Research your interviewer.


If your resume got some attention and you’ve been invited for an interview, congratulations!

In fact, in the last month or so, I’ve interviewed dozens of folks for two different roles at emdash. In the last round of the interviews, one person spoke to me for almost an hour and we discussed a wide range of topics — religion, sexual orientation (not theirs, in general), feminism etc.

And then she asked me: “What’s your role in the organization?”

LOL. It’s never a good sign when you are not aware who you’re speaking to. Here are a few things you can do.

When you get an interview scheduled by a recruiter/HR person, ask who the interviewer is going to be and note their name down. Google them. Find them on LinkedIn or their company page (many companies have a helpful “Our Team” page that might have more information). Try to find out their background and position in the company. And in what capacity will you be interacting with them.

Example: If you’re applying for a sales role and you’re scheduled to talk with a regional sales manager, that gives you an idea of what they might expect from you.

It’s also good practice to ask what kind of interview it’s going to be. Is it going to be a technical round, or is it going to be any other kind — for instance, at ThoughtWorks, I had a ‘social justice’ round?

If you’re not able to find details about the interviewer, ask the recruiter/HR person. If that doesn’t work, you could ask them during the interview.

The first question typically is the infamous “Tell me about yourself.” At the end of your answer, you could casually ask, “Would you mind briefly telling me a little bit about yourself and your role in the organization?”

However, there’s also the danger that the other person might make something of it that it’s not. For instance, when the candidate asked me that question, I realised my blunder. I said, “I’m so sorry, I should’ve started with that. My name is Ranjani. I’m the founder. I’m a writer,” etc. But another person might react with, “Jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai?” Either way, you’ll know what kind of company it is, in the process.

Key takeaway: Know who you are talking to and be prepared to talk to that person within their context. Don’t just answer questions that you’ve been asked. Have a real conversation — your interviewer is also a real person (no matter who their father is!). This would also show the interviewer your initiative and interest in their company.