Finally, after all the job-hunting preparation, let’s talk about interviews.
In this post, we will focus on job-hunting interviews in Japan. We will include general interview questions, appropriate answers, and questions to ask your interviewers.
In Japan, the unspoken rule for interviews is to wear dark-colored suits and have a clean hairstyle.
・To present a clean and professional appearance is essential
・Long hair should be put up
・Bangs should not cover your eyes and, ideally, are styled to one side, showing your forehead.
・Typical dress is a black/dark grey/navy suit
・Wear a white/light-colored shirt, and button it all the way up
・Neckties should be a solid color or simple pattern (calm colors are recommended instead of patterned/bright colors). Make sure to tie it properly.
・Girls should wear skin-colored stockings. Avoid patterned stockings and tights
・If wearing a skirt, it should cover your knees
These are the formalities for most companies. Recently, more venture companies which adopt a flexible style, which they usually share with candidates beforehand. Make sure you understand the company’s expectations before your interview.
◆Common Interview Questions
(1) 「Please introduce yourself.」
In most cases, this (or something very similar) is the first interview question.
・Origin (*not absolutely must but can also add if necessary)
・School (university, major, etc.)
・End with greeting
Here is an example:
Target to answer this question with the above points in roughly one minute. Practice beforehand to answer clearly and fluently, but be sure to sound natural.
For a one-sentence/very short self-introductions, you can insert certain information that may interest the interviewer.
i.e., I researched 〇〇 in university. For extra-curricular activities, I participated in 〇〇. Etc.
(2) 「Why did you come to Japan?」
This is a standard question frequently asked students of foreign roots.
In asking this question, interviewers can assess critical aspects of the candidate, including their understanding of Japanese language/culture and their long-term motivation to work in Japan. Therefore, you must answer this question with details.
(3) 「Please tell us one of your strengths/weaknesses.」
Answer this question with confidence.
i.e., My strength is 〇〇 + reason
Interviewers will judge by the answer by determining whether you will fit the company well
Prepare beforehand and make sure your strength is a utilizable skill for the company you are interviewing with
It is very common that interviewer ask about both strengths and weaknesses. The purpose of asking weakness is to see if the candidate understand where they need to improve and that they have worked to overcome them.
(4) 「Why did you apply to us?」「Why do you want to work with us?」
Interviewers will expect your answers based on what you wrote on your entry sheet. Add extra points in your response to leave a strong impression.
Please also check the previous post on the Entry Sheet.
(5) 「Is there anything you challenged yourself with as a student?」
（※ Many Japanese students call this questions「Gakuchika」, which is short for 「gakusei jitai chikara wo ireta koto (学生時代力を入れたこと)」）
Answer with a detailed episode that is also easy to understand. Avoid giving multiple stories to avoid confusing the interviewer.
This is a question to see how students overcome complex challenges.
It is always good to answer with specific results/numbers if available. Interviewers also would like to see if students gained experience through such events, highlighting your main takeaway at the end.
Above are some most common questions for interviews. You should also prepare for questions around these points:
・Strength/weakness of the company you are interviewing with
・Recent industry news
・What you would like to accomplish with this company
You can also refer to our previous post on Company Analysis.
◆Questions to Interviewers
It is common for interviewers to ask whether you have any questions for them at the end of the interview. Therefore, make sure to prepare questions.
Show your motivation by asking:
「Is there anything I can prepare for the job before joining」
「What is the flow of work after joining」
（to interviewer）「What is the most meaningful thing you have done in this job/at this company」
「What are some common points for successful people in your company」
「I have a certificate for 〇〇.
Would this be something I can utilize at work?」
【Questions to Avoid】
Avoid asking questions for which you can know the answers by doing
research For example, for welfare and benefits, you should find the answer
on the company homepage.
Also, avoid asking about overtime/holiday at the beginning stage.
These questions generally leave a negative impression and may imply you are not a motivated person.
Through the candidate’s questions, the interviewer will determine whether
the candidate is committed to the company. Use this chance wisely and show your motivation to work.
◆Prepare for the Interview
・Have a copy of your submitted entry sheet
Review the key points you wrote, especially your reason for applying. The entry sheet is the basis of the interview.
・Do self and company analysis
・Practice commonly asked questions
We recommend practicing with friends or advisors at your university’s career center. Use their feedback to fix any gaps or flaws in your preparation.
There are certain defaults/rules for Japanese interviews, but they are easy to prepare for beforehand.
When answering a question, there is a possibility that interviewers ask for additional details. Therefore, make sure you always answer honestly. It is easy to catch a lie.
If the interviewer asks a question you did not prepare for, you can ask them to give you some time to consider (no more than ten seconds); if you don’t know the answer, tell them honestly and say you will study more on the subject so you can answer next time. In any case, avoid giving no answers at all.
See you next time!
Author: Haruka Satomi (Living in Peace)
Translation: Jiujiu Dai (Living in Peace)