Interview guide

Interviewing in English. A successful interview depends on numerous factors, including thorough preparation, practice, and in-depth research. Here are some essential points to consider when preparing for your interview.

Culture

Differences in culture must be considered when preparing for your interview. Your answers in English should not be a direct translation of the answers that you would give in Japanese. Your non-Japanese interviewer will not be impressed by accomplishments in a team environment or by your humble attitude. Be prepared to express yourself confidently, and politely, as an independent-minded and self-motivated individual. The interviewer will want to know about your personal accomplishments and how you would be able to contribute to their company.

Understanding the question

The goal of any interview, and the purpose of each question, is to determine whether you would be an asset to the company or not. If you can demonstrate that you are a potential asset, then you will be invited to the next interview round.

Q: Why do you want to leave your current position?

In answering, be candid and honest, but at the same time, be as positive as possible. A complainer will be seen as a potential risk to the company. Demonstrate your strengths.

Find the ‘Balance’

Do not speak either too fast or too slow, too loud or too soft. You should be enthusiastic about this opportunity but not wild. Do not be overly emotional, but do not be cold and expressionless either. You will need to make a respectful and personal connection with the interviewer through conversation. This is much more important than demonstrating perfect understanding of English grammar.

You are the solution

Companies do not interview for fun. Finding a specialist for a particular position can be a very difficult and tedious process, possibly with a deadline that has already passed. They are looking for a solution and you must present yourself as that solution.

Q: What are your hobbies?

Remember the purpose of the question. No interviewer wants a long-winded explanation of your hobby and why you are passionate about it. They are assessing your work/life balance, how imaginative, creative, social or active you are. Your answer will help them determine how well you might fit with their corporate culture or not.

Because the interviewer connects this question to the job, so should you. Your hobby might help you develop skills or characteristics that enhance your employability, or may provide a necessary balance in your life. Either way, your answer must relate to why you are the solution the company needs.

Career goals

Closely study the company’s structure, history, culture, leadership and market position.

Q: What are your career goals?

Here, you should connect your aspirations firmly to the role under discussion and your potential contribution to the company. The interviewer will be sold on your strengths, rather than your dreams. Again, the purpose of the question is to determine whether or not you are the best candidate for the position.

Q: What are your weaknesses?

Use this question to exhibit self-awareness and strength of character. Be honest about genuine shortcomings, but in such a way that they are not seen as lessening your value to the company. This is an opportunity to show how you turn adversity to advantage and always strive for improvement.

Q: Why do you want this position?

This is a very important question. Be specific. Be consistent with everything you have said previously and connect the answer directly to the position and why you would enjoy and value the challenge of excelling at this particular job.

Any questions?

Towards the end of the interview is the seemingly harmless “Do you have any questions?” Don’t relax yet. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate a genuine interest in the position and the company. Ask your prepared questions as well as questions that relate directly to the topics discussed in that interview.
Q: Why has this position become available?
Q: What goals would I have to attain in first three months and six months?
Q: How is the role likely to evolve over time?
Q: What are the company’s goals for the coming year and the coming five years?
Q: Can you tell me more about the specifics of the role?
Q: The job description mentions “a”, “c”, and “d”. Would I also be responsible for “b”?

Practice, practice, practice

When preparing for an interview, nothing beats practice, but beware of sounding rehearsed. Therefore, use bullet points, not fully written sentences, to guide you during practice rounds.

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