What is the Purpose of the Jikoshokai?
In daily life, there are many circumstances that require you to introduce yourself to new people, such as at school, when joining a new club, or on your first day at work. Depending on the circumstances, your self-introduction might vary, but in general, it should focus on giving the most basic and general information about yourself so that others can get an idea of who you are.
When it comes to introducing yourself in a job interview, however, the stakes are a bit higher. Your aim should still be to let the recruiters know who you are and where you come from, but at the same time, it is your chance to set the tone for the rest of the interview and is an opportunity to create a lighter atmosphere for you and the interviewers. It only lasts for the first few minutes of the interview but the jikoshokai decides the interviewer’s impression of you and can ultimately affect the final outcome of the interview.
Information to Include in Your Jikoshokai
The self-introduction is the first part of the interview and usually takes up only about a minute or two. Therefore, you need to carefully choose only the most important information about yourself so that you will be able to finish your introduction in a reasonable amount of time.
The essential points to cover are:
- Full name
- Name of university, faculty, and major studied
- Volunteer activities, part-time jobs as a student (only for new graduates with no work experience)
- Work experience
- Skills, degrees, languages you can speak
- Personality preferences
- Closing greeting
Also, be sure to make a clear distinction between the self-introduction (jikoshokai) and the self-PR (jiko PR). The jikoshokai is an introduction of your basic information, whereas the jiko PR is an overview of your strengths and skills that prove you are suitable for the position. After finishing the jikoshokai, some recruiters may ask you to separately give a jiko PR as well. This is when you can comfortably speak about your strengths.
A Few Tips to Make Your Jikoshokai More Impressive
Include Greetings at the Beginning and the End
Before you begin to introduce yourself, you should start with a greeting, or a phrase to express gratitude, instead of going straight into saying “My name is ….”. You can start with something simple like 本日お時間をいただきありがとうございます (Thank you very much for your time today). This can help you to show that you are a humble and polite person.
Then, after finishing the self-introduction part, end by saying: 本日は宜しくお願いします。 This both serves as a sign that your self-introduction is finished and also shows that you are polite and professional.
Be Sure to State Your Name Clearly, Especially if You Don’t Have a Japanese Name
Compared to Japanese names, names from other countries are often very long and tricky for Japanese people to pronounce. So, after introducing your full name, you should always say ○○をお呼びください (“Please call me …”) to make it easier for the recruiters. In addition, this contributes to creating a more comfortable atmosphere, helping to narrow the gap between you and the recruiters.
Instead of Just Stating Your Interests or Hobbies, Connect Them to Something That You Did
When talking about your interests, instead of simply saying things like “I like to play sports,” or “I enjoy computer programming,” it’s best if you can connect your hobbies to specific actions that you took. For example, you could say “I love playing sports, and recently joined the badminton club near the place I am living.” Or, “I have loved computers ever since I was a child, and that is the reason I chose to study computer programming when entering university.”
Citing a specific story or action related to your hobby will help you show the recruiters your specific interests and can also help to give them more material to work off of when making conversation with you.
Should You Even Include Your Personal Interests / Hobbies in the Jikoshokai?
People often wonder whether they should bother to include their interests in the self-introduction at all. Whether or not you should depends on what kind of job you are applying for, as well as your own personal preference.
If your interests are work-related—for example, if you enjoy reading and are interviewing for a book editor position at a publishing company—then you should definitely mention it to make a good impression on the recruiters. Otherwise, if you have other interesting personal interests that you think might impress the recruiters or be a positive topic for conversation, those are also worth introducing. However, avoid talking about irrelevant or overly generic hobbies that can’t be connected to an action or won’t help to broaden the conversation with the recruiters.
The Jikoshokai Can Be Combined With the Reason You Applied For the Job
Usually, the reason for your application will be questioned by the recruiters at some point in the interview, but you can also add this content into your jikoshokai, if it fits naturally. For example, you could say “In college, I majored in web design, which is why I am currently looking for a job like this one where I can use my skills and knowledge to design exciting websites.
Note that you don’t have to go too deep into the reason for applying here, as the recruiters will likely ask this question later. However, being able to cleverly integrate it into your introduction will show that you will be a hard-working, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic employee in the future.
Introduce Your Relevant Experience, Leave Out the Rest
The jikoshokai is your chance to let the recruiters know who you are, but that does not mean you have to list all of your experience. In fact, you shouldn’t list everything that you’ve done in your career but instead should choose only the most valuable information that the recruiters need and want to know about you.
If you are someone who has worked for many years and has experience in many different fields, only introduce your experience that is relevant to the current position you are applying for. Going over each and every job you had will not help to impress the recruiters at all and will only serve to make your self-introduction more rambling and lengthy.
If you are a recent graduate who doesn’t have much experience, you can focus instead on hobbies and on activities that you participated in when you were a student to show the recruiters that you have certain qualities and interests that are related to the job.
For example, if you were interviewing for a game programming company, you could talk about your gaming interests and the coding projects you worked on in school. Or, if applying for a job that requires an active, enthusiastic person, you could talk about your volunteer activities or other experiences that involved actively engaging with other people.
Pay Attention to Your Posture and Body Language
The content of your introduction and the way you convey it is, of course, extremely important but your sitting posture and facial expressions can be almost equally as important. Be sure to do the following while speaking:
Make eye contact with the recruiters: Eye contact is just as important as verbal communication. Making eye contact while you are talking will show the interviewers that you are speaking earnestly and that you are fully engaged in the interview. As almost every job will involve at least some level of interaction and communication with your coworkers, demonstrating that you are personable and a skilled communicator is very important.
Smile: Try to keep your facial expressions comfortable, smiling to shorten the distance between you and the recruiters and to create a more comfortable atmosphere for the interview.
Sit upright and relax: Do not fiddle with your hands or lean back in the chair during the interview. Try to sit up straight but without tensing up, keeping a relaxed yet alert posture that will show that you are confident and professional.
Example Japanese Jikoshokai To Learn From
Example Jikoshokai For Newly-Graduated Students
本日は貴重なお時間をいただき、ありがとうございます。 ○○大学○○学部4年の△△と申します。 大学時代は、フットサルサークルの活動に力を入れました。サークルでは代表を務め、日々の練習・試合の運営から、新入生の勧誘など、幅広い活動に取り組みました。大人数の組織をまとめ上げる経験にやりがいを感じてきたので、そういった長所を活かせる仕事を志しています。 本日は宜しくお願いします。 Thank you for taking up your valuable time to interview me today. My name is △△ and I am a 4th-year undergraduate student at ○○ University. As a student, I put a lot of energy into the futsal club that I was a part of. I worked as the president of the club, leading activities like daily training, organizing matches, and recruiting new members. The experience of organizing a large group made me realize I would like to pursue a job where I could put those same skills to use. Thank you again for your time today.
本日は貴重なお時間をいただき、ありがとうございます。 ○○大学○○学部4年の△△と申します。 私は大学時代、どこの企業でも活躍できる力をつけたいと思い、ベンチャー企業での営業インターンに取り組んでいました。インターンとして学んだ営業の力や、学生リーダーとしてチームを率いた経験を活かし、御社で活躍したいと思っています。 本日は宜しくお願いします。 Thank you for taking up your valuable time to interview me today. My name is △△ and I am a 4th year undergraduate student at ○○ University. As a university student, I wanted to develop skills that would be useful at any type of company, so I worked as a sales intern at a start-up company. I hope that the sales skills I gained from my internship and the team leadership experience I gained as a student will help me to make contributions to the development of the company in the future. Thank you again for your time today.
Example Jikoshokai For People With Professional Work Experience
本日は貴重なお時間をいただき、ありがとうございます。 ○○と申します。○○大学を卒業後、△△システム開発会社でウェブシステム開発を4年間担当していて、金融系のシステム開発をしていました。人員増員の顧客への提案と実績が認められ、小集団をまとめるリーダーになりました。リーダーの仕事は設計書、コーディングのレビュー 進捗管理などです。私は以前より組み込み系開発に興味を持っていました。このたび御社が組み込み系開発のリーダー職を募集されているのを知り、応募させてもらいました。リーダーの経験は１年間でありますが、これまでの開発経験を活かし、利益を上げるために働きたいと考えています。 どうぞよろしくお願い致します。 Thank you for taking up your valuable time to interview me today. My name is ○○. After graduating from ○○ university, I worked for 4 years at a systems development company called △△ doing systems development for a finance system. I was recognized for my achievements in increasing the number of clients, and was promoted to be the leader of a small group. My duties as a team leader mainly included creating design specifications, doing code review, and managing the team's progress. I have always had an interest in embedded programming, so when I heard that your company was recruiting for an embedded programming team lead, I immediately applied. Although I only have 1 year of experience as a team leader, I believe I can use my skills to work hard and create increased revenue for the company. Thank you again for your time today.
Practice Makes Perfect!
This article has introduced some tips to make your Japanese self-introduction better. However, just reading about it isn’t enough. Make sure to practice many times, including before each interview so that you don’t ever have to worry about forgetting what you’re going to say. In the end, the most important thing is to show your sincerity to the interviewers and to try to make a connection if you can. Good luck, and happy job hunting!
Title photo credit: PIXTA
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you’d really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook!
By the way, if you're looking for a job or career change and you're already in Japan, we now have a jobs site called tsunagu Local Jobs! On top of having exclusive job listings that you won't find anywhere else, we've vetted all the listings to ensure that they're foreigner-friendly and high quality. If you register for an account on the site, you can even make use of our agent service where our international staff will help you find the perfect job in Japan, so check it out today!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.