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You Should Learn These Basic Japanese Job Interview Questions

Don’t get caught off guard at the interview. Prepare, practice, perform!

By 3 min read

A few years back, when I was interviewing for what I thought was a typical English job, all of a sudden, the interviewer switched to Japanese. “I’m sorry,” I managed to spit out, surprised by the change of pace, “I wasn’t aware that this interview would have a Japanese part.” Instead of answering, he pointed to where it said on my resume, “proficient in Japanese.”

Regardless of the job you want in Japan, you have to think seriously about your キャリア (career) and what スキル (skills) you can offer your employer. Interviews can be daunting enough, even at the best of times, without the added complication of doing it in Japanese.

So while you press your most impressive interview clothes, remember that it’s never too late to cram some typical Japanese interview questions into your brain, just in case. 

Breaking the ice at the interview

“Sure. I can answer that. First, how important are pants, really?”

Japanese interviews tend to dispense with the small talk that is common in western countries and get down to business straight away. There are generally three parts. The interview will start with questions about your Japanese level, then softball questions that most people could answer, and finish off with questions about the company itself and your attitude towards work. Here are some typical “introduction” questions.

English Japanese Romaji
Japanese level 日本語のレベル Nihongo no reberu
When did you come to Japan? いつ日本に来ましたか Itsu nihon ni kimashita ka?
Do you think you could work in the Japanese business environment? 日本の環境で働けますか Nihon no kankyou de hatarakemasu ka
Until when do you intend to live in Japan?  いつまで日本に住むつもりですか Itsumade nihon ni sumu tsumori desu ka
Why do you want to work in Japan? どうして日本で働きたいのですか Doushite nihon de hatarakitai no desu ka

Describing yourself

Once your level of Japanese has been established, the interviewer will then throw some softballs at you to find out more about you. Of course, the problem with softball questions is that a softball still hurts if you aren’t paying attention and get hit in the face by it. Therefore, study up on these terms even if they seem easy.

English Japanese Romaji
Self-introduction 自己紹介 Jikoshoukai
Educational background 学歴 Gakureki
Employment history 職務経歴 Shokumu keireki
One’s dreams Yume
Personality 性格 Seikaku
Experience 経験 Keiken
One’s merits 長所/強み Chousho/ tsuyomi
Weaknesses 短所 Tansho
Please tell me… ~教えてください Oshiete Kudasai
Reason for applying 応募動機 Oubodouki
Motivation 志望動機 Shiboudouki
Statement of purpose (that applicants likely wrote) 志望理由書 Shibouriyuusho
Hobby  趣味 Shumi

Now that you’ve smashed the softball out the park with confidence, they will likely ask you some more difficult questions. Some of the things they may ask you include:

English Japanese Romaji
What do you know about this company? 当社についてどんなことを知っていますか  Tousha ni tsuite donna koto wo shitte imasu ka 
What aspect of the company do you have the most interest in? 弊社のどのようなところに興味を持ちましたか Heisha no dono youna tokoro ni kyoumi wo mochimashita ka
Until now, what kind of employment have you had? 今までどんな仕事をしましたか? Ima made donna shigoto wo shimashita ka? 
The contents of your present job 現在の仕事内容 genzai no shigoto naiyou
Your reason for changing jobs 仕事を変えたい理由 shigoto wo kaetai riyuu
Can you contribute (to this company)? 貢献できますか koken dekimasu ka

Answering questions about the future

“In conclusion, please hire me.”

One of the tough things for a lot of us is thinking about our futures. After all, it can be tough to know what I’m doing at the end of the week, let alone in five years from now. Finishing things off can be tough, but get ready to answer questions like these:

English Japanese Romaji
What job do you hope to do in the future? 将来どんな仕事をしたいですか shourai donna shigoto wo shitai desu ka 
If we hired you, what would you like to achieve? 採用されたら、当社で達成したいことは何ですか Saiyō sa retara, tousha de tassei shitai koto wa nan desu ka 
What do you hope will happen in the next year? 一年後どうなりたいですか Ichi nengo dō naritai desu ka
Do you have any questions? 質問はありますか shitsumon ha arimasu ka

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive guide; there are countless interview questions that your interviewer could ask you. While you can’t prepare for everything, stay confident and calm, and, hopefully, you’ll land the job you’ve always wanted.

What are some of the most common Japanese interview questions you’ve received? Let us know in the comments.

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