Interviews are the most important part of job hunting in Japan. In this article, we will introduce the interview rules unique to Japanese companies, points to keep in mind in order to pass the interview, and measures you should take beforehand.

What do you need to bring to a Japanese job interview?

An interview is a valuable opportunity to present yourself directly to the company of your choice. Therefore, in addition to simulating interview responses and unfamiliar habits, it is very important not to forget anything. Forgetting something important can cause you to panic, and it can also make a bad impression on the interviewer. To avoid such a situation, here is an explanation of what you should bring with you when you go for an interview at a Japanese company.

Residence card

Necessary to confirm the address as well as the period of stay, status of residence, expiration date of the residence card, and whether or not the applicant has permission to engage in activities other than those permitted under the status of residence.

Certificate of eligibility for employment

Necessary to confirm whether or not the applicant is qualified to work and what specific activities he/she is allowed to engage in.

Documents certifying Japanese language proficiency, such as the results of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

The results of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) are an important determinant when companies check applicants’ Japanese communication skills. In addition to conversational ability, which can be judged at the interview, be sure to bring proof of Japanese language proficiency as a measure of reading, writing, and other Japanese language skills.

In addition to these documents, it is also a good idea to bring documents designated by the company as proof of identity, such as a passport, and a copy of your resume or work history (or the original if you have not submitted one).

You may also be asked to fill out a questionnaire at the interview site or be asked about your next selection schedule, so be sure to bring a writing utensil and a notebook.
It would be a waste if you miss an interview because you accidentally forgot something.

Frequently asked interview questions in a Japanese job interview

The points of importance in an interview vary from company to company, as do the interview method, number of interviews, and questions asked during the interview. Some companies and industries may conduct group interviews, but regardless of the type of interview, here are some basic questions that are commonly asked at Japanese companies and points to consider when answering them.

(1) Please introduce yourself.

It is best to look the interviewer in the face, speak in a clear voice, and use correct Japanese as much as possible to make a good impression.

2) Please tell us why you chose our company.

If you are asked this type of question, try to clearly explain why you are interested in the company you are applying for and how your experience and skills are a good fit for the position you are applying for. Answers that show that you have done sufficient research on the company beforehand will lead to increased points.

3) What duties did you perform at your previous job?

It is best to briefly explain what role you played in your previous job, what results you achieved, and your career to date with specific achievements and accomplishments.

4) What has been your greatest success to date?

Briefly describe not only the successes, but also what efforts and innovations you made to achieve your goals. It is important to convey that the applicant is willing to work hard to achieve the goal and has the attitude and energy to tackle various challenges.

5) Please tell us about an episode of failure at work.

In such questions, you should not only describe the episode of failure, but also tell what you did to cope with it and what you learned from it. Furthermore, if you can explain the reasons for the failure and how you would like to apply what you learned from the failure to your future work, you will be able to show that you have problem-solving skills, the ability to determine the cause of problems, and the desire to improve.

6) Please tell us why you came to Japan / How long do you plan to stay in Japan?

Explain clearly why you are interested in Japan and want to live and work in Japan. Clearly stating that you want to build a long-term career in Japan will give you an advantage in the hiring process, as companies will judge that you will work in Japan for a long time.

7) Do you have any final questions?

This is a question often asked during interviews at Japanese companies. It is a so-called “reverse question” in which the applicant spontaneously asks a question. The interviewer will use this question to evaluate the applicant’s motivation and communication skills, so be sure to prepare questions about the company and the job description in advance.

Be careful not to ask questions that can be easily answered by looking at the company’s website or job description, as it may be judged that you have not done enough research on the company and your evaluation may be lowered.

Also, avoid asking questions that were explained during the interview again, as you will be judged as not listening or not concentrating.

It will lead to a higher evaluation if you can show your motivation and high motivation for the job in connection with your questions about the company.

When interviewing non-Japanese, it is inevitable to judge their Japanese language ability and communication skills necessary to work for a Japanese company. However, by preparing a certain number of possible answers in advance, you will be able to calmly present yourself and your skills.

Speaking points to keep in mind when answering questions in Japanese

Here are some points to keep in mind when answering the questions so that you can leave a good impression during the interview.

Speak as accurately as possible in Japanese and use honorifics!

When applying for a job at a Japanese company, the ability to communicate in Japanese is as important as skills and expertise. You do not need to be perfect in Japanese, but your ability to speak more correct Japanese will be judged by how you are received during the interview, so be sure to use polite and honorific language when speaking.
In addition, avoid ending words or interjecting words such as “Um, um” when speaking, as this is very difficult for the listener to hear and will give the interviewer a bad impression of you.
Practice using honorifics and polite speech on a regular basis to get used to honorifics!

Smile, speak clearly, and speak slowly!

If your facial expression becomes stiff due to nervousness, if you cannot look the other person in the face when speaking, or if your voice is too quiet, you will be judged as having poor communication skills.

During the interview, try to look the interviewer in the eye, smile clearly, and speak slowly so that you can be easily heard.

Keep your answers precise, concise, and easy to understand.

If you talk too long when answering, not only will you not be coherent and it will be difficult for others to understand what you are trying to say, but they may also judge you as not being able to think logically and lacking in comprehension. Always try to give a concise and clear answer to any question.

When “tsunagu local” native staff were asked about the difficulties they encountered when interviewing with Japanese companies, the most common responses were related to honorifics and polite language. Even if you do not have problems in daily conversation, reading and writing, it is very difficult to use honorific and polite words in a tense situation. Many people may have difficulty using them, but to solve this problem, it is important to become accustomed to using honorific and polite language on a daily basis.
It is a good idea to prepare in advance so that you can respond using honorific and polite language, referring to the assumed interview questions introduced in the previous chapter.

What are the unique interview rules in Japan?

Japanese companies have their own interview etiquette and rules. Here are some general interview etiquette and rules for Japanese companies.

Unless otherwise specified, black suits should be worn for interviews.

In other countries, it is common to dress casually for interviews, but in Japan, unless otherwise specified, a black or navy blue suit should be worn. This is because suits are considered to give the impression of cleanliness and sincerity, which improves the impression at the interview. Even if you are allowed to wear something other than a suit, you should try to wear clean clothes and hairstyle.

It is also good manners to wear at least a minimum amount of makeup, but too much makeup or too strong a perfume scent will give a negative impression.

Do not be late for the interview, be early!

Punctuality is considered common sense for working adults in Japan, so try to arrive at the reception desk 10 minutes before the interview time.
It is also important to research the nearest station and the route to the office in advance to avoid such problems as “I couldn’t find the exit of the station…” or “It took longer than I thought it would.” In particular, be aware that Tokyo’s office districts are cluttered with buildings, and it is easy to get lost if you are new to the area.
If you are concerned, it is a good idea to visit the office before the interview.
If you have to be late due to traffic, be sure to call and let them know why and how long you will be late.

Knock on the door three times when entering.

When you hear a response from inside, say “excuse me” and enter the room. When entering a room, do not be in a hurry and move slowly. When closing the door, be sure to face the door and close it quietly.

Do not forget to greet the guests when they enter the room.

When you enter the room, stand next to the chair and say in a clear tone of voice, “Thank you for taking the time to see me today. My name is xx. Honjitsu wa ojikan wo itadaki arigatougozaimasu. xx to moushimasu. Yoroshikuonegaiitashimasu.” If the interviewer enters the room later, you may sit and wait, but once the interviewer enters, stand up and greet him or her in the same manner.

Do not sit down until the interviewer calls you.

When the interviewer says, “Come in,” sit down. When sitting in a chair, sit deeply and straighten your back. Place your hands on your knees and your feet parallel to each other. For men, there should be a space of one fist between the legs. Please note that it is bad manners to cross your arms or legs.

Don’t forget to greet the person leaving the room.

When the interview is over, thank the interviewer for his/her time today (Honjitsu wa ojikan wo itadaki arigatou gozaimashita) and bow. After that, put writing materials and documents in a bag, stand up, and say “Shitsurei itashimasu” (Excuse me) and bow before leaving the office.

The interview is the most important step in the job-hunting process in Japan, but it is difficult to show one’s ability due to the unique interview process of Japanese companies and nervousness caused by the unfamiliarity of a foreign language. However, if you prepare well in advance, you will be able to go into the interview with peace of mind and show off your strengths to the fullest. The most important thing in an interview is to show your personality, so I hope you will use this article as a guide and actively challenge yourself in your job search in Japan.

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