Here are some universal tips on how to best present yourself and what to expect in a job interview.
Whether it's a position we've hand-picked for you, or something you've found through other means, you might be wondering how an interview with a Japanese company may be different than what you're used to, whether it's for an internship, internship-to-hire, or even a full-time position. Here are some universal tips on how to best present yourself, what to expect, and how to hopefully land yourself a spot that will help you achieve your career goals.
One of the biggest concerns our candidates have is regarding the language in which they'll be interviewed. If it's for a position with one of our affiliate companies, rest assured that we've already communicated your Japanese comprehension level, if any, to the company. Your interviewer will be going into the interview with the right expectations. If you're at a fluent level, your interview may be entirely in Japanese, and if you know nothing, the interview should be entirely in English. For interviews including Japanese, the key is that in most cases, companies are looking for the ability to communicate, not for perfect grammar, let alone the ability to hand-write kanji. Of course, if the position is for something like translation or interpretation, your interviewer may be a little bit more nit-picky. However, if you know humble and polite forms （丁寧語 or 敬語） we definitely recommend using them to the best of your ability.
What you wear to work on a daily basis will vary depending on the particular host company, but as a blanket rule, we generally recommend that you wear business formal attire for your interview. This applies to both Skype interviews and in-person interviews. At some companies (though not particularly common), you may even get away with jeans and a t-shirt from day-to-day, but wearing a suit jacket over a blouse or a collared shirt with necktie (or other attire along those lines) will make a strong impression that you are motivated and professional, and that you are the candidate the host company is looking for.
Bonus Tip: If your interview is over Skype, we highly recommend updating your profile picture with something professional, maybe even including formal business attire.
One question that most of the host companies will inevitably end up asking during your interview is "Why would you like to work for our company?" An answer you shouldn't give to this specific question is any variation of "to work/live/breathe/eat/sleep in Japan." While of course the host company wants to see that you are determined and committed to living in Japan long-term, they also want to know why you are interested in them as a company. Do some research, or ask one of our consultants for some info about the company, and find something that stands out to you as an appealing reason for wanting to work at the company specifically.
And of course, as is applicable with job interviews in other parts of the world, we strongly recommend to prepare some questions of your own about the company and position to show your strong interest and motivation for the position.
If you have any questions regarding airfare/housing support, visa applications, moving to Japan in general, etc., please direct them toward us unless otherwise instructed, as the company will generally not be handling those matters.
For internship-to-hire positions, host companies are hoping to eventually hire interns as full-time employees, assuming an internship proceeds smoothly. Because companies prioritize candidates interested in full-time employment after their internship or graduation (as opposed to those enrolling in graduate school, or otherwise), we strongly recommend that you indicate your interest in possible full-time employment. There is never any obligation to engage in full-time employment until you've formally accepted a full-time job offer, and otherwise indicating that you may have alternative plans may actually prevent you from being selected for an internship.
If you ever have any other questions or concerns about an upcoming interview with one of our affiliate host companies, or would like any kind of assistance with preparing for your interview, please feel free to email us and we'll be glad to help! We're even happy to set up a mock interview or speak with you over a video call should that be more convenient.
If you're familiar with job interviewing in general, you'll probably notice that honestly, most of these points apply outside of Japan just as well. Whether with one of our affiliates, or any other company at all, just do your best to be your best, professional self, and the company will surely see you for the quality candidate you are!
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While the use of hanko has recently declined in the digital age, there are occasionally instances where they may still be necessary for banking, renting an apartment, or even for work.