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Dealing with the Jikoshoukai

At most interviews in Japan, the applicant is expected to prepare a self-introduction. This can be one of the most challenging parts of the interview.

By 3 min read 3

Giving a 自己紹介(じこしょうかい) or self-introduction at school is one thing, but doing the same thing in an interview is a far more daunting challenge. After all, simply condensing everything that you want to say about your life and experiences up to that point in a minute can seem overwhelming.

On top of this, you will be expected to deliver it in a way that is understandable and uses the appropriate respectful grammar forms. The difficulties that the 自己紹介じこしょうかい・Introduction present a great opportunity. Doing it correctly, even if the interview is in English, can be a great way to distinguish yourself.

If in doubt, add a formal ending, as it is better to be too formal than not formal enough.

The rule at most Japanese interviews is always best to go as formal as possible. If in doubt, add a formal ending, as it is better to be too formal than not formal enough. Therefore, after all the necessary bowing has been completed you will give your name with ~と(もう)します which is a polite way to say ‘My name is~’. Most Japanese people will also add どうぞ宜しくお願いします which means something similar to ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

After the formalities are out the way, the introduction itself will start. Usually the interviewer will say something like


(Please give me your self-introduction)

to let you know that the first stage of the interview has begun. Be aware that in some interviews you may still be standing when this opportunity arises, so when practicing at home, remember to practice both sitting down and standing up.

The good news is that if you practice too much and appear robotic, it is usual to sound a little over-rehearsed. Most of the Japanese people I spoke to when preparing this article admitted that they carefully prepared their 自己紹介 beforehand, so don’t worry if you sound like you’ve spent days drilling your speech in front of the bathroom mirror, just make sure that the content of the speech is good.

For foreign people it is usually a good idea to start your interview by telling the interviewer where you are from. If you are from London, England, you would start with


After that I usually find that the university that you studied at is the most important thing, especially if it is a noteworthy university.

I usually add my reason for coming to Japan here too, especially if they are connected as it makes it look like one interconnected path from graduation to the job interview. Someone who studied linguistics at the University of London and then came to Japan to continue their studies, for example, would say:


(I studied Linguistics at the University of London)


(And then came to Japan to study Japanese).

As the conversation is now about Japan, you may also want to add something about the job that you worked in Japan. Someone who started as a teacher in a high school would say:


By discussing your previous work, this sets up a perfect opportunity to talk about your work and relevant experience.


followed by a list of your relevant work experience is a good way to segue into this topic.

If I am going to talk about my hobbies or interests, I will usually do it at the end of my 自己紹介. Be aware that talking about hobbies should be kept to a minimum in Japanese job interviews. If I do talk about my outside interests, I will usually talk about the benefits for the company that my favorite activities offer such as the teamwork and planning involved.

After this the interview itself will begin. Be ready to expand on any of the points that you touched upon in your introduction. After the interview, it is a good idea to end with something like:

御社/ 御校(おんしゃ/おんこう)でもこれらの経験(けいけん)()かして。。。

(Taking advantage of my experience at this office/ school…)

followed by an explanation of what specifically you offer the school.

An example of the end of this sentence for a job in education might be 生徒(せいと)(そだ)てていきたいと(かんが)えています (I feel I can raise the student correctly).

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  • papiGiulio says:

    Great insights, great post.

    Just wondering if this sentence is correct or if its missing something?

  • maulinator says:

    This is a good primer for an individual right out of school, but not as relevant for a mid-career or senior position interview. I interview candidates for positions all the time and have been an interviewee or an interviewer in over 300 situations.
    When answering the self-introduction question, usually it is better to start with your most recent experiences and then go choronologically backwards. Try to mention the projects /responsibilities that pertain to the position that you are interviewing for.
    University and hometown are not as relevant, clearly in a mid-career poaching interview. More important is questions about the company you are interviewing for and the role. How you can add value is key and mention any sid eprojects that you are interested in that pertain to work.
    Also remember that the interview is not over until you leave the building. Be on guard until you leave, you don’t know who is watching and from where.



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