There are many aspects about Japanese interviews that make them comparatively different from Western ones. A significant contrast is how they thoroughly try to analyze your “人柄 (hitogara)”, or in English, your personality. Here are some quick tips for you to use in your next interview!
Your Experience is Important But…
Great, you have the skill set and the experiences the company is looking for. However, just throwing that information at your interviewer won’t do you any good. If you take a moment to think about it, there are probably, countless of people just like you, with the same resume. So how does one stand out amongst the crowd? You guessed it, that’s where the importance of your personality comes in. Obviously throughout the interview, your interviewer won’t be directly asking you what your personality is. Instead, they’ll be looking for some hints in what you say. For an instance, when you are asked about your experience, they may be looking out for information such as:
• Why did you decide to do it?
• What was a problem you came across?
• How did you solve it?
• What did you learn from it?
From this, the interviewers try to understand your thought-process. Needless to say, nobody wants to hear your life story. Finding the perfect balance of explaining the topic and your experience is the key.
What Traits are They Looking For?
Place yourself in the shoes of the interviewer, working at the company. Who would you want to work with? Most likely, not a stuck-up co-worker. Just like anybody who works in a team, they want people with traits such as being honest, goal-orientated, positive, self-motivative, and communicative. You can get these one or two of these traits across to the interviewer through explaining your experiences, on a thorough scale, as mentioned above.
“Why Do You Want Work Here?”
You might have your particular reasons for wanting to work there, you might really not. It might just be because they pay well, and you have nothing else in mind. Even with a simple question such as this, interviewers do try to understand you better as a person with this question. Some of us blatantly want to answer this question with, “Because this company is famous”. But rather than trying to get on their good-side by over-complimenting the company, perhaps it may be a smarter move to link in your personal experiences with the reason why you want to work at that place. Explain what you want to do if you get the job, why that is, and perhaps with a personal input on why you feel like it has to be this specific company. Only telling the interviewers what they already know about their company doesn’t leave much of an impression.
Interviewers are Thinking of the Future
Why do Japanese companies care so much about personalities? It’s simply because they are constantly thinking about the future. They don’t want someone just for the time being, they want somebody that will be able to work with them for a long time. Putting your personality into consideration allows for them to foresee your longevity with the company. It’s somewhat similar to having somebody join a family—you don’t just have anybody into your circle. If you had experienced a culture shock in a Japanese interview, let us know down in the comments! Meanwhile, stay tuned for more Japanese related content.