8 ways to research a prospective accountancy employer
In our last two blogs, we’ve looked at various aspects of the interview process –
- the interview questions an accountancy Practice should be asking of their candidates
- interview techniques – the dos and don’ts for the interview itself.
As recruiters for the accountancy sector, we see part of our role as supporting candidates in any way we can, to find them the perfect placement. In this blog, let’s look at the critical aspect of pre-interview company research.
Career experts always stress the importance of finding out as much as you can about your prospective employer. This seems obvious. But it’s not as easy as you might think.
What are the best research techniques? Where’s the best place to find information about the accountancy firm you want to work for? Is it enough to carry out a simple Google search, followed by a scan through the Practice’s website? Unsurprisingly, the answer is ‘no’. Your research needs to be thorough and in-depth. The more you find out, the more you’ll impress your interviewers.
But equally, by being rigorous, you might also turn up information that puts doubts in your mind as to whether the Practice is right for you. So – for more than one reason, thorough research is a must.
Quite possibly, the very question you’re asked at interview will be along the lines of –
“What do you know about our Practice?”
Give a poor answer and you might as well give up and go home. Answer it well, with the right amount of detail and you’re off to a flyer. You’ve instantly demonstrated to your interviewer that you’re genuinely interested in their Practice, rather than in just getting yourself a job.
Don’t forget that there’s also that all-important final question –
“Do you have any questions for us?”
Here’s where you can really impress by demonstrating how thorough you’ve been. The fact that you’ve been diligent in your research will speak volumes about your diligence and commitment.
So, let’s look at the best way to carry out your research –
You need to discover as much as you can about
- the Practice
- its partners
- its specialisms
- its clients
- its vision and ethos.
You need this information, but you need to find it legitimately and without giving the impression that you’ve been, in any way, stalking the Practice.
1. Visit the Practice website.
This is a good place to start. This will give you the company’s ‘party line’ – what they want their prospective clients to know about them. The About Us page should tell you about the history of the Practice, about their ethos and vision. Look at the other pages.
The Our Services pages should give you an idea as to the Practice’s preferred client (SMEs? Corporates?). They should also help you learn about any niches or specialisms that they focus on. Then, look around at the other pages.
Take a look at the Blog posts (or perhaps they call it Our News). You might read here about awards they’ve won, or local fund-raising or team-building exercises they’ve carried out.
Do they have a vacancies page? This too can be a helpful guide as to the company’s direction.
2. Use the search engines
Look for reviews. Find out how closely the ‘party line’ matches up to what clients think of their services. This might help you answer the interview question,
“If you join our Practice, in what areas do you think you can help us to improve?”
3. Check out the LinkedIn Company Page
This is distinct from the ‘profiles’ of the partners. Many companies don’t have a LinkedIn page. If the Practice does have one, you might well find out some articles and news, not mentioned on the website.
4. Look at the partners’ LinkedIn profiles
Read any articles they’ve posted. Find out about their backgrounds, their experience, their specialisms, their interests. Have they worked previously at a Practice where someone you know works? Perfect. Phone your acquaintance and ask about the character, experience and interest of the partner or interviewer. Any information, favourable or otherwise, can be helpful. What if you don’t the names of your interviewer(s)? Simple. Phone the Practice and ask. They’re sure to tell you.
5. Make a wider online search of the partners
Google the names of the partners. Is there any trace of conferences they’ve addressed or seminars that they’ve run? Are there any videos?
7. Take a look at Glassdoor.com
Not every company appears on Glassdoor.com. This is a website where employees (past or present) offer anonymous feedback on the company. Past interviewees also post reviews of their interview experience. Two points to keep in mind –
- Your prospective employer might not appear on the website
- Take the reviews with a hefty tablespoonful of salt. Negative reviews may well be posted by disgruntled present or past employees. The same goes for unsuccessful interviewees. Nonetheless, you may get a flavour of the company ethos, so it’s worth a look.
8. Browse social media pages
If the Practice has a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account, you might find out yet more useful information. Perhaps, you’ll learn about events they’ve attended, such as networking and fund-raising. Do they support a charity with which you have a connection? Like or follow the company well before the interview date. You may well stumble upon information you wouldn’t have otherwise found.
The interview – how to use your research
Your company research will make your responses to questions compelling. You’ll be able to demonstrate convincingly how much of a benefit you’ll be to the company.
A word of warning. Don’t go overboard, shouting about how much you know about the Practice. Be subtle and sensitive. There’s no need to show off about what you’ve learned. Your interviewers aren’t stupid. They’ll know you’ve researched their Practice. What matters is how well you’ve analysed and distilled that research; how skillfully you use the information you’ve gleaned to give accurate and helpful answers to their questions.
We’re specialist recruiters in the accountancy sector. We’d welcome the opportunity to discuss your career opportunities with you. Do call us. We’d love to hear from you.
Telephone – 0333 577 7787
Or complete our submission form.