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Answers for the most common Japanese interview questions: Part 1

The importance of getting the interview right gets talked about a lot.

The previous article shows how much and in what manner a candidate should answer turning the interview. With this one, we will hopefully get to the bottom of that famous rabbit hole and find out what to (actually) say. To get this right, I got the HR department (the people who literary ask these questions for a living) to put together a comprehensive list.

The Ice Breaker

Self Introduction (自己紹介)

It should not be too long. Keep it within two to three minutes and include some character-defining information, but do not overdo it with the details.
The purpose of this is to check the Japanese skills and form an impression of the candidates’ character.

The common Questions

Why did you come to Japan?

Don’t just say you like the language and the culture. That does not provide much insight into your character.
Explain why you like something instead. It is a bit like with literature classes in school where the teacher said ‘to show not to tell’.
The purpose of this question is the same as with the introduction. To see how good your Japanese skills are and to learn more about your character.

Work Skills

Professional background
Explain what you did in every position you held. For example, for an IT engineer position, you should break down every project in the following order:

  • Name the project (what it was about, the name of the system or the app and what it was for).
  • Give the project size (how many people were involved).
  • Technologies used (language, framework, DB and other tools).
  • Explain your role (what you did).

This question is to check (again) the level of your Japanese and your technical skills. It should also help you to demonstrate your ability to explain technicalities involving the position.

Why did you choose to change jobs?

Do not say anything negative.
You should be positive and demonstrate a clear vision for your career.
You can do this by talking about your career goals and what you hope to achieve filling the new position.

The thought of this question is to check if you can see yourself objectively and to make sure you have a solid understanding of your career goals. And to decide if you are likely to quit the company in a year or so.

In the next part, I will try and break down the ‘Vision’ question that gets much attention.



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