At the start of each year, we all like to set ourselves goals. For me, I guess that goal could be loosely articulated as “shake off the malaise.” A large part of this involved accepting that my job and other aspects of my life in Osaka were not as satisfying for me as I hoped they would be. The job paid well enough, but the contract wasn’t that great.
Then things changed. At a certain point, something became abundantly clear: To get a better job than my last one, I would need to speak Japanese. Not only this, I would also need to prove my ability by interviewing in Japanese.
Friends, previous partners and work colleagues have often joked that I have “izakaya Japanese.” In other words, I have the ability to make casual conversation down the pub and navigate most day-to-day situations, but I don’t think I’ve quite reached the level where I can communicate effectively in a business situation or a formal gathering.
I was going to have to learn fast or find as many shortcuts to mask my lack of formal Japanese ability as possible.
As it transpired, after about two months of sending applications and filtering out the usual time wasters and labor law violators, I managed to line up final interviews with three jobs I was interested in. Much to my initial disdain, they all wanted to interview me in Japanese.
Of these three positions, two of them ended up offering me the contract — and prior to this spring, I had never attempted a job interview in Japanese before.
I’d like to share some of my experience with this process. So here are five tips for navigating a job interview in Japanese.
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