For students studying in Japan, or those overseas who wish to move to Japan, you may be interested in applying for a job at a Japanese company. In general, unless you are in the IT field, you will need strong Japanese skills. However, there is more to acing your interview than just speaking Japanese. Here are some tips for preparing for your interview at a Japanese company.
Tip 1 – Prepare answers to commonly asked questions in advance
There are some questions that are likely to appear in any standard Japanese job interview. You should practice answering these in advance as it can be hard to think on the spot in your non-native language.
First, they will likely start off with some easy questions to test your Japanese level. These may be questions like:
- How long have you been in Japan?
- What do you think about Japan?
- How long do you plan to stay in Japan?
- Why did you come to Japan?
They will then ask you some questions about yourself, fairly easy questions in English, but good to practice answering in Japanese. These questions may include topics like:
Your introduction (jikoshoukai)
- Your education
- Your goals for the future
- Your employment history
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Your hobbies
- Why you applied for the job
Then there will be more different questions. These could be things like:
- An in-depth explanation of your studies or current job
- Why you want to work for this company
- What can you bring to the company
- How do you envision your career 5 years from now
- What would you like to achieve in this role
- What is your greatest achievement so far
- Describe a situation in the past where you have made a mistake or had a problem, and how did you overcome it
- Do you have any questions (prepare a couple in advance)
Tip 2 – Bring all the necessary documents
Make sure you come prepared, not only with your knowledge and wit, but also documents you may potentially need. These necessary items may include:
- Your residence card/ID
- Proof you are authorised to work (eg: your visa category)
- Any Japanese language certifications
- Your passport
- Your CV, printed, in both English and Japanese
Tip 3 – Use Keigo (formal Japanese)
You want to sound like an intelligent, highly educated candidate. Therefore, using slang and casual Japanese is not a good idea. As much as your language level allows, use formal phrasing and honorifics.
Tip 4 – Presentation is important
How you look matters. Attend the interview with your hair neatly styled, minimal makeup, a clean and ironed black or navy suit and clean shoes. Also remember to smile and not fidget too much, as you want to convey your positive and relaxed attitude (difficult in an interview, we know!).
Tip 5 – Don’t be late
This is an obvious one, but being on time is even more important in Japan than it is back home. In fact, on time isn’t even enough, you should make sure to be at least 10 minutes early. Scope out the route in advance if necessary, and don’t trust their directions without checking yourself, they can be confusing.
Tip 6 – Follow the Japanese customs
As you are interviewing for a Japanese company, it is a good idea to appear knowledgable on local customs. This means doing things like:
- Knocking three times before entering the room, then saying “shitsurei shimasu” (excuse me) and bowing when you enter.
- Annoucing yourself when you enter “(name) to moshimasu, yorishiku onegai itashimasu” (my name is __, it’s a pleasure to meet you).
- Don’t sit down until the interviewer signals for you to do so
- Do not cross your arms or legs, this is rude
- Say “Honjitsu wa ojikan wo itadaki, arigato gozaimashita” (thank you for the interview) and bow as you leave.
All of this can be quite overwhelming, so if you would like to hire a native Japanese speaker to role play and practice the interview scenario with you in advance, let us know by email at email@example.com.