To wow potential employers and stand out from the rest of the applicant pool, you will need to make a good first impression. In the second post for A Little Training for ALTs series based on our experience over the years, here are six key points that recruiters tend to look at during interviews.
1. Your attitude
Having a positive outlook and determined mindset will score big points with any interviewer. Remember, they are there to ensure that your intentions with their company are genuine. Coming in with a smile, wearing proper business attire and being professional are all important points. Last but not least, try to greet everyone you come near when you enter the office.
2. Your motivation
It’s important to demonstrate that you can be proactive and open-minded. When employers see this, it gives them the opportunity to witness your commitment to being a successful employee. Try to be flexible and willing to test new ideas and experiences. When asked to do something new — even if you’ve never attempted it before — let your prospective employer know that you are at least enthusiastic and willing to give it a shot.
3. Your real life experiences
Work experience is very important, but it alone does not determine if a candidate gets hired or not. You can have a lot of experience, but if you don’t have an open mind and a willingness to learn new things — you probably won’t get hired. If you have no ALT experience yet you can show a willingness to pitch in and contribute to the company and your schools, you will probably get the job. So what have you done outside of your resume? Skills that you’ve picked up throughout your life, whether through hobbies, projects or during school, could be relevant to your potential for success as an ALT.
4. Your level of Japanese
While you don’t have to be fluent in Japanese, knowing some of the language helps. Understanding a little useful and work-specific Japanese makes things easier for Japanese teachers and staff to communicate with you. It also helps the process in finding you a position.
5. Your ability to improvise
Most likely you will be asked to do a demo lesson, either on the spot or sometime later. Always have a sample lesson prepared — even for the first interview. The length of the lesson will vary depending on the company. Some may tell you in the interview request email that they want a demo lesson, while others will ask you on the spot during or at the end of the interview.
6. Your inquisitiveness about the company
It’s always good to have a few follow-up questions prepared to ask during or after the interview. It shows that you’re assertive and interested in the position. Questions should pertain to details of the company and how you can help and thrive as an employee. Questions solely about your salary are not good — it sounds as though you are only interested in money and not in the position or school itself.
Of course each company is different, but for the most part these six qualities are what recruiters and interviewers generally look for. It can be nerve-wracking doing an interview in Japan but the more prepared you are for it, the better your results will be.
Just have an open mind, be yourself in the interview and do your best. Ganbatte!
Text by Gustavo Magana. As HR manager he handles recruiting, hiring, maintaining work culture and employee relations while resolving conflicts.