In an ideal world, having the right qualifications, the relevant experience and of course, being good at the job would get the applicant hired right away. The reality is, you can have all these positive attributes, but still fail the interview. And since dropped candidates rarely get given feedback or a reason for not getting hired, you might even repeat the same mistake.
Here is a list of simple, yet recurring reasons Japanese interviewers pass on applicants.
A greeting should be polite and well pronounced. Assuming the interview is in Japanese, you should make sure you use the right form of greeting and never use slang nor shorten words.
Even seasoned business people get this wrong sometimes. A language that has become a habit is easy to surface, especially so when being nervous- like at a job interview.
Taking too long to introduce yourself is a common thing to get wrong. To ‘tell about yourself’ should not take longer than two minutes- three at the most.
The person interviewing you is expecting answers to common questions like these to be well polished. It shows that you have prepared for the interview.
To show good manners and to be polite is a good thing to practice in all of life’s situations. Failing to do so because the interview has made you nervous shows that you have no self-control. Or even that you might be someone with poor manners.
Sit when offered.
Show good posture.
Thank the interviewer/s for giving you the time.
Are some easy things candidates often forget.
Tone in speech
Be consistent with polite speech. Depending on how you learned Japanese, this can be either very easy or very difficult. If you learned to speak Japanese the formal way, in the university or at a proper language school, you are probably used to using the polite form more than the casual.
When you learned from friends or by popular media, you have to pay attention not to slip back to casual. Some interviewers are friendlier than others. To relax a little is fine but don’t lose focus. Just because the interviewer/s is/are friendly does not mean that they are your friends. It is still a business situation, and slipping back to casual speech shows poor self-control.
Answering the motivation question
Whether you really-really like the company’s products or the brand or you thought the working environment most suitable for your skillset, you have to convey it the right way.
Drowning the interviewer in compliments might be flattering, but it does nothing in the form of showing what you would contribute to the company.
The same with only talking about yourself might not be enough to display your interest in that particular company.
Answering the motivation question
Even if it says, ‘casual’ or ‘smart-casual’, interviews in Japan are thought of as formal occasions. Overdressing is almost always better than underdressing.
Even if your job title does not require you to wear a suit and tie, showing up in that old coffee-stained hoodie you write your best code in is very unlikely to impress the interviewers.
You want your clothes to show that you made an effort without standing out too much.
Having a bag that comfortably fits an a4 file is considered standard in Japan. If you don’t have one and are not likely to ever use one after the interview, get a smart looking file cover(not the see-through type).
Clean up your social media presence. It is easier said than done, but the employers will run a google check on you at the minimum, would be a shame if the first thing they see is pictures of you with a traffic cone on your head wrestling with the cab driver.
The same goes for post-interview Twitter posts. Don’t post anything even remotely related to the company, especially the interview.
Most of these only require common sense to get right. Yet somehow these mistakes keep happening, and the hiring agents keep turning applicants down because of them. Be aware of these and maybe even do a mock interview. Record yourself and see if you got any of these wrong. Practice builds good habits, or so they say.