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Companies angry over thoughtless students amid economic downturn

66 Comments

As the global economic downturn hammers Japan, Japanese companies have cut back on their hiring of new graduates. Some have retracted job offers and have come under heavy media criticism for it. However, it is actually those in charge of hiring at some companies who are really angry.

“The current job situation is shifting from a seller's market to a buyer's market, and students are aware of this," said a human resource (HR) worker for a major electric appliance manufacture. “You hear a lot about a few companies which retracted job offers, but in the last hiring season, only half of the 200 students to whom we gave job offers, finally decided to work with us. The rest changed their mind.”

In the past few years, college students have enjoyed the so-called “seller's market” where it was relatively easily for them to get job offers due to the massive retirement of the baby boom generation. The situation, however, has changed and companies are carefully hiring students amid the current economic downturn.

One HR person for a trading company said students these days lack common sense. “Just after we made a job offer to a graduate, he replied to us by email via his mobile phone, saying, ' I didn't know I would have to work abroad for a few years at your company. I'm actually not good at English. So I'll have to decline your job offer.' His email message ended with an emoticon showing a character bowing."

Another HR person for an apparel company said some students are arrogant during job interviews. “During an interview, a female student asked the interviewers: 'Is your company really a fun place to work at? Tell me what staff do for fun.'”

Meanwhile, a worker for the HR department at a food company complained: “A male student arrogantly said to us, 'How can you understand what I'm really like after a 15-minute interview?'”

Why do some students behave like that? HR consultant Takanori Fujikawa said students don't take communication seriously due to the Internet. “Since 2000, the Internet has become the standard communication tool for students and companies. The situation, however, has made students take the way they communicate with companies less seriously. In the past two years, the number of students who declined job offer has increased by 20%.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

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66 Comments
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Six. Two threes. Half a dozen.

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Yep, students should put all their eggs in one basket and apply to one company only. eye roll

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Companies are angry?!?!?

Work in Japan is like lifetime slavery. Long hours, no overtime pay, negative consequences for taking time off and companies show very little compassion or care for workers.

They work you to death and then cut you off as soon as they have a problem. And expect us to be happy about all of it.

Well companies. NO MORE! I'm happy to see young ones asking questions that they want to ask. Imprudent or not, they are starting to challenge things a bit after seeing their parents work themselves to death.

Now we need to start making ocmpanies more accountable to society instead of the other way around!

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His email message ended with an emoticon showing a character bowing.”

I'm confused. What's the proper emoticon?

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lost in the article is the individuals right to chose. apparently, HR departments have begun to greedily lick their chops and feverishly rub their hands together but, the reality is ... people still have hopes and dreams. and they will not be enslaved so easily.

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Companies angry over thoughtless students amid economic downturn

Students are under no obligation to take work. Companies have no reason to be angry. You take what you can get. Skim the bottom dross and take whatever's left. Ditto for the students.

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good to see more Japanese people having the guts to be different and asking 'real' questions during interviews, instead of conforming with the masses.

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tkoind2, Then you need to change companies or I must simply be one of the lucky ones working for a Japanese company here in Nagano.

Work in Japan is like lifetime slavery. Long hours, no overtime pay, negative consequences for taking time off and companies show very little compassion or care for workers.

My company operates on a standard week of 39 hours with no requirement or pressure for compulsory overtime. If overtime is worked, it is paid at standard overtime rates up to the level of section manager, above that you are salaried with a "position allowance" and an expectation of "reasonable overtime" which is up to a maximum of 45 hours per month as stipulated in the labor regulations.

Staff here take holidays more or less at their convenience and even the Japanese workers may take a week off, and on occasion even two weeks.

A couple of years ago, my colleague was diagnosed early with leukaemia due to the excellent annual 人間ドック system (free of charge full medical once per year, paid for by the company). Took six months off for chemo / radio therapy and came back to work for a short stint. Then was told he required a bone marrow transplant, took another 18 months off work. Our standard company regs state a maximum of 360 days sick leave with guaranteed job return, but as this was the first case they encountered exceeding the normal regs, they changed the entire company rule book just so he could return later without stress. They gave him a new job working as a section manager in a stress free office (was previously in sales)

They work you to death and then cut you off as soon as they have a problem. And expect us to be happy about all of it.

Read the above and in addition, when my Mother in the UK was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a couple of years ago she went downhill quick. My company provided air tickets to the UK for me and my family with compassionate leave so I could nurse her through her last 6 weeks of life and attend her funeral. And there was a generous wad of condolence money waiting for me on my return, mostly from the company itself.

I'm pretty much committed to this company for life, but only because they earned my gratitude and respect.

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You reap what you sow

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The problem is the first half of the article is kind of on a tangent, it's only the second half where actual examples of arrogance are listed. Declining a job offer is not arrogance, whereas asking arrogant questions as alleged is. That said, you're always going to find dumb applicants and your job is to weed them out not complain about them. Nobody's forcing you to hire arrogant people, and if most of them are that way well too bad for them.

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Archiebald, you found a nice company! I will move to Nagano-ken soon, I wish I could find the same ...

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Poor companies, my heart bleeds for them. Wonder if they cut back on executive salaries or bonuses?

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how many hundreds of thousands of interviews are there every year? And they can only come up with a couple of examples? Wow, you made an offer, and it was declined. Get used to it corporate Japan.

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Since companies have such a great selection, they shouldn't be too concerned over what they consider undesirable applicants.

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students these days lack common sense

It's a start, now they just have to include 95% of the Japanese adult population and they can begin to work toward finding a solution...

You can't begin recovery, until you first admit you have a problem, and Japan has a huge lack of "Common Sense" problem...

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I for one am glad to read this report that Japanese students are standing up to these dictatorial companies, who are just slave-drivers. As for the student who "arrogantly" asked the interviewers how they could possibly know him after a 15 minute interview - he was dead right! Good for him! maybe there is hope for this country after all.

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"Arrogance" and "pride" are words that often get confused with "individualism" and "confidence" in Japan.

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typical of young people. Wait till they end up on the streets

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I think the "arrogance" of the student who questioned how they know him after a 15 minute interview was spot on. A dumb thing to say in an interview but correct just the same.

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The refusal to reproduce is the Japanese working class revenge on Japan's loathsome companies whose collective philosophy is: Use 'em, abuse 'em and lose 'em. It has been a sellers market until the recession hit. If students are really as immature and mindless as the buyers think they have only the LDP-controlled educational system to blame. That system wanted pliant wage slaves and consumer addicts rather than the activists of the 1960s. The day will come when these kids will realize the power gained by organizing unions with teeth.

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Realist: sorry I should have read your comment first as I just posted the same thing.

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maybe the companies need to change and adjust to the average kid these days m( )m

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@cwhite,

agreed, more like the companies don't know how to answer, or are getting questions where before they never did. That's not arrogance, that openness. Asking if a workplace is fun isn't a bad question. Likely the answer is no though and the interviewer had no idea how to respond.

if this keeps up only the winning companies will get graduates and the losing ones will not. That's good in a bad economy, weed out those who are not liked anymore.

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Them questions them kids asked was normal, what's arogant about that.

These Japanese companise need to get their heads out of their own backside and sort out the recession.

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I think young people have seen or heard about foreign companies where we don't die to work (having a word in the dictonnary for "death from hard work" is kind of a bad indicator to me) and think they should get the same. The problem is that they change their behavior and poor salarimen who has to interview them don't find how to answer to that in their manual ... so they criticize, the manual cannot possibly wrong!

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I always asked the same questions as the "arrogant" student. If I am rejected because of asking if the company is a fun place to work, I DON'T WANT TO WORK in that sh*t hole anyway. The companies are VERY arrogant with this kind of attitude, and will only make my life a living hell.

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Dumb employers, dumb prospective employees. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

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Japan students now is in era of comfort, this totally weakens their spirits, its sad to say majority of them become dumb, lazy and stupid due to years of pampering from their beloved family..sad..

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How can you understand what I’m really like after a 15-minute interview?

the problem is that companies can't fire them once they hire them, so they are stuck with making an evaluation based on a resume and a 15 minute interview.

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as pointed out Jpn Inc is beginning to reap what its sowing!

Arch, it sounds like you have found that MYTHICAL J-company, good on you, but for the very vast majority they myth & reality just dont come close, I have seen many older workers who up & died or retired who were forgotten in the blink of an eye, seen staff bitch & complain when others take holidays, the venom really comes out if the offender has the nerve to attach holidays to long weekends or GW or or Oshogatsu.

For the most part it aint pretty & I have often said that the homeless(not recent variety) here probably enjoy their freedom & have more fulfilling lives than yr average Tanaka.

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these kids today, wasn"t like that in my day. used to be all fields round here

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If you don't like an interviewee's response DON'T HIRE THEM. Don't whine and moan about how you didn't like their attitude or whatever. On the other hand, if so many interviewees have this "bad attitude" that you have to hire some of them, maybe, just maybe, society is changing and it's your inability to adapt that is the problem. This to me typifies one of the main problems of Japan today, people seem reluctant to deal with actual problems other than to insist "this is not the way it is supposed to be."

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Archiebald -- Please let all of us know when your company is hiring. Any country. (Bowing emoticon respectfully deleted.)

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It feels like they want the prospective students to be in awe of just getting the interview. "Oh thank you mighty company for even considering my lazy butt for this job." When I see nothing wrong with asking if a company is a fun place to work either. My Japanese friend worked his first year for a cosmetic company, whose overtime expectation was unbelieveable, no pay for it either. In his words, "I felt like my life was two people, one who couldn't believe this company and the other who was too tired to think. Everybody was acting like it was normal, I felt like alien." Had he known this company was like this he wouldn't have wasted his and their time, he would have looked for another company. Which he did after he finished his one year contract. Working aboard isn't for everyone either, but I am sorry for these companies, with that attitude it won't be long until nobody wants to work for them. Nobody wants to be treated like fodder for too long without signs that it will get better, with no lifetime gurantee employment.

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hooowha?? The companies are angry?

In the past two years, the number of students who declined job offer has increased by 20%...

...while unemployment skyrockets? Hmmmm. Maybe Japanese workers are tired of being shafted. No thank you karoshi companies! This must really make the big monolithic J companies scratch their collective heads.

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yes, yes, as some posters mentioned above - companies DO have to change a little. i cant imagine working for a company for 70-80 hours a week and think it is fun to do that. i dont feel the students have a bad attitude at all. they are honest and straight forward. what`s wrong with that? oh, i forgot, this is japan and the company is your life.

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The fact that many people here sign up and don'T have a clue about salary, benefits... I think they SHOULD be asking these questions. Companies here expect people to give up their lives for them and yet now offer to benefits and lifelong employment... Time to change the way folks think...

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Please come and work for my company, of course we always have fun, and it doesn't matter if you come in late or leave early either, of course there are always nice chocolates in the pantry that you can help yourself too. Oops, excuse me for a moment I was going to tell you more but have just been told there's a bailiff at the door who is changing the locks, guess we didn't make the rent this month, just let me grab a few of the chocolates on my way out.

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If you are the president of the company and ask what your employees do for fun, your subordinates will say you are a visionary. If you are 22 and are thinking about entering the same company,you are arrogant if you ask that. The problem is not what they are asking, but that they are asking. Newly graduates are considered by companies as retarded.

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Newly graduates are considered by companies as retarded.

That's it in a nutshell. The companies want new hires to act like retarded children but actually be intelligent. No wonder it's so hard to screen them.

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wow, it sounds like it's the HR people in the companies who are arrogant, not the students!

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It's my understanding that the reason former high school baseball team members are such popular recruits for companies is that they're used to being yelled at and doing what they're told.

Presumably, the recruits in this story were made of different stuff.

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Meanwhile, a worker for the HR department at a food company complained: “A male student arrogantly said to us, ‘How can you understand what I’m really like after a 15-minute interview?’”

Stupid of him to ask.. but how CAN they tell from a 15 minute interview? once, I had to intentionally tank an interview with a Japanese company, when the genius started asking questions off of a clipboard and couldn't understand when my answers weren't on his list of things to expect.

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The problem is that many new (and old) companies have shifted down thier slavery -family -lifestyle killing work styles. Now the problem with future generations will be that they can't see the difference between a prospect enviroment and an evil one.

The peeps who shift complete insane overtime in japan are at fault them selves . There are enough other workplaces with different working conditions . .and knowing the fact that most labor workers in japan work long houres , they would be entitles after 3 years only to use their knowledge (they should have by then, do to the insane overtime drill) and make their own business . . . far more easy to do then anywhere in europe.

But that is a question of having guts and managing your budget for a professional goal in life.

The oversea-job exemple in the article is typical evil from the employers side. The employer thinks the guy has no other life obligation then working for the company. If that company would be professional they would state in the recruitement adverts that they need peeps "willing" to work oversea and scrap their meanwhile life. That's called natural respect of other peeps choices.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The companies want new hires to act like retarded children but actually be intelligent. No wonder it's so hard to screen them.

Correct.

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telecasterplayer at 09:27 AM JST - 21st January

Meanwhile, a worker for the HR department at a food company complained: “A male student arrogantly said to us, ‘How can you >>understand what I’m really like after a 15-minute interview?’”

Stupid of him to ask..

I wouldn't ask neither in a normal interview. But sometimes you can't refrain yourself ... For example, my girlfriend (japanese) went to an interview where 3 HR people were interviewing her. The 2 guys were asking basics questions while the woman was asking questions that noone would answer correctly or where no correct answers existed. My girlfriend was trying her best to reply but as she didn't have the "right" answers, the woman complained about her attitude, her style, her look, how students nowadays are stupid, "how could she expect to be hired?!" etc ... my girlfriend left not too depressed as she had decided not to work there anyway when she saw the girl candidate before her leaving the room crying ... In that kind of situation, would a foreigner not reply to them? I would have for sure and would too tell that woman that she cannot know me in 15 minutes.

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Also, that reminds me of an aquaintance's friend's story. That made me wonder if japanese companies were in their right state of mind ... That girl was offered a job by a company. She asked some time to think about it. Her hidden purpose was to wait for another company she preferred and was interviewd by recently. It happened the second company proposed a job that she accepted right away. She needed to notify the first company that she would refused the job and went to their office, to show her respect and thank them. She went and met the OB who introduced her to the company and the 3 interviewers she had met. They were so mad about the news they shouted at her and practically forced her to bow and apologize for all the trouble she had caused to them! She had to knee down like when one needs to beg in front of each of the guys and ask for forgiveness ... She was shocked and so was I when I heard about that.

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kurisutofu -

After that, I'm sure she was glad and relieved she had chosen the other company.

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Sounds like their interview selection process is crappy. No reason for them to upset will 'all' students.

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Stupid of him to ask.. but how CAN they tell from a 15 minute interview?

They just need to understand enough to know whether to cut him from the next round. Looks like it worked.

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The problem is one of lack of education. Schools in general (whether in Japan or the US), don't focus on what it takes to get hired. Interviewing skills are never taught to students, so as such, they only bring with them a repertoire of communication assets more appropriate to blogs and forums. When they first walk into a suit and tie environ, they're quite literally a fish out of water. This readily recalls the post tech bubble burst in the US, where thousands of computer whiz kids (who had previously been hired right out of school into high pay tech jobs) suddenly lost their employment and had to actually go looking for a new job. Interviewers wrote about how ridiculously unprepared some were (one showed up late, wearing shorts and flip-flops, holding a cup of coffee) but had expected to get hired right away. Granted, there are poor interviewers, but by and large, it's the job applicants' responsibility to show that they have something to offer; why else should a complete stranger agree to give you money? Frankly, had I been the interviewer asked the question "what do your employee's do for fun?" I would have ended the interview right there and shown the woman the door.

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how CAN they tell from a 15 minute interview?

If they were looking for inner beauty, they'd have brought the colonoscope. But they save that for round two.

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THE TEACHER; yes you can go late at home at any time we are not against this, the estudents: may we see our children only in the weekend,because working 15 and 16 hours per day,there´s no time to see the family?

THE TEACHER: yes,only in the weekend,that was a good idea, let me write it down in a note for the future..

The students: we are happy about you said.Arigato Teacher..

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The companies want new hires to act like retarded children but actually be intelligent. No wonder it's so hard to screen them.

Exactly.

I've appeared in many job interviews and those guys want you to answer all questios in standard japanese ways; shout on top of your voice even when the interviewer is right in front of you. It really sucks if you are a foreigner. You are not expected to ask questions related to the working conditions. If I want fun why not ask if I can enjoy myself while working?

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Graduates or even non-graduates have a choice now. They can work a "baito" and get paid hourly, low pressure, and work flexible hours, and still make $20,000-$30,000 a year easily. They can still take time off, vacation, etc etc.

or, they can work 70-90 hours a week, with no free time, plenty of unpaid overtime, no sick leave, extreme pressure from, peers, no vacation, no perks, and they can get fired anytime anyway.

I would pick the first option. no need for employers to take things so personally. They need to provide a more flexible work environment.

already the part time workforce is more than 30%. If things dont change this percentage will keep increasing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She had to knee down like when one needs to beg in front of each of the guys and ask for forgiveness ...

NO she didn't. She could have told them to screw off and walk out. No one forced her to stay there and do that except herself. And it is BECAUSE she did such a thing that they will continue to do it in the future to others.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

this is encouraging news that the culture of wage slavery might be slowing. hopefully population decline will force employers to actually offer something to their employees rather than expecting a steady stream of drones who will put up and shut up

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Education in Japan is not designed to let children think. I often call University students children. Never would do this overseas, but all to often do I see children at the station. Perhaps their mothers and fathers will go back to their schools and complain that they didn't raise their children good enough. As that is the job of teachers in Japan to raise their children.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i have been in interviews with japanese companies and the athmosphere was pleasant. Its just that there was a double standard of me having to know more Japanese than even my Japanese peers.

They would expect me to read the Nikkei shimbun, when the average college graduate in Japan cannot even read the Shukan Post.

i do agree with Tmarie on that anecdote. makes no sense to bow down to those idiots. good she didnt work there.

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She had to knee down like when one needs to beg in front of each of the >>>>guys and ask for forgiveness ...

NO she didn't. She could have told them to screw off and walk out. No one >>forced her to stay there and do that except herself. And it is BECAUSE >>she did such a thing that they will continue to do it in the future to others.

Well, it seems the guy had his hand on her shoulder to "help her" bow ... Off course she should have left without doing that but well ... she's a japanese girl ^_^; (no offense, if one reads that)

Hearing that story made me think of a yakuza movie ... and off course, I don't know what is exagerated, I just report it as I heard it, don't know more details.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She could have left and gone to the police. However that would have taken time and effort so... take the easy way out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, it seems the guy had his hand on her shoulder to "help her" bow ...

Well she could have made a great move and finished him with a Ippon !

Seriously I wonder how those recruiters would manage with european students. I heard so many incredible interview stories here ^^ Those two exemples just looks like common things... J companies, it's (really) time to change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another HR person for an apparel company said some students are arrogant during job interviews. “During an interview, a female student asked the interviewers: ‘Is your company really a fun place to work at? Tell me what staff do for fun.’”

Here's a memo for the young lady: Sure it is nice to work in an environment that is relaxing and nice to spend 8-10 hours a day; but I have learned that when it comes to fun, that is something that I do at home and with people that I do not work with. Build relationships that are pleasant at work, but keep your private and "fun stuff" out of the office. That way she will not have to worry about her business being office gossip.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"What does our staff do for fun"? Does not compute! Please re-submit the question...

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"Arrogance" and "pride" are words that often get confused with "individualism" and "confidence" in Japan.

Well observed.

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Before I came to Japan, I studied japanese a little in a school and the teacher "trained" us to take interviews in Japan. She told us to never use "I" or even things like "My tasks were ...". She said we should focus on what the companies we worked for taught us and why we were grateful we had the opportunity to be employed there ... At that time, I thought she only had a bad experience in her country ...

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