Best practices for making a strong impression during a job interview

Job interviews in Japan can be highly competitive, with candidates vying for limited opportunities. In fact, a study conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in 2023 found that the job-to-applicant ratio was 1.29, meaning there were only 129 job offers for every 100 job seekers. To make a strong impression and stand out during a Japanese job interview, it’s essential to follow best practices that showcase your skills, experience, and cultural understanding. In this article, we will explore key strategies that will help you make a lasting impression during your next job interview in Japan.

1. Demonstrate cultural awareness

Showing respect for Japanese customs and culture is crucial for making a positive impression during your interview. Being culturally aware helps you navigate the interview process more smoothly and demonstrates your adaptability to a Japanese work environment. Some key points to consider include:

Greeting etiquette:

● Bow slightly when meeting the interviewer.

● When bowing, keep your back straight, your hands at your sides, and your gaze downward.

● Maintain a respectful posture and tone throughout the conversation.

Addressing interviewers:

● Use appropriate honorifics (e.g., “-san” or “-sama”) when addressing the interviewer.

● Avoid using first names unless specifically instructed to do so.

You can find out more about Japanese interview etiquette here (link to article). By demonstrating your understanding and adherence to Japanese customs and culture, you will create a favorable impression on the interviewer and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

2. Showcase your language skills

Possessing Japanese language skills can be a significant advantage in the job interview process, so make sure to highlight them during the interview if you can. Even if the position doesn’t require fluency, demonstrating your ability to communicate in Japanese can be a significant advantage.

Speak clearly and confidently in Japanese, if possible.

● If you’re not fluent, try to use simple and clear language to get your point across.

Use polite and formal language, such as “keigo” (敬語).

Prepare common phrases and vocabulary related to the job and industry:

● Research industry-specific terminology and relevant keywords that may come up during the interview.

● Practice using these terms in sentences to demonstrate your understanding of the job and your ability to communicate effectively in the workplace.

If you’re not fluent in Japanese, consider learning some basic phrases to show your interest in the language and culture.

Show enthusiasm for continued language learning:

● Share your language learning journey, highlighting any language courses, study groups, or immersion experiences you’ve participated in.

● Discuss your future plans for improving your Japanese language skills, such as attending language classes or practicing with native speakers.

By showcasing your Japanese language skills and your commitment to continued language learning, you demonstrate your ability to adapt to a Japanese work environment and communicate effectively with colleagues and clients. This, in turn, makes you a more appealing candidate for the position.

3. Conduct thorough company research

Displaying a deep understanding of the company and its industry will signal your genuine interest in the position and help you stand out from other candidates.

● Study the company’s history, mission, and values.

● Familiarize yourself with the company’s products or services, as well as its market position.

● Analyze the company’s market position and industry trends

● Learn about the company’s organizational structure and key personnel

● Understand the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives

● Stay up-to-date with recent news and developments in the industry.

By conducting comprehensive research on the company and its industry, you will be better equipped to engage in informed discussions during the interview, ask insightful questions, and demonstrate your genuine interest in the position. This thorough preparation can significantly increase your chances of making a strong impression on the interviewer and securing the job.

4. Emphasize your adaptability and willingness to learn

In a fast-paced and ever-evolving business environment, adaptability is highly valued. Showcasing your flexibility and eagerness to learn can make you a more attractive candidate.

● Share examples of how you’ve adapted to new situations or learned new skills in the past.

● Showcase your problem-solving abilities by share specific examples of how you have faced challenges in your previous roles.

● Express your openness to receiving feedback and learning from mistakes.

● Demonstrate your adaptability to changes in technology and industry trends.

● Discuss your plans for personal and professional growth within the company.

By emphasizing your adaptability and eagerness to learn, you demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a proactive and committed candidate who can thrive in a Japanese work environment.

5. Follow up with a thank-you e-mail

Sending a thank-you e-mail after the interview is a courteous gesture that can help you stand out from other candidates and reinforce your interest in the position.

● Send a thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview.

● Express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview and mention any specific topics you found interesting during the conversation.

● Reiterate your interest in the position and briefly highlight how your skills and experience make you a strong candidate.

6. Arrive early

Punctuality is highly valued in Japanese culture. Arriving early to your interview demonstrates respect for the interviewer’s time and your commitment to the position.

● Plan your route to the interview location in advance.

● Aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time.

● If you’re running late, contact the company as soon as possible to inform them of your estimated arrival time.

Adhering to these best practices will significantly enhance your ability to make a strong and lasting impression during your job interview in Japan. By dedicating time to preparation, gaining a deep understanding of the company and its culture, showcasing your language skills, and emphasizing your adaptability and willingness to learn, you can effectively set yourself apart from other candidates. Remember that success in the Japanese job market is not only about your qualifications and experience but also about your ability to navigate cultural norms, demonstrate genuine interest in the company, and your potential to grow and adapt within the organization. As you embark on your job search journey, keep these practices in mind to increase your chances of securing the ideal position and achieving long-term career success in Japan.

If you want to know what questions to expect during the interview make sure to check out our guide to most common interview questions.