In the past decade whenever I have a job interview, I always ask for the list of folks that I’ll be interviewing with before I actually arrive for the interview. Why? Because I want to stalk them, of course.
Right so, I don’t actually want to stalk them, mostly what I want to do is figure out where their head is at, what they care about, what they do when they’re not working for the company. I actually have no interest where they live or what their phone number might be unless that detail somehow gives me additional detail for their cultural profile.
This knowledge gives me a very solid advantage walking into an interview. For example, in a recent stint of interviewing, I discovered one of my potential peers went to the same college. I was sure to mention this when the interview began which was handy because, as it turns out, this interview was going to be the terribly difficult technical interview where I was to ramble about Model-View-Controllers.
When it became clear that I was seriously stumbling with the details of my answer, the interviewee took mercy… he segued to our mutual college experience. Whew. This would not have occurred if I hadn’t taken the time to stalk and find a common ground.
BUT! This column is about interviewing stalking tips, it’s about stalking…
I’m interested in ways folks use the ‘Net to find stuff out about folks. Again, I’m really not that interested in finding out personal details like phone numbers and home addresses (unfortunately, I suspect this will be a natural side effect of these operations), what I’m looking for are handy slash clever ways that folks dig up information via the web.
To get us started, I’ll describe the web sites and processed I used for the interviewees above. For all of these, I’m assuming I have a full name that is correctly spelled. Also, as is the nature of the interview, I generally know the state that the interviewee lives in.
GOOGLE. Duh, no extra points for this one. For someone who has any type of virtual presence, this is usually the one stop shop for finding out tasty info-tid-bits.
GOOGLE GROUPS. Again, fairly obvious, but also very targeted. This search assumes a person posts to USENET groups which means they KNOW how to do so. If you’re looking at non-technical types, you won’t find much here.
SAMSPADE.ORG. This is more of a second level search once you’ve ascertained that your stalkee has a website or an email address. Lots of technical mumbo jumbo here.
YAHOO! PEOPLE SEARCH. I haven’t used this much since, as stated, I don’t much care to find out where stalkee’s live or if they have a phone. People Search can give you a home numbers, but, more importantly, it can give you email addresses. Again, if you’re talking about a technical non-AOL user, this can be very revealing.
Via Yahoo People, I also found USSEARCH.COM. Using their free service I instantly found my home town and age … which is kind’a freaky. More freakiness was discovered when I found for anywhere from $19.95 to $95.95 I could find relatives, roommates, neighbors, real estate ownership status, and much much more. Shudder.
Again, all of the resources listed above are only as useful as you are smart. You may well find very little about the person you’re interested in. In fact, you may be even be able to find the person in the morass of bits that is the Internet.
Which is why I’ll ask again, what are the sites and processes that folks use to find out stuff about folks on the ‘Net. I’m not just interested in useful websites, I’m wanna hear about processes folks go through (possibly using multiple sites?) to dig up useful information.
Best answer gets a Jerkcity postcard signed by Rands.