My first interview in Japanese today. Any advice?

So I have an interview with a Japanese company after work today! I’m usually good with interviews in general as I’m a strong communicator but this is the first time it will be entirely in Japanese so I’m a little nervous. I’ve been looking up some practice questions and practicing how I may answer them. Anyone with experience have any tips or advice? Or maybe even just a 頑張れよ!負けるな!to help calm the nerves? Haha thanks, guys!


A big hearty 頑張れ!


No advice. My Japanese is trash. But 頑張れ!


Will you be expected to use keigo? Or is it not that kind of position?

I’ve done one job interview totally in Japanese. Don’t know if I have any Japanese-specific advice, but good luck.


Thank you! I’m not expected to be able to speak keigo right out of the gate (thank god) but my teineigo is expected to be “business level”. I have the bad habit of switching back to casual speech when I’m speaking teineigo, its muscle memory. So I’ll have to try and avoid that hahah.


I bookmarked this video ages ago for listening practice but the role play examples may help out:


Ah, that’s not so bad if you don’t need to use keigo in the interview.

I guess I would just say don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat a question. Before I did the full video interview I had a phone conversation to talk about setting the interview up, and right off the bat I knew it would be tricky. The person was using full-blown keigo and so it was difficult to understand at certain points. I got a little flustered on the phone (nothing stupid, just took me longer to respond than typical) but I probably should have just asked him to repeat things now and then.


Awesome thanks! Thankfully its online so I don’t have to worry too much about the physical manners but still good to apply what I can. Also, I love how the narrator says to speak slowly and clearly right after homeboy speaks fast af lololol. Damn I still got a long ways to go! :sweat_smile: :joy: :sob:


I am probably worse at Japanese than you, but, I would say try be as relaxed as possible. When I speak Japanese if I am nervous my speaking skills go way down.



That’s great advice and true for me too haha. Thank you !!!

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Probably too late, but here’s my bit of advice. Speak teineigo the rest of the day, regardless of who you’re speaking to. That might help you get into the mindset. Adopting the mannerisms can help you stay in it as well, call it method acting, if you will :wink:.

How do you feel about the interview, now?


Damn, these new gradute interviews are harsh. They are making applicants as uncomfortable as possible.

I definitely expect different treatment when applying for a more senior position. Pretty much, the company needs me more than I need them because experienced people are hard to find (that’s at least true over here in the Northern Europe)

Maybe too late, but if you or anyone else is interested, I successfully got a job at a big Japanese company after an online interview and a second in-person interview, all in Japanese, so I’ll write some thoughts.

First of all, I am still vaguely shocked I got the job as my Japanese is ほぼN2, with emphasis on ほぼ…
I think what really clinched it for me was that I went through a recruiter (again in Japanese; though there are foreigner targeting ones providing services in English) who were very helpful on providing advice about the company (culture, expectations for me) as well as extensive and detailed advice on the interview itself, such as providing a list of typical interview questions I could prepare in advance for.
Japanese people also need tips on Japanese interview procedures and etiquette! Who knew!

If you don’t go through a recruiter, I would say the same principles apply: read up on the company as much as possible; check online for comments on ‘company culture/atmosphere’ – you really don’t want to end up working for a black company; and prepare prepare prepare.

Specific tips I have on doing the interview in Japanese:

  • Acknowledge to yourself that Japanese is not your first language and will be imperfect. Reduce that stress as much as possible. The interviewers know that and will understand (unless it’s a Japanese language related job!).

  • Speak in brief, simple sentences, sticking to masu verb form as much as possible. If you are an amazing linguist, then fine, complexity is ok, but at interview the key question they have is simply “will be you be able to communicate at work” and if you trip yourself up trying to impress with super complex sentences then that will count against you. Interestingly, this is also advice I’ve heard given to Japanese applicants.

  • Make sure to learn the typical interview etiquette ‘set phrases’ for Japanese interviews (as seen in the video above) i.e. どうぞよろしくお願いいたします and お忙しいところのお時間いただきありがとうございます。This goes a long way as it shows you’re willing to adapt to their culture!

  • In-person interviews: carry a ‘business bag’. Google “ビジネスバッグ” for examples. This is a black hand-bag that all white collar employees carry, and is a necessity at interview apparently. Mine had nothing in it when I sat my interview lol. Bring a notebook and pen for notes.

  • Finally, make sure to ask them questions to show engagement with them and with the company as much as possible. In my case, a question about the workplace 食堂 food broke a lot of tension and helped get us all on the same page!

Good luck! Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t go well – I had to fail one interview before succeeding at this one! In any event, overall it’s an interesting experience. I found I learned a lot from it, even though it was pretty painful at the time!


This is such BS :roll_eyes: Who cares if I have a business bag or not. I always prefer a backpack because it’s healthier for the back.

Thanks for sharing. What kind of dynamic was there in the room during your interview?


It’s part of the uniform.


I hope your interview will go well! Believe in yourself. :+1:



I know right?! I only heard it was ‘necessary’ the morning of my interview and so didn’t have time to get a cheap donki one. Had to spend a fortune at a fancy bag shop that was on the way :roll_eyes:

Dynamic wise, pretty standard job interview. Two guys from HR, one taking down my answers and one asking HR related questions. Third guy was the head of my new department and started off ‘bad cop’ or at least, seemed pretty strict in his attitude. Asked the more awkward, technical questions to begin with, but loosened up once we established some common ground.
Curveball/awkward questions I got that it might be useful to mention:

  • “Why are you applying for a job here with a Japanese company? Wouldn’t getting a job at an international/western company with an office in Japan be more suitable/easy?”
    My answer was along the lines of “well to do the work I want to do and am qualified for (I’m in sci/tech), only Japanese companies have these jobs in Japan. Foreign companies do not have that kind of presence, being sales offices etc.”
    To be honest, this question stumped me at the first interview where I didn’t pass. I didn’t want to say the truth which was “no western company in my field is hiring in Japan during the pandemic”, and only got a stumbling answer out about really loving this company in particular lol

  • [I’ve been in Japan nearly 6 years] "Please tell us how your perceptions of Japan and Japanese culture have changed between when you first arrived and now…in English please.
    This was pretty wild, but the HR guy explained his reasoning was people communicate their true feelings most accurately in their native language. Which…fair enough I guess. Though I’m pretty sure I lost them half-way through my answer, as it went on a bit lol

I can’t remember the exact time, but the interview lasted about 45-60 mins. I started to be able to tell it was going in a positive direction when they began asking me about things they could do to accomodate me, such as assistance with house rent/moving etc.


Aye but that’s true everywhere. Plus once you’ve actually been on the other side of the table it’s much less scary.


Haha, yeah definitely! But it could vary from company to company and from person to person. My colleagues told me that I’m a tough interviewer but I just have low tolerance for BS. If the applicant starts to dance around the question instead of saying they don’t know something it’s such a waste of time in my opinion.

And when you’ve worked in the industry for a while you also know what kind of work tasks to expect and you probably have good stories of similar tasks. So the interviews are much more on equal footing.

Yeah… I am dreading the though of switching careers and starting from zero again :grimacing:


Another advantage to that is building up contacts over the years. I’ve got a few colleagues at NTT DOCOMO that I could call for references if I wanted to work in Japan.

But I’ve also had my share of awkward interviews for entry level positions. That was 20 years ago so age confers perspective if nothing else.

I also wonder how the etiquette would be if the interviewee was older than the interviewers. There may be more reciprocal respect in that case.