As an accounting or finance professional with 2017 in the back of your mind, you may already be thinking about your next career opportunity. And while there is a lot of work and effort you want to put into your resume and portfolio before you even send out an application, there is one area of preparation you may want to get a head start on.
“If you’re in accounting or finance, researching a company before an interview is imperative to your success” says Michael Bennett, a Senior Account Executive within the Execu|Search Group’s Accounting and Finance division, “If you put in the time to not only familiarize yourself with the company, but other factors as well, you can really set yourself apart from your competition and leave a strong impression on the hiring manager.”
Before going in for an interview, here are four areas you’ll want to study:
The company website
At the very least, you’ll want to go into the interview with a strong understanding of the company, its history, and any information about them that may have recently been in the news. Before your interview, make sure that you dedicate some time to researching the company’s website. Start off by reading the company’s “About” section and “Leadership Page” and seeing whether or not they have recently been featured in the news. Have they been recognized as a firm in the industry? Has anyone on their staff presented at a respected conference recently? Having an idea of what the company has been doing recently will make you stand out!
Your professional contacts
Since there are plenty of opportunities to network within the finance industry, there is a solid chance that one of your professional contacts has some sort of connection to the company you’re applying to. If you’re looking to gain some insight into how the company functions or what the overall professional atmosphere is like, reach out to one of your peers and see if they can answer any questions you may have. If you don’t know someone who has directly worked for the company, you may know someone who does. Don’t be shy about reaching out to someone and asking them for the contact information of someone they know who works there; doing so can provide you with valuable information that can help you during the interview!
Michael says that once you have scheduled an interview, it’s a great idea to put some time into researching the interviewer and their past work history. “By showing the interviewer that you’ve taken the time to learn about their background, you’re demonstrating that you are interested in more than just working for the company; you’re also interested in getting to know your potential co-workers too.”
Before the interview, be sure to look up the interviewer on any professional and networking sites where their work information is listed. Take some time going over their LinkedIn profile so you can have an idea of what their work history is like and whether or not there are parallels between yours and their career trajectories. And, if it’s there, see if the company’s website has a bio listed for the interviewer; it could give you some additional information about what they have recently contributed to the company that may not be listed on their LinkedIn.
The company’s competitors
According to Michael, what can impress a hiring manager the most about a candidate isn’t necessarily how much they know about the company they’re applying for; sometimes, what is most impressive is how much that candidate knows about the company’s industry as a whole.
“I would strongly encourage anyone interviewing for a job to research the competitors of the company that they’re interviewing for,” Michael emphasizes. “It can show a company that’s interested in hiring you that you’re extremely knowledgeable about the industry and where the company fits in among the industry. Any way you can show the depth of your knowledge to an interviewer can serve as a huge asset in your favor.”