Japanese Job Interviews: The Most Frequently Asked Questions and How to Answer Them

If you’ve made it to the interview stage in Japan, it’s vital to know what kind of questions will be asked and how to answer them. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most commonly asked questions in Japan with examples of how to nail the answers. Adjust them to match the specifics of your desired company and start laying down the groundwork for a successful interview in Japan!

The Flow of a Japanese Job Interview

Many Japanese companies will conduct their interviews in the following manner. For each question, prepare your own answers by using the examples provided.

Question 1: Self-introduction
Question 2: Why are you changing jobs?
Question 3: Your motivation for applying 
Question 4: Previous relevant experience, achievements, and skills
Question 5: Your time to ask questions

In addition to these, you’ll likely be asked about your reasons for coming to Japan and your Japanese language skills, so prepare answers to these, too!

[Introducing Yourself]

Q1. Would you please introduce yourself briefly?
A1. My name is ____. I am 25 years old, was born in Korea, and graduated from _____ University. I worked as a system engineer for a company that designed websites for two years in Korea and three years in Japan. I have worked as a manager for two years looking after the operations of staff, and was recognized by my superiors as being honest and steadfast and rarely making mistakes. I applied for a position at your company to use my previous experiences to work with quality management systems. Thank you for giving me your time.

Hint: Flaunt your strengths in your answer. Within one minute, concisely state your name, age, nationality, educational background, career history, personality, and strong points. When it comes to self-promotion, the main aspects to concentrate on are demonstrating your qualities (personality) and skills, along with the kind of situations they were demonstrated in.

Q2. Please tell me why you came to Japan.
A2. Ever since I was young, I had Japanese games and television shows around me. This made me want to visit Japan someday, so I started studying Japanese at university. Working as a system engineer, I thought it would be easy to find a job in Japan, so I decided to finally come and try it out.

Q3. Please describe your strengths and weaknesses.
A3. My strength would be my diligence while my weakness is overthinking. At my previous workplace, I always respected appointments and performed numerous checks to prevent mistakes. While overthinking is my weakness, I always made sure to move ahead with work ahead of time to ensure I would be able to hand things in on time.

Hint: Tell the interviewer what you’re doing to improve your weakness. In addition, try to rephrase your weakness to make it a strength. Avoid answers that can only be taken negatively, like “I don’t work well with others” or “I have trouble keeping on schedule.” 

[Your Reasons for Changing Jobs]

Q4. Why do you wish to change your job? (Why did you quit all your previous jobs?)
A4. I was a subcontractor at my previous workplace, so I would carry out my work as per the parent company’s instructions. However, your company communicates with customers directly to decide the system specifics, allowing you to directly see and understand the customer’s response. I think this is fantastic, and is one of the main reasons I decided to change jobs. (System Engineer)

Hint: Interviewers will want to ensure that the candidate won’t quit again if the same reason arises. While you don’t have to completely gloss over your reasons, negative phrases should be avoided in favor of positive answers, like wanting to improve your skills or challenge yourself to something new. 

[Your Motivation for Applying]

Q5. Why did you apply to work at our company?
A5. Many tell me that I’m good with my hands, and I love having time to concentrate on working, which is why I’ve worked in manufacturing for 5 years. Your company deals with products from top-level manufacturers along with rotating workers through different departments, allowing everyone to experience numerous kinds of work. At my previous company, I was involved in staff and production management, skills I wish to use at your company while also gaining lots of other work experience to improve my overall skill. With this in mind, I decided to apply for a position at your company. (Manufacturing)

Hint: Aim to convey your passion and ability to utilize previous experiences and skills in your answer. Try to also throw in specific characteristics of the company you’re applying for. If you have an overly general reason for applying that can be used anywhere, it will appear like you are applying for loads of jobs at once and carelessly using blanket statements for all of them. Make sure your answers and resume are tailored towards the specific company!

Q6. Generally speaking, what kind of work would you like to do in our company?
A6. After entering, I would like to learn your company’s distinctive way of handling customers with care and thoughtfulness, after which I wish to work with customers to ensure that they are receiving exemplary service. I would also like to use my native language of Chinese to help international customers visiting Japan. Many are unable to grasp what kind of food is served through the menu alone, so I wish to use similar examples of Chinese dishes to help them understand. (Restaurant, Customer Service)

Hint: Showcase the ways in which you can utilize your skills and experiences.

[Experience, Achievements, and Skills]

Q7. What kind of experiences and skills do you want to gain at our company?
A7. I believe many of your company’s customers are men who work at the office, so I want to learn more about how to gauge the daily life of customers, like where they go or what kind of image they want to project at work, and be able to make relevant suggestions. Your company also develops innovative products like special suits for working remotely, so I want to learn more about how to make proposals to customers that match their working style. (Apparel, Customer Service)

Hint: Put in lots of points unique to that particular company.

Q8. Where do you see yourself in 3 and 5 years?
A8. I’m aiming to become a project manager in the future. In order to achieve this, I’m first learning everything I need to know about system development as a system engineer, with the aim of being able to accurately meet customer requirements in 3 years time. Within 5 years I want to become a project leader able to manage team progress and more, so I also wish to acquire management skills. (System Engineer)

Hint: This question is asked to determine how long the applicant plans to work at the company, so make sure to convey a general vision of your future that can be achieved within the company. This will demonstrate your ambition while showing that you plan to work there a long time.

Q9. What were the goals given by your previous company?
A9. My previous company set monthly customer targets, such as a monthly sales goal of 80 customers and whatnot. Each day of my five-day working week had a general goal decided in advance, such as speaking to 10 customers a day with the goal of selling to four. (Apparel, Customer Service)

Q10. How many members did you work with in your previous company? What was your role? 
A10. I have experience working as a team leader in a small-scale project team of about 3 members. I was directly involved in numerous facets, from designing to programming while communicating with my team and managing the project schedule. (System Engineer)

Q11. Within your personal career, please describe where you feel you have grown the most.
A11. Working at a PC software call center, we had numerous inquiries everyday, often leading to complaints from customers that they couldn’t get through to us over the phone. To combat this, we gathered information about the most common inquiries and posted them on our website, leading to our call connection rate increasing by 30%. Through this experience, I understood the importance of not only doing our work but also seeking to constantly improve it. (Call center, Customer Service)

Q12. Tell me about your greatest accomplishment and what you had to do in order to achieve it.
A12. In the past, we had an incident involving a customer who cut off doing business with us for three years. However, I managed to get them back and resume business by steadily mending our relationship by sending them proposals on new products once a week, and so on. In addition, to ensure that there were no misunderstandings regarding delivery times, after each briefing session I immediately sent them an email summarizing all the details of the day. After that, our business together successfully continued. (Sales)

Q13. Tell me about a time when you experienced trouble in your work. How did you overcome it?
A13. When I was transferred to another position, the handover of my work to a colleague didn’t go smoothly, resulting in a customer that I was in charge of leaving us. The issue was that the preferences of the other party and their company were not properly conveyed to the new person in charge. To counter this, I created data, collecting all the personalities and points to be cautious about with every person in charge at each company to hand to the next person who would be dealing with them. (Sales)

Q14. What are you not good at?
A14. By nature, I’m not good at public speaking in front of large audiences. I get extremely nervous, leading me to prepare and practice over and over again in advance. 

Hint: Even when describing something you’re not good at, leave a good impression by describing how you accounted for your weak point through hard work and ingenuity. Use as much positive language as possible and ensure your statements have a forward-thinking tone.

[Work Conditions]

Q15. Do you have any preference about work location?
A15. I would like to work in the Greater Tokyo Area. However, I understand that your company has expanded to 6 locations nationwide, and if I were to be transferred between them, I believe I would be happy to accept that.

Q16. How much is your desired annual salary?
Q16. My previous workplace offered an annual salary of ____ yen, so, while I would like to request an increase from that, I am happy to follow your company’s stipulations.

Hint about Q15/Q16: While there is no need to lie, don’t ask for conditions that are too idealistic. Also, stating your refusal to transfer during the interview will also drastically reduce your chances of success, so if you do not wish to transfer, make sure to confirm this during the initial offer.

Q17. Can you work overtime?
Q17. Yes, at my current work I do roughly 40 hours of overtime a month. During busy periods, I expect that there will be an increase in overtime work. However, I would also like to reevaluate work flow and priorities so that we can finish our work efficiently without overtime. 

Q18. Please describe what is important to you when choosing a company
A18. What’s important to me is whether or not the store manager is afforded the discretion to make their own choices in regards to the store. At my previous workplace, I worked as a store manager and was involved in sales, inventory, staff management, along with developing original menus and launching new projects, which led to an increase in customers. As your company is currently opening a lot of new outlets, I hope to use my previous experiences to contribute to your success! (Restaurant, Customer Service)

[Japanese and Other Language Abilities]

Q19. How is your Japanese language ability?
A19. I am certified N2 in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT). While my previous work in the manufacturing industry was my first job in Japan, I bought a vocabulary book of words often used in manufacturing and practiced hard. During breaks, I proactively started conversations with my coworkers, and after one year I could not only hold daily conversations, but had extensive knowledge of the specialized vocabulary used in the industry. (Manufacturing)

Hint: If you’ve taken the JLPT, don’t forget to mention your level, along with how good your speaking, reading, and writing abilities are. If you’ve ever conducted business with coworkers or customers in Japanese, make sure you detail how you are able to use Japanese in a business setting.

Q20. Are there any other languages you know?
A20. My native language is Korean, and I went to university and worked for an IT company in Korea, so I can use Korean in a business setting. I also studied English in university, and have a TOEIC score of ___.

[Questions for the Interviewer]

Q21. Do you have any questions about this company or the job? 
A21. On your website, it says you have an “education system” in place. I was wondering, what kind of education system is this?

Hint: Asking questions about information on the company’s website or job posting, along with the kind of work you might do if you joined, gives the interviewer a good impression showing that you possess a genuine interest in their company and that you’re earnestly checking to see if it’s the right fit. Make sure you prepare some questions using the company’s materials in advance.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Of course, while this guide will be extremely helpful, the actual answers to these questions will change depending upon variants like the type of work and your age. Match the questions posed in this article with the industry and company to prepare your answers and aim towards success in Japan!

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.

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