Family Magazine

Investigate Potential Employers with Reverse Reference Checks

By Michelle Merritt @michellemerritt
Investigate Potential Employers with Reverse Reference Checks

Everybody knows that you Google a first date. But did you know that you should Google your potential employer, too?

Among the job-search trends that Fast Company magazine reported in 2016 was an increasing number of job hunters performing reverse reference checks. Instead of relying on the company's help-wanted ad for insight into the corporate culture and philosophies, job seekers will do some investigating of their own.

It's a smart idea. Before you get into a long-term relationship with a company, you want to be sure that it's a happy place that represents your beliefs and values, treats its employees well and operates above-board.

So how does one get the real scoop on a company's way of doing business? Here are some places to search and questions to ask:

Scope out their site. You should be reviewing a potential employer's website anyway to gather talking points for your interview. While you're there, look for clues to culture. Are there articles or photos about employee events or philanthropic projects?

Get on Google. Look for news and images about the company online. Don't forget to put in the names of key leaders as well.

Look at LinkedIn. See whether the company has a business page and, if so, what they post. Don't forget again to look up the profiles of management. You'll get bonus points when they see you've done your homework.

Seek social media presences. When you find them, stay in touch by following the organization on each platform. Not only is it an effective reverse reference check, but it's also a great way to demonstrate interest in the company.

Evaluate employee reviews. Sites such as and provide extremely revealing insight from actual employees of your potential employer. Look for trends, positive or negative. (You can also score interview intel from Glassdoor.)

Canvas consumer review sites. Does the company treat its clientele right? Take a peek at sites like the Better Business Bureau-you don't want to have to face a steady stream of customers unhappy about the way the organization does business.

Check with your connections. Potential employers likely are watching your social network activities, so try to avoid posting broad requests for feedback as part of your reverse reference check. Your network might share a flood of negativity that could be irrelevant to your position but hurt your chances. Instead, selectively message plugged-in friends, and ask them if they would reach out to their contacts as well.

Seize the day. During your interview, pose questions about the corporate culture. Ask the hiring manager about average tenure, group events and the like. If you get a chance to talk to current employees, ask what they like most about working there and what they might like to change, if anything.

Performing reverse reference checks is one trend we're happy to see. You're not at the mercy of every employer who calls; a little investigating might reveal that this date could lead to an unhappy relationship!

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