How to prepare for the call from Human Resources
Answering the phone in Japanese makes you nervous? What if messing up during the call will cost you that job you really want?
If you have thoughts like these, then you are not alone. Almost everyone I know needed a push and some practice until they got comfortable just chatting away in Japanese on the phone.
Knowing what to expect can go a long way. That’s why below you can find a sample conversation that will give you common questions, vocabulary, and expressions, that will help you ace your next phone call with human resources.
Why do Japanese companies call?
In many other countries, companies prefer e-mail during the hiring process. So why do Japanese companies choose not to use e-mail to make appointments?
Japanese companies prefer to communicate directly. Human resources will contact candidates by phone during the entire selection process. The main purpose of these calls is to set up appointments for the next job interview or company seminar. So, rest assured, that you wont have to deal with an impromptu interview.
You won’t be asked complex questions or anything. Just remember your good manners, get familiar with the typical flow, and you will be all set for your Japanese call!
What to prepare
Before we dive in, here is some general advice to keep in mind. You never know when that important phone call might come, so be ready at all times!
- ✔ Carry your phone with you and set it to loud
- ✔ Have a memo pad within reach
- ✔ Have your schedule close by (not the one on your phone!)
- ✔ Stay calm and talk in a friendly, energetic voice
- ✔ Go to a quiet place when possible
- ✔ Answer the phone within 3 calls (making someone wait longer is impolite!)
The call from HR
So, let’s take a look, shall we?
You: Hello, (name) speaking.
HR: Sorry to call at a busy time. Here is (name) from (company name). I am calling regarding the interview. Is now a good time to talk?
You: Yes, now is fine.
Make sure to talk with a loud, clear and friendly voice. To achieve the right tone, smile while talking!
Also, talk in a higher-pitched voice than you normally would. This is a simple Japanese trick to sound politer.
Be sure to write down the name of the caller and the company.
HR: Thank you very much for applying to our company seminar (first round of interviews.) The selection results are out, and we would like to invite you to a second interview.
You: Thank you very much! I am looking forward to attending the second interview.
HR: Thank you very much.
You are invited to a company seminar or the next round of job interviews. If you receive good news, be sure to thank the caller.
If the answer is no:
If the answer is yes:
HR: Regarding the date of the interview, is (day) (time) possible for you?
You: I am very sorry, but I cannot attend at that time.
Is it possible to do the interview another day?
HR: Okay, would (day) (time) work for you?
You: Yes, that sounds fine.
HR: Please come to the reception on the third floor of our office building on (day) (time).
If the time does not work for you, tell HR honestly why you cannot participate, and ask for another date. (If your plans are watching a movie with friends or something similar, maybe consider rescheduling your free-time activity).
4. Double Check
You: Okay, on (month) (day) (time), right? Who should I ask for when I arrive?
HR: (Name) from HR.
You: Understood. On (month) (day) (time) I will come to your company and ask for (name).
Write down and repeat all the information the caller gives you. After you hung up the phone you need to know exactly:
- ✔ Who called (name, company)
- ✔ When the event is held (date and time)
- ✔ Where you need to go (address and floor)
- ✔ What to bring (CV, pen, notebook, etc.)
- ✔ How to contact them when you arrive (phone number, internal or external phone)
HR: Do you have any questions?
You: Not at the moment.
If you have any further questions, now is your time to ask. Try to think about any questions you may have in advance. It is a chance to get some more information before the interview. Not asking any questions might be interpreted as a lack of interest in the company.
HR: I will be waiting for you.
You: Thank you for your call today. Goodbye.
Make sure to thank them for the call. Before hanging up, remember to say 失礼します, the phrase with which you can end all official phone calls in Japan.
Things to remember
Stay calm during the phone call and remember the following things:
- ✔ Speak with a clear and positive voice (high pitched is more polite).
- ✔ Don’t speak too quickly.
- ✔ Thank them for being invited.
- ✔ If the date is not good for you, tell them the reason (class etc.)
- ✔ Repeat all relevant information (day, time, location of event, what to bring, caller’s name, etc.)
- ✔ Thank the caller for taking the time to reach out to you at the end of the call.
- ✔ Say 失礼いたします and hang up.
If you cannot understand what the other person is saying, just stay calm and ask them to repeat what they just said.
You: I am really sorry, but I cannot hear you very well, could you repeat what you just said/tell me your company name once again?
In case you cannot talk at that moment or it is simply too loud, ask for their phone number and say when you will call them back.
You: I am really sorry, but I cannot talk at the moment. May I call you back in 10 minutes?
HR: Okay, no problem. You can reach me under 〇〇‐〇〇〇〇‐〇〇〇〇.
You: Thank you very much. Let me repeat. 〇〇‐〇〇〇〇‐〇〇〇〇、(name), yes?
HR: That is correct.
You: Thank you very much. I will call back in 10 minutes.
HR: I will be expecting your call.
Missed a call?
If you could not answer the phone, call back as soon as possible. Waiting too long can leave a bad impression.
In case you do not recognize the number, try to look it up online. Often you are able to find out the company name that way.
If you are lucky, the person who tried to call you will pick up the phone when you call. In that case, quickly introduce yourself (in Japan usually by name and university) and they should know who you are.
For the possibility that someone else answers the phone, prepare a sentence to explain why you are calling. Also, let them know the name of your contact person at their company. Otherwise, they might not know who to connect you with.
Practice, practice, practice!
The best way to get used to answer the phone in Japanese is to practice. Use the example conversation above and try to remember the typical flow and the key expressions.
You can also practice together with a friend. Once you know what to expect during a phone call, it will get easier to understand what Japanese native speakers are saying.
Of course, every conversation is a little different. Just stay calm when you hear something you don’t understand and ask them to repeat what they said.
Have you ever been asked anything unexpected by Japanese companies on the phone?
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