Japanese job interview questions – what to expect

How to Prepare for a Japanese Job Interview: Typical Questions – Part 2

This is the second part of our guide to common Japanese interview questions, in which we provide some pointers and suggestions to help your prepare your answers. In Part 2 we will look at some awkward questions that can be tricky to answer, and also some questions that you might want to ask.

8. 残業や休日出勤はできますか
(Zangyō ya kyūjitsu shukkin wa dekimasu ka)
“Can you work overtime or come in on holidays?”

Being able to work overtime and come in on holidays is a common requirement for workers in Japan. However, you want to show that you will use your regular work time efficiently and not misuse overtime as a means to increase your salary. State simply that you are perfectly willing to work outside the normal office hours during busy periods and when it is necessary.

9. 長所について教えてください
(Chōsho ni tsuite oshiete kudasai)
“Please tell me about your strengths.”

The ideal answer to this question involves strengths that happen to tally with skills needed for the job. When answering, be confident without being boastful, and give specific examples from your work experience that show how these really are your strong points.

10. 短所について教えて下さい
(Tansho ni tsuite oshiete kudasai)
“Please tell me about your weak points.”

When answering this question avoid talking about qualities and skills that are necessary for the job. Don’t say that you are a perfectionist or that you work too hard as this will seem contrived and insincere. You might however, talk about a specific positive quality that you do to excess — such as being over-optimistic when planning a project schedule. In this way you can show a degree of self-awareness, and then talk about the steps you are taking to improve on this weak point.

11. 将来的に転勤もありえます。大丈夫ですか
(Shōrai-teki ni tenkin mo ariemasu. Daijōbu desu ka)
“There is a possibility of relocation in the future. Would you be okay with that?”

Transfers to a different branch of a company are the norm in Japan and are seen as important for your career development. Stating that you are open to relocation, or that you would consider it under certain circumstances will show your commitment to the job. However, if you have very strong reasons not to move (such as family commitments) then you should be honest about it rather than saying “yes” for now and facing a dilemma later on when asked to relocate.

12. これまでの失敗体験を教えてください
(Kore made no shippai taiken o oshiete kudasai)
“Please tell us about an experience of failure you have had in the past.”

Everybody makes mistakes. The interviewer wants you to show that when you make a mistake you take responsibility for it and that you learn from that experience. You should prepare a clear and concise account of such an experience, but be sure to pick an example that isn’t too disastrous or that makes you look careless. A good example would be a mistake that could happen to anyone, perhaps based on your inexperience, and that you definitely learned a lesson from. If you can add how you then went on to avoid making similar mistakes you will have given the perfect answer.

13. 何か質問はありますか
(Nanika shitsumon wa arimasu ka?)
“Do you have any questions?”

This is your opportunity to ask about anything you are particularly interested in or not sure about.From your questions the interviewer can tell how motivated you are to join the company. You should have properly researched the company in advance, so don’t waste time asking questions that could be easily answered with a search of their website. Safe topics include questions about the role and day-to-day duties of the job, or how you should prepare before joining the company. You can also ask more general questions about the company, such as their management structure, their company values, or ask the interviewers what they like personally about working there. You should prepare multiple questions as some may be covered during the course of the interview.

Part 1

Michael Lambe