Japan boasts an impressively low unemployment rate among the G7 nations, with a mere 2.6% in 2022. This reflects a highly competitive job market, where candidates must make every effort to stand out. One key aspect of succeeding in the Japanese job market is mastering the etiquette of job interviews. In this article, we will explore the essential dos and don’ts of Japanese job interviews, helping you gain an advantage in securing your dream job.
Do your homework:
◯ Research the company: Understand their products, services, history, and corporate culture.
◯ Familiarize yourself with the job description: Be prepared to discuss how your skills and experience align with the position.
◯ Study the Japanese Keigo: Keigo is a set of honorific expressions and language used to show respect in formal situations. (You can check out more information about Keigo in our articles “article1”, “article2”)
◯ Check out our guide on common questions to expect during a Japanese job interview and prepare your answers in advance to avoid akward silence during the interview,
Documents to bring:
◯ Multiple copies of your resume (Rirekisho) and job application (Shokumukeirekisho)
◯ Your passport, residence card, or another form of identification
◯ Any certificates, transcripts, or diplomas relevant to the position
◯ A professional notebook and pen to take notes during the interview
Conservative and professional attire is expected for Japanese job interviews. Even if the job you are applying for does not require a strict business dress code in daily work situations, it is still important to dress professionally for the interview. This demonstrates your respect for the company, the interviewer, and the hiring process, increasing your chances of making a positive impression on your potential employer. It also shows that you understand and adhere to Japanese cultural norms, which is particularly important if you are a foreign applicant.
The following tips will help you dress appropriately:
● Dark-colored business suit (navy or black)
● White dress shirt
● Conservative tie
● Polished dress shoes
● Minimal or no jewelry
● Neatly groomed hair and facial hair
● Dark-colored business suit (navy or black) with a knee-length skirt or pants
● White blouse
● Low-heeled, closed-toe shoes
● Minimal makeup and jewelry
● Neatly styled hair, preferably tied back
In some cases, companies with more casual work environments may specify a relaxed dress code for the interview. However, if no specific guidance is given, erring on the side of formality is the safest approach.
Practicing proper interview etiquette is crucial for making a positive impression during a Japanese job interview. The following guidelines will help you navigate the interview process with finesse:
● Plan your route to the interview location in advance and account for potential delays in transportation.
● Aim to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early to demonstrate your respect for the interviewers’ time and commitment.
● If unforeseen circumstances cause you to be late, contact the company immediately to inform them of the situation and provide an estimated arrival time.
Greetings and Business Card Exchange:
● Offer a polite bow (15-30 degrees) upon meeting the interviewer and when leaving the interview room. The depth of the bow should correspond to the level of respect you wish to convey.
● If business cards are presented, receive them with both hands. Take a moment to read the card before carefully placing it on the table in front of you or in a cardholder. Do not put the card in your pocket or write on it during the interview.
● Do not expect a handshake as they are less common in Japan. If a handshake is initiated by the interviewer, use a firm but gentle grip and avoid maintaining eye contact for an extended period.
Entering the Interview Room:
● Wait for the interviewer to guide you into the room and indicate where you should sit.
● Before taking your seat, stand behind the chair and bow slightly towards the interviewers.
● Sit down only after the interviewers have taken their seats. Make sure to maintain good posture throughout the interview.
● Make sure to maintain good posture throughout the interview.
● Make eye contact when speaking or being spoken to, but avoid excessive or intense eye contact as it may be perceived as disrespectful or confrontational.
● Keep your hands on your lap or the table when seated, and avoid crossing your arms or legs, as these gestures can be interpreted as closed-off or defensive.
● Nod occasionally while listening to show your engagement and understanding of what the interviewer is saying.
● Speak clearly and politely, using Keigo (honorific language) when addressing the interviewer. This demonstrates your respect for their position and the formality of the situation.
● Pause briefly before answering a question to show you are considering your response thoughtfully.
● Avoid interrupting the interviewer and allow them to finish speaking before you respond. If you need clarification, wait for a natural pause in the conversation to ask your questions.
● Express gratitude for the opportunity to interview with the company and for the interviewer’s time.
Sending a thank-you email or letter after the interview is an essential part of Japanese job interview etiquette. Here are some tips for crafting a thoughtful follow-up message:
● Send the message within 24 hours of the interview.
● Address the interviewer by their last name followed by the honorific title “様(sama).”
● Express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview, and reiterate your interest in the position.
● Mention a specific point discussed during the interview that resonated with you or highlights your suitability for the job.
● Keep the message concise and professional.
Understanding Japanese job interview etiquette is crucial to making a positive impression and increasing your chances of success in the competitive Japanese job market. By following the guidelines and tips provided in this article, you will be well-prepared to tackle your next Japanese job interview with confidence.
Make sure to also check out our guide on Best practices for making a strong impression during a job interview.
Best of luck with your job search in Japan!