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?
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.
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.
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.