If you have been offered a mensetsu (面接, interview) with a Japanese company, it is important that you prepare yourself in advance for the Japanese interview style. Interview etiquette is strictly regulated in Japan, with a set pattern of things you should and should not do. In this article, we offer tips for each stage of the interview process. Recommended below are the correct manners, behavior, posture, and communication style that will all serve to make a good impression on your prospective employers and get you that dream job in Japan.
In general it is not a good idea to be either too early or late for an interview. The prime time to arrive is 10 minutes before the interview begins. If you are unavoidably delayed, then you should call ahead immediately and inform the company of your arrival time. Before entering the company building, you should turn off your mobile phone, then take off your coat and hold it in your hand. Check your appearance one last time and then head for reception. At reception you can announce your arrival like this:
konnichiwa. honjitsu ku-ji yori mensetsu no yoyaku o shiteorimasu, Sumisu Amanda to moushimasu.
“Hello. I have an interview today from 9 o’clock. My name is Amanda Smith. “
You may then be directed to a waiting area before your interview begins. While waiting to be called for your interview, do not play with your smartphone or read a book. You should maintain a straight posture and wait quietly. This is a good time to prepare yourself mentally for the interview.
Entering the Interview Room
When you are called for your interview you should knock gently on the door three times and wait for a response:
douzo, ohairi kudasai.
“Please, come in. “
When you this reply, you should clearly say shitsurei shimasu (失礼します, “excuse me”) as you enter the room. Having entered you should then turn to face the door in order to close it. Casually closing the door behind you is considered bad manners. Having entered the room you should then greet the interviewer (s) clearly and with confidence:
hajimemashite, Sumisu Amanda desu. honjitsu wa yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m Amanda Smith. Thank you for seeing me today. “
And then bow. Men should remember to bow with their arms by their sides whilst women should hold their hands in front of them.
Always wait until an interviewer is seated before sitting down yourself. The interviewer will most likely say douzo (どうぞ, “go ahead”) which means you can take a seat. If you have been waiting in the interview room, you should stand to greet the interviewer (s) when they enter and then wait until they are seated before you sit down. After sitting down you can then put your bag or briefcase down beside your chair.
During the Interview
During the interview you should sit with a straight posture and do not cross your legs or fold your arms. Listen to the questions carefully and give clear, calm, concise answers with moderate gestures. Study your keigo (敬語, “respectful language”) before the interview so that you can consistently speak with suitable levels of politeness. To convey a positive impression, look at your interviewer as you converse, or if there is more than one interviewer look at whoever is speaking. If you generally find it hard to hide your nerves, you can train yourself prior to the interview. Try practicing your prepared answers into a mirror while adopting a moderately cheerful, relaxed expression.
Finishing the interview
The interviewer will announce the interview is over by saying something like:
sore dewa, mensetsu wa kore de shuuryou desu.
“Now, we have come to the end of the interview. “
In response you should say the following while still in your seat.
honjitsu wa kichouna ojikan o itadaki, doumo arigatou gozaimashita.
“Thank you very much for your valuable time today. “
Then stand and bow while saying (失礼いたします, “excuse me”). You should then take your bag, turn and move to the door. Turn back one more time to bow, before quietly leaving the room and closing the door gently behind you.