Japanese interview manners: from fail to A+
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Nail your interviews and land the job of your dreams in Japan
You have a job interview, congrats! You brushed up your profile, submitted your application to the openings that fitted you the best and waited patiently for the interview invitation. However, maybe your Japanese working etiquette is not your strongest point (yet). Don't panic - the IZANAU team comes to the rescue! We have prepared our best tips for helping you to pass a job interview in Japan with the highest grades and get that dream job of yours!
Knowledge is power
You likely did some research while preparing your application but we highly suggest you learn more about the company’s objective, mission, and business culture. Japanese companies are more inclined to hire candidates with a similar working outlook, so being on the right tone may be a big plus when it comes to an interview. And even further, you may be recruited even if you don’t fit exactly the profile but fit perfectly the mindset! That will provide you with some hints of what to expect of the interview and of your -hopefully- future job.
Dress to impress
We can’t highlight enough how important is to be fluent in the business attire language. According to the research published by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes only seven seconds to build a first impression of someone - and there are no second chances here! Dress-code in Japanese companies is quite formal, so your appearance must fit the situation. If you don’t have a suit or an appropriate outfit, UNIQLO, GU, or similar retailers are your life savers (and you can stay on your budget!).
On time… or even before
Arrive the interview place 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Check in advance how to get to the office and make sure you have time enough to deal with unexpected, last-minute issues (from delayed trains to coffee stains in your shirt - Murphy’s law can be cruel sometimes). We would recommend you to keep the telephone number of the company close to you, so you can make a call in case you're late for any reason. Once you arrive, politely greet everyone you meet - from receptionists to your interviewer. If you wear a coat, take it off before accessing the building and hold it in your hand.
Never too polite
Politeness is deeply rooted in the Japanese spirit, so mastering the basics will make your life easier and will increase your chances to success in a job interview.Knock the door three times and wait until you have permission to enter. Close the door behind you, say 失礼します(shitsureishimasu, excuse me), and briefly introduce yourself. Wait for permission to sit down and then sit up straight with legs together and hands on your lap. If the interviewer gives you a 名刺 (meishi, business card), accept it with both hands along the edges.
We can’t talk about politeness and forget about bowing. In Japan, お辞儀 (ojigi, bowing) is an art in itself. How to bow - and most essential, how not to bow - requires a deep knowledge of the Japanese culture. Performing a bow correctly will show your interviewer that you have been doing your homework, even if as a foreigner you aren't expected to do it perfectly. More importantly, don’t bow too much as it may seems inappropriate.
No matter if you're doing the interview in Japanese or in another language: the first thing you will probably be asked to do is to introduce yourself. Prepare a short monologue that covers both your latest work experience and academic record. You can add some personal data, such as your hobbies or the reasons that led you to apply for this job or leave in Japan. Other common questions in Japanese job interviews you might be asked about are:
- Could you please tell us more about your background?
- When/why did you come to Japan?
- Why did you resign from your former job? / Why do you want to change jobs?
- How can your skills contribute to the company?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What do you think is your biggest strength/weakness?
- How is your Japanese level?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10?
The final touch
Before leaving, bow as you step out and tuck your chair in - that shows you have an eye for details and a careful nature. Don’t forget to smile and say goodbye to the interviewer and the people you may encounter on your way back. On the same day, send a thank you email to all of your interviewers and now it's time to cross your fingers and wait for the ultimate resolution. If your application becomes dismissed, take it as a chance to improve professionally - never forget that your dream job is out of there waiting for you!
Have you started practicing your bows? Register on IZANAU and create your profile right now.
About the Author
Half writer, half reader. Tokyo based and deeply in love with - you can easily find me meandering around Shibuya or Shin-Okubo. Communication and marketing assistant by day, video game translator by night.