Job interviews are generally the last step and the deciding factor in getting your dream job. Compared to other countries, employers in Japan have specific expectations from job seekers in an interview. Let's discuss some of the common questions asked during interviews and some other tips that might help you nail that interview.
In Japan, a lot of emphasis is placed upon hiring people for longer terms. Thus interviews are viewed as an integral part of hiring, where the employer tries to find an employee who will strive for excellence.
As a general rule of thumb, when you go for a job interview, you must know what the company does in general. It gives you an advantage over someone who is not well prepared. Apart from that, it is good to know what kind of questions to expect and how you must carry yourself during the interview. The overall impression you make on the interviewer will be the deciding factor for your employment.
Preparations before the interview
Even though employers on WORK JAPAN are open to hiring foreigners, it is good to know some Japanese apart from the casual phrases, especially if you are working with a Japanese company. Learn frequently used words and phrases as well as answers to some of the basic questions asked during interviews. You can take help of online language tools (like Google Translate) or even some YouTube videos.
There is a small possibility that your interview might be in English, but since Japanese employers lay a lot of emphasis on the Japanese business culture, knowing certain rules will work in your favor.
Always keep a copy of your updated resume at hand - a soft copy and a clean printout. Nowadays, many employers are taking interviews online. And they have your resume available with them based on details you have shared in the WORK JAPAN app. Make sure the phone number and other details in the app are up to date.
Review questions that are commonly asked in interviews and prepare your answers in advance - your background, career goals, qualifications or any relevant experience. Give clear to-the-point answers.
If your interview is in person, carry a clean printout of your resume with your picture on top. You will find templates for Japanese resumes online, like this.
Japanese employers usually prefer applicants to wear formal attire for interviews, whether online or in-person. This would mean a dress shirt and solid colored pants for men and neutral or dark colored pants/skirt for women, with matching black or dark formal shoes. Your hair and nails should be well-groomed. Jeans or other informal clothing should be avoided even for part time jobs.
The first business principal followed by anyone in Japan is being on time. Whether in-person or online interview, you should be present for it at least 10 minutes before the time of the interview. This shows respect for the employer and others who will be spending time on taking the interview. This will also ensure you can resolve any technical issues for online interviews or contact the employer in advance in case you are late (due to traffic or losing your way).
In fact, if you think you are going to be late for the interview for any reason, make sure you call up the employer and inform them. You can find the employer's phone number on the Job/Interview detail page in the WORK JAPAN app.
Another thing you should take care of is keeping your phone switched off or silent during the time of the interview. Your phone going off during the interview leaves a terrible impression on the employer.
Being polite to your interviewer is another thing which will make a good impression on the employer. For instance, knocking on the door before entering or bowing when you greet and before you leave are culturally important in Japan. Instead of shaking hands, bowing is more acceptable in Japan.
You should be polite not only in manner but also with words. Learn the phrases generally used when greeting employers or before leaving. For instance, saying thank you at the end of an interview - "Arigatou gozaimashita" (ありがとうございました).
During the interview
During interviews in Japan, there are some norms which are expected from potential employees. These are small but important. For instance,
- Do not cross your legs and keep both feet on the ground
- Hand in your resume while holding it with both hands
- Place your hands on your thighs while sitting with your knees pressed together
If you are unsure of the question asked by the employer, ask them to repeat it again. Do not panic, instead, think and give a well-worded answer.
If given the opportunity to ask questions, do not negotiate about salary or perks. Instead ask questions about your job responsibilities. The employer will most likely inform you about the expected salary themselves.
After the interview
Every employer is different, as is every organization. At the end of an interview, some employers might give you an answer immediately, while some others might take time. When your interview is through, when the employer makes a decision, they will either call you to inform about it OR update the status in the WORK JAPAN app.
Keep track of the status in the app by going to the Interview list page. If you do not hear from the employer after a week, you can either call them to confirm the status OR leave feedback in the app informing us about the same and we will get in touch with the employer.
Overall, interviews in Japan can be a little different compared to other western countries. A lot of emphasis is placed on courtesy and customs. Be sincere and honest with your answers, behave politely and give the interviewer respect and it is not that difficult to land a job in Japan.