How to Research a Company before an Interview

Posted 2 months ago by David Sweet


One of the best ways to ace an interview is to make sure you know about the company before having the interview. In less than twenty minutes, you can learn a great deal about a company, what they do, and their short and long-term goals. In addition, public companies are easier to research than private companies as are international companies compared to local companies. For Japan specific, the information may be less accessible than the information for other countries. However, with the Internet, there is usually more than enough material for you to prepare yourself for an interview.

Click here to read in Japanese (日本語版はこちら

  • JOB DESCRIPTION. A great place to start in understanding a company. Realize that most job descriptions... JDs are written by HR and the actual duties often differ from the actual job. Also, JDs may be outdated.
    • Look at how the company is described. Does it look forward? Sound like a growing company? Or is stability emphasized?
    • Is the JD free-form or a template? A free-form tells you the company has less structure; templates show there is better systems in place... at least in HR.
    • Are the duties specific or general--most positions prefer a team player. Ask yourself: " Is the opposite readily unwanted?" then you know it's fluff. For example: "Good communication skills." The opposite is: "Bad communication skills." Obviously, few jobs need poor communication skills.

  • COMPANY WEBSITE. This may seem a no-brainer, but I still meet many people who neglect looking at the website prior to the interview. Look at what the company does (product/service), people, and open positions. In Japan you can find great information on a site that tells you the company capital, employees, and focus.

  • ANNUAL REPORT. If a public company, look at the annual report. Don't be afraid of the 100 pages--you don't need to read them all. Do two things:
    1. Read the summary from the CEO.
    2. Use the search function key on your computer (Ctrl+F) and search the words "Japan" and "Asia" and see what you can find. Usually see what has been happening in the country. If Japan is not there, then you know that the company is more local and that Head Quarters pays less attention or the revenue is low.

  • SOCIAL NETWORKS. Can you find the company on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook? You can find out about the company and individuals who work in the company, their interests, and career paths.

  • NEWS. Search Google or Yahoo for news on the company. See if anything recent has been happening.

Here is a "Company Research Sheet," a document that could help you in your job search. Feel free to print it out and fill in. Does not need to be filled neatly or fully, just enough to make you understand the company. If you have any questions, contact