5 Unexpected Things at Japanese Job Interviews

5 Unexpected Things at Japanese Job Interviews

You did the research, you know how to act and how to play by the rules. There is just one more thing: some quirks of Japanese interviews you should be ready for so they don’t catch you unprepared.

These 5 facts cause frequent irritation and frustration among foreign applicants. To not have this impact your chances for the job, get ready now and try not to take things personally. (If there are other things during the interview that offend you, that company might just not be the right fit.)

1.You’re facing a whole jury

At the far end of the room, away from the door, three or more people will be towering behind a long table, waiting for you to approach your small chair, which stands lonely in the center of the room.

Now, not all interviews are like this, but many are. Each of your jury members will have a specific role to play, the nice boss, the strict superior, the tech guy, etc. Get ready to answer all their questions.

If you notice the guy, sitting at a separate small table on the side of the others, you just found the lowest-ranking person in the room aside from yourself.

2. Get comfortable, this will take a while

Job interviews in Japan are long and can take up to an hour. The reason for this is that Japanese companies take the time to get to know you and make sure that you as a person, with your goals and values, really fit into the company.

On the other hand, for these jury type interviews, I’d argue that it is simply the number of people involved that is the main cause for the slow process.

3. They listen, probably

Many foreigners take offense when Japanese interviewers check resumes during the interview or talk from behind opened laptops. While this kind of behavior might be uncommon in other countries, it is normal in Japan.

Just because someone is looking at his laptop doesn’t mean he is not listening to you. Don’t let it show if it bothers you. Instead, draw in attention using the confidence in your voice, an irresistible smile, and the occasional eye contact.

4. It’s getting personal, fast

Japanese resumes don’t only ask for a picture and your gender. At the interview questions about your stay in Japan, your family, and relationship status are common and pc.

This is no different for Japanese applicants, but as non-Japanese, you get extra attention, as all these things can give hints as to whether you are likely to return to your home country anytime soon. Keep that in mind when answering these personal questions.

5. Skills take the backseat

You thought this whole interview would be about your hard skills? Think again.

With work experience and as engineer things are a little different, but as a new grad, don’t expect anyone to care much about your carefully groomed skills. Without the proper business skills, like time-management, manners, etc. they are not worth much when you don’t meet the soft skill criteria.

Instead, to win over your interviewers show yourself from your best side, friendly, enthusiastic, and with a fire to learn.

On the plus side, this means, that if you want to try something completely different, Japan might just be the place for you.

READ ONHow to ace job interviews in Japan

Did you experience any of the above yourself? What surprised you the most at interviews in Japan?

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After traveling around for a while, I found my home in Tokyo. Now working in Shinjuku and discovering something new about Japan every day.