Tips for Korean Americans Applying to Korean Companies

Korean Americans can bring a lot of value to Korean companies. Mainly because they understand Korean working culture and fluent in English. If you can speak Korean that is a huge plus. Since I have worked with Korean startups and worked for large Korean companies, let me give you some tips when interviewing for a position at a Korean company. In Korea, it is not only important to nail the interview, but you also have to master the informal interpersonal aspects of the interview. Here are some tips to make sure you land a promising job with a Korean company.

Make sure you understand the Korean Office Culture

Korean Office Culture
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Most Koreans have a mutually understanding of Korean office culture but if have not grown up in Korea, it might take some time to get caught up on it. If you don’t know the Korean language it will take you a lot longer. There are basically 3 key features of the Korean Office Culture

  • Never question authority publicly – This might have been built in during the military service years Korean men have to go through. Korean Americans might be able to get away with this at a certain level because they bring a different way of thinking to the table. But in general, it is important to never question authority out in the open.
  • Show up early and leaving late – Korean companies expect or sometimes demand you never be even a minute late. However, to leave exactly on time is also frowned upon. While working hours might be set, expect to work an extra 1-2 hours a day. This is because most Korean companies, looks are still important.
  • Company dinners/lunches are mandatoryKorean company lunches and dinners are used for team building in Korea. Therefore, look for these as an opportunity to bond with co-workers rather than an obligation. Dinners will involve a lot of drinking and multiple locations. If you can’t drink or have plans, try to still make the event.

Likely Questions for Korean Americans

The basic question you will be asked is to tell them about yourself. Koreans go over resumes beforehand so they already know your basic details. What they want to know about you is what is not on the resume. Don’t focus on hobbies but rather the qualities that separate you from other applicants. In the case of Korean Americans, the key value you can bring is your ability to help them globally. When Korean companies ask for strengths and weaknesses try to give specific examples for each. What I used as my weakness was my low ability to speak Korean. However, I was able to turn that into a strength by showing how quickly I was able to improve my Korean skills.

Research the Korean company

If you can address the companies needs to them, that will show your value right away. First, look at the team members of the Korean company. Are they mostly Korean? How strong is their global sector? Then look at the company itself. When it was founded and who they are partnered with. An example could be if the company lacks a strong presence in the US and you can try to position yourself to lead the expansion into the US market.

Provide a Solution to a Problem

Figure out one challenge that you think the Korean company might face or is likely to face in the future. Then, determine the ways in which you can resolve the problem. It can be something simple as finding a mistake on their website or whitepaper. Adding your value right away will show the company your potential.

With these quick tips, you will be a lot more ready to land the job. Korean companies are always looking for global talent to be able to show your worth as well as your desire to embrace Korean culture.