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How to properly reach out to former employees of a company I'm Interviewing/Negotiating with?

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Data Engineer at Financial Company2 months ago

When researching a company to find out:

  1. The kind of work they do there
  2. The culture

... the best thing I can think of to do is find former employees on LinkedIn and ask them. This helps me do well in the interviews (because I know what the company does and often what role I'm filling) and know whether I should accept a job (if the company is not toxic).

My question is, is there some kind of limit to the number of people I reach out to? Right now, I reach out to 5 people, and usually at least 3 get back to me pretty quickly. I find 3 is usually enough to get the info I'm looking for, particularly if they were on the team/department I'm interviewing with.

I feel like the answer to this depends on the size of the company. If it's a small startup, there might be more risk involved in asking folks because it can get back to people in the company. And even if it's not a startup, asking 20 former employees for their thoughts doesn't seem smart or reasonable, even if it does involve sending the same message to each.

Curious to get people's thoughts.




  • 5
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    Software Engineer @ Tesla
    2 months ago


    Great question, I don't think there's a limit of people to reach out to. You're totally right that it depends on the size of the company. I think a 3/5 response rate is pretty strong. So, good for you!

    I would try to personalize each message instead of sending a copy-paste message though but that's just me. I usually reach out to 5-10 folks when I'm trying to inquire for information.

    Hope that helps!

  • 2
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    Eng @ Taro
    2 months ago

    I would reach out to enough people where you have enough signal to make a good decision. If you are asking active employees, I would also try to read between the lines to make sure they aren't trying to hint at something negative without actually saying it out loud.

  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    2 months ago

    This is a pretty smart thing to do actually - Why didn't I think of this back when I was interviewing πŸ˜…

    3 seems fine to me, and I would cap it at 5 personally. I think it's a good balance between too few and too many. I agree that asking 20 former employees would be overkill, mostly due to the massive time spent and diminishing signal (I'm not as worried about it getting back to the company).

    Here's some additional resources about finding good fit: [Taro Top 10] How To Find A Good Engineering Team And Company

  • 1
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    Data Engineer [OP]
    Financial Company
    a month ago

    Thanks Xua, Charlie, and Alex!

    @Alex, I did get this idea from you! Point #2 in your answer here. You weren't talking specifically about former employees, but that's how I interpreted it!