The 5 W’s (And An H): How To Research A Company So You Get Hired

By Brian Stewart

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Orin Zebest via Flickr

Orin Zebest via Flickr


During your job search, if you find a promising job opportunity, you can maximize your chances of advancing through the application process with in-depth research. Doing so will help you cater your resume and cover letter so you get a job interview, and then help you ace the interview.

But it’s also important to know what information is most relevant for you while conducting your research. You can save yourself a lot of time by using the structure of the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How series of questions.

Who are they?

First, you’ll want to learn about the company and who the hiring manager is. For the company, you’ll want to check their website and their profiles on job boards such as Indeed or Monster. Find out about their main products and services, and what their mission statement is.

For the hiring manager’s name, check the job posting first. Barring that, look for it on the company’s website and social media profiles, or try calling or e-mailing their HR department. Finding out about the hiring manager can help you further fine tune your application according to what will most appeal to them.

What do they want?

Next, you’ll need to know about the job. More specifically, you’ll want to find three bits of information:

  • What are the important skills they want you to have?
  • What are the main responsibilities you’ll be expected to fulfill?
  • What is the position’s place in the company’s internal structure?

Combing through the job posting will give you some basic answers. Along with the “who” section above, this represents the baseline of what you absolutely must know. Without it, you’re severely lowering your chances at ever hearing back from them, much less being hired.

When is the deadline?

It sounds pretty straightforward, but it’s still useful to know the cut-off date for applications. Every job posting receives a substantial number of applications, and research has shown that you’re more likely to be hired if you apply within the first week.

So if the job was posted more than one week ago, you might not want to do as much research as other postings where you have a better chance of being hired. Ideally you would have a buffer of at least couple of days so you have time to hear back from any e-mail or phone inquiries you might make.

Where are they at?

For an in-depth idea of the situation the company is in, you can do some thorough research into the following areas:

  • Their past—the company’s foundation and history.
  • Their present—the company’s current projects and performance.
  • Their future—the company’s hopes and plans for the short and long-term.

The company’s website, especially their “About Us” page, is a good place to start. To dig deeper, search for news and financial reports about the company—make sure you’re using reliable sources and confirmed information. You want to know if the company is on the decline, holding steady, or growing, and if their culture is more traditional or ‘cutting edge’.

Why is it a good fit?

This is where you learn if the job is right for you. There are three important questions that you should be asking yourself throughout the entire hiring process:

  • Will I fit with the company’s culture?
  • Will I be put in a position to succeed?
  • Will this job help advance my career?

If you really want to get an idea of what it’s like working for the company, you can try checking sites like Glassdoor or Vault for reviews of companies from people who have worked for them. You can take it a step further and see if you can directly contact someone currently working for them, through a phone call, e-mail, or in-person meeting over coffee or lunch.

How to use this information?

The goal of your research is to get an idea for how to sell yourself as someone who suits their idea of an ideal candidate. Ultimately, there are three parts of the hiring process where you can put this information to use:

  • Building your Resume
  • Writing your Cover Letter
  • Conducting your interview

For your resume, you can play up your skills that they seem to most covet. With your cover letter, you can show them how you fit with the company’s goals and culture. In your interview, you can them that you have the make-up and ability to solve whatever problems they’d require you to face.


If there’s one lesson to take from this article, it’s that researching for a job is important. At the very least you should spend some time getting to know the basics about the company and the job, so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. If you have the time and it’s for a job you really want, it’s well worth the effort to take it even further. Hopefully this guide will help simplify the process for you! provides professional resume writing services for clients of all career levels across North America. We are the only resume writing company that offers a professionally written resume coupled with the guidance of recruiters, to guarantee that your resume will get results. Tweet us with any resume questions you have at, we’re here to help! 

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