought of the questions otherwise.

I did mention to one of the interviewers, as they were talking about something I noticed on their LinkedIn, that

I noticed that on your LinkedIn and found that to be very interesting. Could you elaborate on that a bit because I am very curious about it.

They were pretty surprised by that and mentioned:

Oh looks like you did your homework, I like that [with a smile].

So definitely good advice I've received here.

Post-Interview Update 2:
I got the job! Solid advice here, thank you!

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    As a side note, you can set it so that people do not know when you view their profile. – David K Jan 22 at 20:28
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    @DavidK Thanks for letting me know. I noticed a couple of the users mention that in their answers and that was news to me. I did not know that. But based on Steve's answer, I think I kinda want them to know now! – Crazy Cucumber Jan 22 at 20:42
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    Possible duplicate of What is LinkedIn etiquette before an interview? – stannius Jan 23 at 15:55
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    @DavidK As a side-side note, AFAIK, people who pay LinkedIn can see who has viewed their profile regardless of the viewers privacy settings. – code_dredd Jan 24 at 6:36
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    @code_dredd That is not true. If you have a free account and have your own profile set to private mode, then you also cannot view who has visited your profile. If you have a premium account, then you can see who has viewed your profile regardless of what your own privacy settings are. "Upgrading your account will not reveal the identity of private mode viewers. LinkedIn will respect a member's choice to browse in private mode." Source – David K Jan 24 at 13:22
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The whole point of LinkedIn is to allow users to share business, and in some cases personal, information about themselves. The converse is also true; allowing you to view business and professional information of a potential employer, customer, business partner or other business relationship.

Honestly, as an employer, I'd be disappointed and surprised if you didn't look at available information about my company and employees on LinkedIn.

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    I think most would, from my experience it is expected. – Steve Jan 22 at 20:20
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    While I wouldn't go so far as to say I'd be disappointed if I find you hadn't looked me or the company up on LinkedIn, I will say that I would consider it a positive if you did and used what you found to ask good questions or make good points. If you just looked at it, I'd view it neutrally, and if you hadn't, I wouldn't notice or care. I would be disappointed if you came to an interview knowing nothing about the company or division as applicable though. – Doc Jan 22 at 21:39
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    I'd add that not only is it generally acceptable and, in places, expected, but it helps both people. If you're considering a job with X-Company, being interviewed by Alice, it makes sense to visit the Company X websites and social media, including LinkedIn, to get a better feel for what they want you to do. It also makes sense to visit Alice's LinkedIn to see what she, specifically, has worked on at that company, so you can get a better sense of what questions she'll be able to answer. You'll come in more prepared, waste less time, and ask better questions -- a net gain all around. – Nic Hartley Jan 22 at 21:39
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    I recently did VERY well in an interview when I brought up "so, you work with technology XYZ?" that I found on the linkedin to one of the interviewers. They were very impressed and we had a good discussion. As long as its job related - go for it. Nothing creepy at all, youre just doing your homework – vikingsteve Jan 23 at 8:08
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    I'd only add that looking someone up on a social platform like Facebook (which has happened to me) would be going too far - but that's because Facebook is for friends. LinkedIn is for business, by design. Look people up on LinkedIn to your heart's content. – BittermanAndy Jan 23 at 10:58
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If I were one of the interviewers, I would view it as good research and a positive indicator about your interest in the job.

I would however stay away from asking any questions about info you found out on LinkedIn that is not directly relevant to the job you are interviewing for unless they volunteer the information. The fact that you went to the same university or have a shared previous employer doesn't apply to your qualifications for this job. If they pick that up from your resume and bring it up, then by all means engage that discussion. You don't want it to look like you're using that other information to get around your qualifications.

  • So if I spot something like say "we both love using this one technology" and the position I am interviewing for is also in the same position, could I mention that I noticed on their LinkedIn that it is their favorite technology, as is mine, as a way to demonstrate a connection/interest in the position? – Crazy Cucumber Jan 22 at 19:30
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    If that technology is not part of the actual job description, I would not bring it up first. For example, you both think Python is really cool, but the job is about C++. – cdkMoose Jan 22 at 19:51
  • @CrazyCucumber A good candidate would custom the resumé to the job offer. If they omit said technology on the résumé, you should not bring it up in the discussion. – Pierre Arlaud Jan 23 at 10:12
  • one of the reasons I got my current job is because the CEO (and indeed several senior staff) worked at the same company as me over 20 years ago. It triggered them to invite me for an interview :) – jwenting Jan 23 at 10:41
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You can make your visits invisible to people whose profiles you visit.

But I have actually visited profiles of my would-be-bosses and coworkers without making my visits invisible. Many of my interviewers also visited my profile. I don't think this is a problem.

Mentioning what you found on their profiles is too much though. It has a stalker vibe to it. I wouldn't do it. Instead, you should be smart about it and use this info to prepare for your interview without referring to the data directly.

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    +1 for "Mentioning what you found... has a stalker vibe to it" – J. Chris Compton Jan 22 at 20:41
  • going invisible requires premium – TheGirlHasNoName Jan 23 at 0:25
  • @bruglesco, it doesn't unless something changed in the last weeks. The disadvantage is you then don't see who visited your profile. – BigMadAndy Jan 23 at 6:17
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    Linked in is explicitly made for this; and I wouldn't be afraid of saying anything there. If however you look at their facebook account and say something about their kids and their holiday in Spain in the interview then you can probably kiss goodbye to the job. – UKMonkey Jan 23 at 10:00
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You're trying to better understand the company structure, projects, and day-to-day tasks. This information is valuable for you in order to make an informed decision on whether to take the job or not, should you get an offer.

We look at LinkedIn profiles for our candidates in order to give us more detail that your resume does not have, which can help us with the interview process. You are doing essentially the same thing when you look at the profiles of employees.

If it is acceptable to look at their LinkedIn profiles, is it also acceptable to ask them questions that I couldn't have asked unless I was on their LinkedIn profile? As in, could I mention "Oh I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you...."?

Yes, but keep the scope about the company, not about any specific person. Phrase your questions as:

I saw on LinkedIn that your company is developing a mobile app.

not:

I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you're working on the company's mobile app.

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What they put on their Linkedin is the version they want you to see.

More interesting "spying" would be figuring out what they are like when someone else portrays them rather than when they are allowed to portray themselves.

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When you are searching for a job you better use any available information about the company, its employees and especially your interviewers. Preparation is the key to success but it's important to do it the right way. Creeping on their profiles every single day might not be a good strategy but looking at their profiles once is perfectly fine.

What I really like about sites like LinkedIn is the section where the skills are listed. Other members can confirm these skills. If I look up the interviewers and I see a lot of skills which are confirmed I can draw some conclusions about the companys commitment to further educate their employees. Asking in this direction in an interview is a great way to show interest. The skills and interests of the interviewers might be an indiction what they will ask you about.

Stay away from personal questions like 'Why did you leave company xyz...', that would be a weird question, but it's legitimate to ask what motivated them to work for the current company.

  • I strongly recommending ignoring the "skills" section. I have a number of recommendations for my skills in "subversion". I have never used the svn source code control system which is I think what the skill is referring to ... – Martin Bonner Jan 23 at 9:37

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