Japanese job interview etiquette

Japanese job interview etiquette

4月 6, 2022 0コメント

Ready to start your career in Japan? Applied for the ideal job? Got the interview? The last hurdle to cross at this point is, of course, the job interview itself. Job interviews can be stressful and tricky anywhere, but even more so in another country and culture. 

So, to be sure that you’ll get your dream job in Japan, it’s important to know job interview etiquette specific to Japan, and what pitfalls to avoid. 

Dress Code

When interviewing for jobs in Japan, there is an essentially uniform way to dress. It is so common that it is colloquially known as a “recruit suit” (リクルートスーツ Rikurūtosūtsu). It can be purchased at shops such as Suit Select, Aoyama, or Aoki, which have branches around the country. These shops usually have special “recruit suit” sections and staff can help you get interview ready. These suits are specifically for those in the process of job hunting and differ somewhat from the normal office attire of those already in employment. 

In the boom years of the 1980s, there was arguably more flexibility when it came to job interviews, and there was more emphasis on fashion and individuality. However, since about the early 1990s, finding a job has become more difficult than it used to be. Companies are more selective about their hires, and demand loyalty and commitment.

The “recruit suit” is thus to present yourself as an employee who is willing to adapt to the company. Companies want someone who can be molded to fit their needs and corporate culture. The “recruit suit” is a symbol of this corporate mentality. 

The recruit suit is generally in plain black. Other dark colors such as navy and dark grey may also be acceptable, but black is usually the best bet. A white, button-up shirt should be worn underneath. It is not advisable to wear strong cologne or perfume. As far as accessories go, nothing branded or flashy is recommended. In fact, it is best to avoid wearing any jewelry at all. A backpack would be seen as unprofessional – use a plain black bag instead. This bag should be able to hold A4-sized documents and stationery necessary for the interview. As it is considered rude to check your phone during an interview, it is advisable to wear a watch instead to tell the time. 

For women, a black skirt is most appropriate. Sheer tights should be worn underneath, and the look is usually completed with plain black heels, usually between 3 to 5 centimeters in height. Make-up can be worn but should be simple and consist of more natural-looking colors. Hair should be tied up in a neat, low ponytail.

Men should wear plain black trousers with accompanying black dress shoes. A clean-shaven face with a short, neat haircut is usually preferred. Likewise, any belt worn should be plain. There is more freedom of choice when it comes to ties, but a muted color that doesn’t grab too much attention is still recommended.

Entering the interview

As with all job interviews, it is important to be punctual. Train delays and transportation issues may hinder this, however. If this is the case, you should immediately call the company you are interviewing for to let them know. It is also advisable to ask the staff at the train station to give you a train delay certificate, known as a 電車遅延証明書 Densha Chien Shoumeisho in Japanese. This can be used to excuse and explain any delays. 

Ideally, you should arrive at the office between 5 and 10 minutes in advance. Make sure that your phone is on silent at this point. This is because the interview is considered to begin the moment one walks into the reception area, and does not end until after you leave the building. After being welcomed, simply sit quietly. This time can be used for last-minute mental preparation

When you are finally called, knock on the door three times (knocking twice is usually reserved for bathroom doors) and say “excuse me!” (失礼します / しつれいします Shitsurei shimasu!)

Wait outside the door until you hear the interviewer say please (どうぞ Douzo), then enter the room, close the door, face the interviewer and say shitsurei shimasu again. Bow for a few seconds facing the interviewer. Next, approach the chair that seems as if it has been designated for you. Rather than sitting down, first, formally introduce yourself with a simple “My name is_____, it is a pleasure to meet you” (と申します。どうぞ宜しくお願いします/ともうします。どうぞよろしくおねがいします ______to moushimasu. Douzo yoroshiku Onegai shimasu). Bow once more. It is best to have your arms at your sides to make bowing easier. The interviewer should then invite you to sit down by saying “Please sit down” (どうぞ、座って下さい/ どうぞ、すわってください Douzo suwatte kudasai).

Once you sit down, it is important to pay attention to how you sit as well. Your legs should be together and touching at the knees. Your hands should be palms down, resting on your lap. Pay attention to your posture as well – sitting upright with your spine extended is seen as professional. Although you might have the urge to relax after some time, it is advisable to keep your body language the same throughout the interview.

Questions and Answers

As you have realized by now, there are a lot of rituals and rules to follow in a Japanese job interview scenario. As you can imagine, there is also a common list of questions asked of job seekers. These are not dissimilar from those asked in other countries, though, so no need to worry.

You will usually be asked to do a brief self-introduction to start with. You can use this to tell the interviewer about some of your academic and professional achievements, and also more about yourself, for example, your hobbies and interests. Do however remember to keep it polite and professional! As a foreigner, you may also be asked about why you came to Japan, how long you’ve been in the country, if you would be confident working in a Japanese company, and so on. 

Next, you will likely be asked about what you know about the company and what they produce. Continuing on that, you may be asked what you know about the specifics of the position. This is an opportunity to highlight previous experience that makes you a good candidate for this position. You might also be asked why you applied for this job. To see whether you would be a good fit for the company culture, you may also be asked questions about your relevant background, work ethic, motivation, and problem-solving skills.

Wrapping Up

The interviewer will typically announce the interview is over by saying “the interview is now over” (それでは、面接はこれで終了ですsore dewa, mensetsu wa kore de shuuryou desu). You can reply with “Thank you very much for your valuable time today“ (本日は貴重なお時間をいただき、どうもありがとうございました。honjitsu wa kichouna ojikan o itadaki, doumo arigatou gozaimashita). Finally, after getting up from your chair, you can thank the interviewer. Make sure to use the formal expression of thanks – どうもありがとうございました doumo arigatou gozaimashita.

Finally, give a respectful bow, approach the door, turn around and say excuse me(失礼しますshitsureishimasu) while bowing once more. After passing the threshold, it’s a good idea to bow one more time just before closing the door. Be sure to stay in interview mode until you are outside the building!

Now that you know how to confidently take on a job interview in Japan, and how to avoid any cultural faux pas, why not go over to the Inbound Technology job board and have a look at the available jobs?

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      ご入力頂きました個人情報はお問い合わせ対応のために利用させて頂きます。
      個人情報の取り扱い詳細は 「個人情報取り扱いについて」をご覧ください。

      個人情報取り扱いに同意する