This semester, I had the privilege of working as an intern at the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association. I learned a lot, met a ton of great people and created several great marketing pieces that I’ll add to my employment portfolio.
With the academic year wrapping up, my boss asked me to pitch the job description to my sorority sisters to see if any of them would be interested in filling my role for the following semester. I shared the internship description; four sisters applied and, as I left for the weekend, I told my boss I was confident in each of their abilities.
When I returned to the office that Monday, I was excited to hear about how their interviews had gone. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that my boss wasn’t very pleased with the applicants I referred.
She then told me that even though they all had impressive resumes, she ultimately did not choose them. Why? Because when asked what they knew about our organization, they flat out told her that they did not do any research on the company before the interview.
I was stunned.
This was by far the worst interview mistake… ever!
Listen up, Job and Internship Seekers!
Researching a company before you contact them is the golden rule when job hunting. If you don’t complete this simple task, it will cost you the position, as exemplified above. Even if you think you know everything about the company, give yourself a distinct competitive advantage for your interview through research:
- Research will give you a good idea of the kind of work you’ll be doing
- Research may reveal an area the company could improve upon (and you can impress the interviewer with your ideas)
- Research will help you come up with questions to ask during the interview
- Best of all, you can do this research on your own (no private investigation team needed!)
Here are a few easy ways to research a company before an interview:
Visit the Company Website
This is only step one, but it’s an important start. You’ll get a sense of the work they do, the product mix, level of customer focus, the company’s culture and more. All of your research should begin here, and you should check back often for updates to the page.
Thoroughly Review the Company’s Social Media Profiles
Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr – you name it, they are probably there. Thoroughly research the company online, especially if you’re applying for a PR, marketing, or social media position. This will give you a sense of the “voice” of the organization and will provide some insight into the company’s culture as well.
Research the News
You can easily see whether the company has been mentioned by searching for it in Google “News”. You’ll find information that might not have been posted by the organization directly, which is good because that type of information hasn’t been “cleaned” by the company’s PR Department. Whether good or bad, news articles provide un-biased insight that may help you decide if you would be a good fit for the company.
Preparing for an interview involves much more than printing your resume and ironing your best outfit.
Don’t risk losing an opportunity because of a careless, even lazy, mistake: not researching the company ahead of time.
Do the work of looking into an organization before you walk into the office. By the time you leave, the recruiter will more likely be convinced you are the right fit for the company – and the job!
About the Author: Emily is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh where she majors in Communications and is working toward a certificate in Public and Professional Writing. She also served as the PR and Social Media Coordinator for her service sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma. Emily Tweets regularly and blogs.