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Normally when you are looking for a job you are asked for references. Would it be fair to ask the company for references as well? For example, could they give me two managers and two developers to talk to about the company?

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    Corporations are not people... (despite Citizens United ;-) Regardless, check out Glassdoor.com, you can find some rather ... interesting ... reviews on working for companies in your area. – maple_shaft Jun 12 '12 at 18:37
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    @maple_shaft: GlassDoor.com seems to have a bias towards reviews written by (usuaslly former) employees who have an issue with their employer. Whatever is found there should be taken with several large grains of salt. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 12 '12 at 19:13
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    @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner In general I agree with you but you have to take things into perspective. I expect any company to have some emotionally charged anger filled people who write negative reviews. If the company is 50k ppl and there are 20 such negative reviews then I may see that as normal. If the company is about 500 people and there are 25 lengthy negative reviews then that should be a cause for alarm. – maple_shaft Jun 13 '12 at 1:00
  • @maple_shaft: I guess that it's more likely to help identify possible negative situations than positive ones. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jun 13 '12 at 4:18
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It's a great idea, just don't make any references to it being "references" (and excuse the pun).

What you may be really looking for are some more "2nd level" and in-depth interviews, plus feedback from past employees.

Say that you're are really excited about the company but you want to really make sure it's a good fit for both parties before committing.

So you'd like to meet with a couple more folks, just to get the chance to know them a little better and make sure that you can have a good working relationship with them.

An employer-employee relationship depends on good interpersonal relationships between all parties and people involved so you feel it's important that it is the right fit. You make a big personal investment in all the companies you work for so this is important to you.

You'll notice that the language here puts you in control, demonstrates your professionalism and commitment to results. Language is important.

for meeting with other folks and ex-employees that can give yo )perhaps more honest) feedback you'll need to network and search linkedIn and then figure out the best away to approach such folks. In the long term you're better off joining user groups and getting to know people and through them, company reputations.

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    Thanks! I actually found one of their previous employees on Linkedin (left a couple of months ago). I asked him if he has a positive view of the company, I'm waiting to see if I get any answer... BTW Thank you for the edits! – user1220 Jun 12 '12 at 17:39
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    JuUst remember thatwhen you are looking at someone who recently left, unless you know the person well, you may have to take their information with a huge grain of salt. People leave all the time from places where other people are happy. The person may not have been competent or he may have had a personality conflict that you would not have, etc. There isa big differnce inteh kind of information you get from someone who was leaving just ahead of getting fired and someone who left because he relocated to another city. – HLGEM Jun 12 '12 at 18:18
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Absolutely. As another answer has said, don't say "reference". Just say "Can I talk privately with a few other employees about the company?". Notice, I said privately. It's amazing how much more someone will open up if no one else is around. Pay attention to how they act. Ask them if they like working there. If they hesitate before answering, that's a bad sign.

Don't be afraid to ask for things like this. You are looking at changing careers. You have much more to lose than they do. Put yourself in the driver's seat. Don't let the employer drive everything.

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While I would say it can be fair, there are some possible issues you may run across in some cases. If the company is a start-up there may not be developers and managers to discuss the company. Alternatively, some companies may have non-disclosure agreements that may limit what could be discussed between someone who wants to interview the company if you are getting a job in a sensitive area.

For example, if you are going to be a developer within an IS department that is just being started to be brought in-house there may not be other developers and managers to discuss. In other cases, you may have to be careful of how far back you go in looking at former employees as where a company is now may not be the same as where it was a few years previously.

Overall, it is good to ask the question and see what kind of response you get. Does the interviewer seem uncomfortable answering it? Do they understand why it is being asked? It may be a very interesting can of worms to my mind.

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