Nailing the Code: Japanese Interviews Unveiled

Posted 8 months ago

Jp Biz Et 2

The global job market is rife with opportunities, but few places offer the unique blend of tradition and innovation like Japan. For bilingual foreigners, Japan presents lucrative prospects. Yet, breaking into the Japanese job market isn't just about your linguistic prowess or professional qualifications; it's about understanding and embracing the cultural nuances that underpin Japanese business etiquette. Here, amidst Japanese job interviews, cultural insights don't just help—they become the cornerstone of your success.


Unravelling The Essence of 'Keigo'

Stepping into a Japanese interview room, you're not just entering a physical space but a cultural realm. One of the first challenges and most distinct elements you'll encounter is "keigo". A form of the Japanese language characterized by its polite and respectful tone, 'keigo' isn’t just about using the right words, but reflecting an understanding and respect for hierarchy and formality inherent in Japanese business culture.

For instance, when expressing gratitude in an interview setting, instead of a simple "ありがとう (Thank you)", you'd often hear "ありがとうございます (Thank you very much)", showcasing a deeper level of respect. Mastering 'keigo' doesn't merely mean acing the interview; it’s a testament to your commitment to integrating into the Japanese professional world.

Time-Honored Etiquette: Beyond Words 

While 'keigo' is vital, actions often speak louder. Japanese business etiquette is rich, detailed, and symbolic. Let’s delve into some pivotal aspects:

  • Punctuality Matters: In Japan, time is more than gold; it's a reflection of your respect for others. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early for your interview. If unforeseen delays loom, inform the company with utmost urgency.

  • Graceful Entry: Etiquette begins at the door. Deposit your coat at the entrance. As you knock thrice and gently utter "失礼しつれいします" (Shitsurei shimasu - Excuse me), be ready for the welcoming "どうぞ" (Douzo - Please enter) from the interviewer. A courteous bow seals your graceful entry.

  • The Art of Introduction: Seated, it's time to introduce yourself. But remember, it's more than just stating your name. "はじめまして。本日はありがとうございます。…と申もうします。どうぞよろしくお願いします." (Hajimemashite. Honjitsu wa arigatou gozaimasu. moushimasu. Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.) This phrase, which translates to "Nice to meet you. Thank you for today. My name is... Please treat me well/ I look forward to working with you", underlines your respect and gratitude for the opportunity.

  • Navigating the Conversation: Interviews are as much about listening as speaking. Maintain an erect posture, exuding confidence. Speak clearly, ensuring you address the posed questions without diverting into tangents. Your ability to listen attentively, reflecting on questions before answering, will set you apart.

By internalizing and displaying this etiquette, you're not just preparing for a job interview in Japan; you're preparing for a successful career in the Japanese job market. These guidelines go beyond the interview room. They're invaluable insights into working in Japan as a foreigner, offering you an advantage not just in securing the job but excelling in it.


Job interviews, anywhere in the world, are daunting. But in Japan, where tradition meets modernity, it's a test of both your professional skills and cultural adaptability. As you prepare to navigate the intricate world of job interviews in Japan, remember: it's not just about what you say, but how you say and do it. Armed with these insights, approach your next Japanese job interview with renewed confidence and finesse. The Land of the Rising Sun awaits your success!