How to Prepare For a Japanese Job Interview?
If you’ve been dreaming of working in Japan, and you’ve finally received a job interview proposition, now it the time to learn how to prepare for a Japanese job interview.
If you are not familiar with how you can work in Japan, check out our guide for working in Japan.
What to do after receiving a job interview position?
Step 1: Self-introduction
Step 2: Frequent questions & answers
Knowledge and interest in the company
Step 3: Manners
Step 4: What you should avoid!
Step 5: Closing off the interview
What to do after receiving a job interview proposition?
The first step of your preparation is no more different than what you would do in your homeland: studying the company profile and philosophy will help you make sure that you are up to date with the company’s latest news.
The next step is to train yourself and practice for your interview. Check what questions could be asked and prepare in advance what your answers might be! If you know that your interview will be in Japanese, it is extremely important to be comfortable with the vocabulary that could come up. If the interview is planned to be in English, you must still be prepared for the interviewer to check your Japanese level.
Keep in mind that we are only providing some basic examples! You can be more elaborate and polite, but we advise you to keep it simple if your level of Japanese is limited. Do not let your Japanese proficiency stop you from applying! You do not need a high level of Business Japanese to apply for a position. Just do your best by preparing a self-introduction with the vocabulary you know and rock your Japanese job interview!
Step 1: Self-introduction
You will highly likely be asked to present yourself, as it is customary in Japan. Train your listening ability to understand what the person is asking.
自己紹介をお願いします。(Please present about yourself.)
Practice your self-introduction. It includes telling where you are from, your name and some other information about you that could be relevant. For example, a previous working experience in Japan.
“I am Antonio Garcia and I am from a city famous for its orange in Spain, Valencia. This is my third time to Japan and last time I worked in a restaurant in Osaka.”
Step 2: Frequent Questions & Answers
Depending on the job you have applied for, the range of questions will vary. An effective way to prepare is searching on the internet for what kind of questions could be asked by this specific company. When you prepare the answer, be short and precise. Japanese people like straightforward answers and it prevents you from making Japanese language mistakes.
いつ日本に来ましたか？ (When did you come to Japan?)
A very good and straight to the point answer would be “2014年3月に来ました”. I arrived in Japan in March 2014.
The type of answer you should avoid: “前の会社でプロジェクトマネージャーをしていて、日本のお客さんと一緒に仕事をしました。そのとき日本にいる同僚が忙しくなったため、私が日本に来ることになりました”.
“I was a project manager in my previous company. I was working with Japanese clients. At that time, because my colleague based in Japan was very busy, I was sent to Japan.”
長所・短所は何ですか。 (Could you tell us about your strengths and weaknesses?)
趣味は何ですか (What is your hobby?)
The workplace is not only about work: it is also a community where it is important for everyone to share. Thus, the interviewer might want to know you better to see if you are the right fit for their company culture. It is important to show your passion in the things that you like to do to present yourself well.
The interview will also focus on why you wish to work in Japan. Be sincere and positive about what you like! Do not hesitate to emphasize that you like Japan! Things such as the cities, culture, etc and why. Of course, they will also want to know your past experiences, achievements, strengths and weaknesses.
どうして日本で働きたいですか。 (Why do you want to work in Japan?)
今までどんな仕事しましたか (What kind of work have you done until now?)
Knowledge and interest in the company:
うちの会社について何を知っていますか。(What do you know about our company?)
The company will be curious to know why you have applied and you should think deeply about your reasons. Of course, we know that applicants might have applied to several places especially when their goal is to find work in Japan.
どうしてうちの会社に応募しましたか。(Why did you apply to our company?)
As a foreigner, your Japanese proficiency would be one of their concerns. Be sure not to skip the preparation for this part! If you have already taken the JLPT, state your results and precisely how often you study!
日本語はどのぐらい話せますか。(How well can you speak Japanese?)
- 2015年12月にN2に合格しました: (I passed the JLPT N2 in December 2015.)
- 3ヶ月日本語学校で週に５日３時間を勉強しました。(I studied 3 hours 5 days a week for 3 months in a Japanese school.)
You are doing great. The interview is almost over. Now, it is your turn to ask questions. Asking questions is very important to give a good impression. It shows your interest and consideration for the position. You can ask for example, about your team or tasks you would be given. You can also inquire about working hours and business trips, for example.
質問がありますか。(Do you have any questions you want to ask us?)
Step 3: Manners
Your outfit and attitude at an interview matters almost as much as answers and qualifications! Before the interview, you should make certain to check your expected “outfit”. Your appearance is very important and unless you have received specific orders, always aim for the conservative business attire. Now, let’s take a look at the Japanese etiquette specific to Japan.
- Be punctual: Better to arrive 10 to 15minutes prior your interview. If you have an emergency, immediately contact the company in order to inform them of your delay / cancellation.
- When you arrive, take off your coat at the entrance hall.
- Knock before you enter – usually 3 times, say 失礼します (excuse me) and wait for the interviewer to say どうぞ (please enter). Remember, after entering the room, close the door, face the interviewer(s) and repeat 失礼します. Bowing is also mandatory.
- Most often, you will see a chair designated for you. Before sitting, introduce yourself and greet: “Nice to meet you. Thank you very much for today. My name is … Thank you for your time“.
“はじめまして。 本日はありがとうございます。… と申します。どうぞよろしくお願いします”.
- Thereafter, bow again and wait to be invited to sit down with どうぞ座ってください.
Sit on your chair with your back straight up.
Talk in a confident and clear voice.
Answer all questions clearly and effectively.
Talk only after your interviewer has finished speaking.
Do not talk too much about unquestioned topics.
Step 4: What You Should Avoid!
During an interview, your attitude and behaviour are very important. The do’s and don’ts of a Japanese interview might not be very different than what you have experienced in your culture. Nonetheless, check our list! Be sure to avoid:
- Sitting cross-legged
- Folding your arms, hands in pockets
- Rest your chin on your hand(s)
- Talking in a quiet voice
Take the time to prepare yourself for your Japanese job interview and everything will go well. One more important point! Sleep well the night before your interview and plan your way to the interview location in order to avoid any surprises! Believe in yourself and do your best. 頑張ってください！
Step 5: Closing off the interview
After you are finished with the conversation part of the interview, always thank your interviewers for their time. They took time off their busy schedules to listen and give you a chance, so you have to show them that you are appreciative of it. It will also leave them with a positive impression after you leave the room.
You could end off with “Thank you for giving me this interview opportunity” or “Thank you for taking time off for this interview” and remember to push back your chairs!
With that, all the best to everyone preparing for their interviews and we hope this guide helps in your interview preparation!
Find out more about common questions asked in Japanese Job interviews here!
Learn more about how to use complex polite phrases in our Business Japanese Course.
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