The 44 Most Common Japanese Interview Questions & Answers
The worst thing to happen during an interview is getting a question and being unable to answer. Whether you don’t understand the question or are simply caught on your wrong foot, this can mean the end of your interview.
Don’t let this happen to you. Prepare answers to common questions and learn to understand typical question patterns and vocabulary. This list will help. Use the links below or the table of contents to jump to questions about…
The classics (hard to avoid)
1. Introduce yourself
Prepare a short monologue (under 60 seconds), including your educational background, most recent activity, and a bit of personal information like extracurriculars.
2. Explain your strength/weakness.
This question comes in different shapes. All either focusing on one specific example in detail or are asking about multiple characteristics. Best prepare around 3 each. Pick strengths that are relevant for the job you are applying for. For your weaknesses choose unrelated things and show how you are overcoming on it.
3. Why did you apply?
→ 応募動機を教えてください。/ 志望動機は何ですか。
Listen for the two keywords and don’t get thrown off by an unfamiliar phrasing.「理由」is asking for the reason of application while 「きっかけ」is asking for the occasion. When answering also include how your skills or experiences qualify you for the job.
4. How do your experiences match the position?
Explain, using specific examples, how you can utilize your previous experiences at your new job.
5. How do your skills match the position?
Almost the same as above. Just make sure you keep experiences and skills apart and talk about the right material.
6. How good is your Japanese?
→ あなたの日本語のレベルを教えてください。/ 日本語はどのぐらいはなせますか。
They already can guess your level from the interview, so give facts. Mention your JLPT level, relevant experiences, for how long, and with what intensity you studied.
7. Any last questions? Anything you want to say?
→ 最後に質問ありますか？/ 最後に一言ありますか？
Both questions are checking your eagerness to join the company. If you really want in, you almost certainly have questions or things you want to share. Not saying anything is going to show a lack of interest.
So even if you don’t have any truly urgent things that need clearing up, use this opportunity to show that you’re thinking ahead and want to know more. Don’t have any ideas what you should ask (or how to ask your question in Japanese)? Check out our article on the topic!
Questions about the company
8. What do you know about our company?
Show that you get what the company is all about by giving a brief summary of the company history, products, customers, competitors, etc.
9. Why do you want to work for our company?
Include your research findings to point out how you fit the company, and how you can benefit the company.
10. What do you know about the position?
Again, this isn’t only about the job. Based on the requirements, explain using specific examples, how your experiences match the work.
11. If you get the job what do you want to do/ achieve?
Really think about this one to give a specific answer that ties into the company goals. If you don’t have a clear image of what you want to do and achieve at the company, then how are you going to convey to your interviewers that they should hire you?
12. Is our company your first choice?
When you hear this question, the interview is as good as over. The point of the question is to check whether you will actually take the job when offered to you.
If you’re not good at keeping a poker face, it may be difficult to conceal your hesitation if you have no clear favorite among your options or the company isn’t actually your overall top choice. The trick is to think of a specific area where that company is your favorite. Each company offers different opportunities, so they can each be your first choice in their own niches.
Questions about your skills
13. What kind of work did you do so far?
Straightforward, asking for your concrete work experiences. When explaining what you did and in which kind of environment, make sure to create a connection to the job you are interviewing for.
14. Tell us about your current job?
While the previous question asked for any working experience, here they only want to hear about your most recent experience. Both questions are a great opportunity to highlight your skills, so stay on topic, and illustrate how you can add value to the company.
15. What have you achieved at your job?
Here you need to bring data and facts. Explain your achievement by outlining the specific goal, process, and results. You probably didn’t do it all by yourself, so give some credit to others. It will highlight your teamwork skills.
16. Tell us about your … activities.
This is a common pattern to ask about your experiences or skills regarding a specific field or area of expertise.
17. Why do you want to leave your current job?
That’s a tricky one. No matter why you want to quit, never criticize a previous employer or other company. Phrase it positively, by talking about things you want to achieve.
18. How can you benefit the company?
Explain with a specific example how you will use your strong point to further the company’s goals. Base this on your company research and what you want to achieve in the position.
Questions about yourself
19. What are your career goals?
→ 今後のキャリアをどう考えていますか。/ 将来どんな仕事をしたいですか。
It is okay to dream big, just make sure the career goals you mention align with the position and match the company.
20. What is your dream for the future?
Having a dream you want to achieve, shows you as self-driven and motivated. Interviewers want to find out if your values and life goals match the company, so consider this in your reply.
21. Where do you see yourself in X years?
Questions for 3, 5, or even 10-year plans are common. So prepare accordingly. With Japanese companies, they hope that once hired, you will stay with them for the long-run.
22. Describe your personality.
The point here is a spontaneous and straightforward answer. Otherwise, you could convey the feeling you are hiding something. Prepare this one so you can point out those traits that benefit the position.
23. What do people around you think about you as a person?
This can be a bit tricky to answer. Try asking friends and family for their honest input when preparing for your interviews. It will help you build a stronger case for other questions too.
24. What is your niche?
This one is asking about how you want to work (task, environment, etc.) and which values are important to you. Maybe you want to create something or work with people, or maybe the atmosphere, income, or room for self-development is most important to you. Phrase this one positively. Extra points for bringing in company’s values.
Questions about problem-solving
I would love to tell you that’s it, but there are a few more bases to cover.
25. What do you do when you are about to miss a deadline.
These questions can catch you on the wrong foot, so prepare a few examples ahead of time so you can give a good answer. Sometimes specific scenarios are given as reference.
26. How would you solve a problem at work?
It’s easy to just keep talking with this question. Remember to keep it short and specific. As with every other answer, be prepared to go into more detail if asked to.
27. How do you convince your boss of a new idea?
A question about your communication skills. These and similar questions are asking for how you act in certain situations. Be as specific as possible and explain how you use your common sense, strengths, and skills to go about it.
28. What type of person don’t you get along with well? And how do you deal with them?
Don’t get tricked into giving a specific answer. Keep it more general. After all, it all comes down to the individual, doesn’t it? So instead, focus on stating that you get along with people well and how you would use your communication skills to handle a difficult situation.
29. How do you deal with a difficult person?
Similar to the above question, but more focused on your communication strategies. Imagine you have a challenging customer, how would you approach him to create a mutually beneficial situation.
30. How do you solve a disagreement with a coworker?
A plot twist: this time not the person, but the content is the problem. Get out your inner mediator and explain how you respectfully find a solution without straining the relationship.
Questions about (living in) Japan
31. When did you come to Japan?
Notice how the question is asking only about the time and not about the why.
32. Why do you want to work in Japan?
Another question to check your motivation and seriousness. If it’s just for the visa or your answer shows a mismatch with company values, those will be red flags to the interviewer.
33. Do you think you are able to work in a Japanese environment?
This one is checking for you compatibility and adaptability to the Japanese working environment. Show an understanding of culture, manners, and mention previous experiences if possible.
Japanese companies hire full-time employees to stay long-term and invest a lot of energy into training new employees, especially new grads. So if you say that you only plan to stay for a few years, you might not be around enough to make the company want to invest in you.
Questions about your student life
35. Briefly summarize what you have done until now.
Prepare a short monologue about your educational and work background, and the reason for coming to Japan. Most people will like it if you like their country, so it’s okay to show your enthusiasm a little bit.
36. What did you work hard on during university.
Whether sports, classes or another project, show that you are hardworking and committed to reaching your goals.
37. What (life lessons) did you learn as a student?
This one is not asking about your class contents, but about other things you picked up. Maybe you learned life-long learning or found out how to realize your goals. The company wants to know whether you can learn from your experiences and keep developing.
38. What is the difference between a student and a regular employee?
Typically Japanese, you might think. If you don’t know how to answer it, think about it this way. As a student you have been the consumer, paying money to receive a service. Now with the tables turned, you will need a different outlook on self-driven motivation and commitment.
Questions about your private life
39. What is your hobby/specialty?
Show a bit of your personality but consider your environment. Applying to a sales job, saying you are a hardcore shut-in otaku might not be your best pick, neither is it advisable to show a high risk-tolerance with hobbies like say, bungee-jumping.
40. How do you spend your free time?
What matters to you. Are you investing time into your own development?
41. Was there something memorable in a book you read recently?
Your answer to this question will give them insights into your personality and interests.
Keeping up with trends, new skills, and the world around you, shows that you are learning. Try getting into the habit of skimming through global, Japanese, and industry news.
43. What person do you respect?
People we respect are often our role-models, so think about the characteristics commonly associated with your favorite people.
44. If you were an X, what would you be?
This question might seem pointless, but it is testing your ability for spontaneous, original thought. When answering, say for example, what animal you are, weave your strengths into your explanation.
You can never know exactly which questions you get. Still, this extensive list allows you to prepare effectively and get ready for most potential questions.
During the interview, show connections to company goals and values when possible, and remember to keep your answers to the point, saving the details for follow-up questions.
Need help preparing for your job hunt?
While it’s possible to find a job in Japan on your own, successfully going through your first job hunt all on your own can be difficult. Without any native speaker to check back with, you have no choice but to keep applying and figure things out by yourself through trial and error. If you want to prepare as much as possible, consider asking professionals for help.
Linguage Japanese Language school in Shinjuku specializes in training students for searching for a job in Japan. Aside from the classes, which are designed to equip you with Japanese abilities that you can easily apply in real-world business settings, teachers and counselors will guide you through your job hunt and correct your Japanese CVs and other documents. If you’re interested, check out our in-depth article about the school or click the button below to directly visit the homepage.