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Kumamoto prefectural labor department issues list of inappropriate job interview questions

8 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Japanese society is world-famous for valuing for harmony within groups, but what aren’t quite as well-known are Japanese companies’ penchant for on-the-job-training and flexible definitions of work responsibilities. Combined, these elements mean that even more so than in other countries, hiring managers in Japan are acutely concerned with whether or not a job applicant is going to mesh well with the existing office atmosphere, and so the topic of conversation in job interviews can often meander away from professional skills and experience.

However, Kumamoto Prefecture’s Department of Labor has let it be known that it wants companies in its jurisdiction to start reining in what it believes are inappropriate questions to ask during a job interview. The governmental body has put out a statement indicating broad topics it feels employers have no business asking about, such as the applicant’s family, housing situation, religion, and political philosophies, as well as a list of example questions that it says interviewers should not ask:

● Where were you born?

● What kind of work do your parents do?

● Are you an only child?

● What kind of car do you drive?

● Are you Buddhist?

● What political party is closest to your way of thinking?

● Do you want to get married one day?

● Which historical figure do you like?

● What do you think of Marxism?

● Are you a member of any groups or organizations?

● Which newspaper do you read?

Some of these, such as directly questioning someone about their political or religious beliefs, seem like obvious attempts to blacklist members of certain demographics. The question about marriage, meanwhile, no doubt was included in the list since speculation that a currently single woman will quit her job after getting married has long been cited as a barrier female candidates face in securing employment.

Some of the other questions, though, such as asking what kind of car a person drives or which historical figures they’re a fan of, are the sort of things that could conceivably come up in everyday, polite conversation (especially considering young Japanese people’s recent booming interest in samurai-period history). However, Kumamoto’s Department of Labor asserts that the answers to such questions may be used to form an image of applicants’ social status or ideology which are unrelated to their ability to meet the job’s performance requirements, and thus unfairly impact their chances of getting hired.

Though it classifies the above questions as inappropriate, the Department of Labor does acknowledge that they might not be being asked with malicious intent, but merely as things that spring up in the interviewer’s mind during the course of the conversation. Because of this, the department encourages hiring managers to prepare a list of questions they will ask applicants ahead of time, rather than going into the interview with only a vague idea of what to talk about and playing things by ear.

The department has also stopped short of designating the above questions as illegal. It has, however, said that violators will receive reprimands, and also that it will be holding a conference in August to further discuss with local companies what are and aren’t appropriate topics during a job interview.

Source: Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko

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© SoraNews24

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
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Blimey. As a former HR manager in Australia, I've interviewed god knows how many people in my lifetime. Not one of these questions has ever been asked in any interview process I've ever been part of. Not even between panel members. Although one guy did once ask a female candidate whether she thought she was a good mother (wince).

Are Japanese employers routinely going into a selection process with "only a vague idea of what to talk about"? Do interviewers really ask questions like the ones on this list? Has anyone reading this who lives and works in Japan ever been asked these kinds of questions when being interviewed for a job? Or is this just a beat-up?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Easy to identify from the questions that they were made by right wing companies supervisors , the genre of people who agitate the total discipline to reject innovative, creative individual opinions. Totally biased and xenophobic tendencies to introduce the collective mindset of that Imperial Japan of ww2.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

easily answered

● Where were you born?

in Japan

● What kind of work do your parents do?

hard work

● Are you an only child?

yes or no

● What kind of car do you drive?

one with four wheel

● Are you Buddhist?

no religion

● What political party is closest to your way of thinking?

one that works for the people and doesnt steal from them

● Do you want to get married one day?

if i meet the right person

● Which historical figure do you like?

many, nearly all in the fields of science and people who fight for peoples rights

● What do you think of Marxism?

pass

● Are you a member of any groups or organizations?

im a member of the JAF , heres a copy of my drivers licence

● Which newspaper do you read?

none I have the internet

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Wtf - classic!

Definitely not the sort of questions I seemed to get asked in interviews down here! Questions which encourage lateral thinking and what you can bring to the organisation are more common, not what car you drive etc

0 ( +0 / -0 )

During an interview at a temp agency, I overheard a girl being asked if she's living alone. I get that question during interviews in Japan all the time. I never got that in the states.

Years ago, one Japanese girl told me, the interviewer commented on her family. (She's from a big family down south.) He said, "O-------- have nothing better to do." I felt very angry for her.

I get:

What do your parents do?

(Even when I reply that they are dead, the interviewer wants know what they did and who they worked for.)

Are you an only child?

(When I say I am, they want to know whether my parents have siblings. I told this to a few of my Japanese co-workers and they told me that the company probably wants to know for their in case of emergency contacts record. Er... why ask in the interview? Plus, I never got hired! Nosy interviewer, methinks. Nothing to do with the job or just making small talk while thinking, "Not a viable candidate for this position but let me stretch out the interview.")

4 ( +4 / -0 )

When I came to Japan 40 years ago a lot of those questions were par for the course. It was still fairly common for companies to not hire women who did not live with their parents, or at least other relatives. Or for Tokyo companies to require women, and sometimes men, to live in company dormitories if they were from out of town. I remember a couple of women who were living with their boyfriends who were under constant stress for fear their companies might find out. One was, in the company records, officially living with her uncle, while the uncle thought she was living in the company dorm.

Later on I remember being nonplussed when I met a man who had been an excellent student and hoped to work for the main local bank where his uncle was an executive. He wasn’t hired, apparently because when he was in high school his own father had died, making him unacceptable as a child of a single parent household. . .

Glad to see efforts like this one by Kumamoto. The more the better.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Woah! No way can you ask any thing like these questions in the UK. Thank goodness.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Inappropriate but not illegal, therefore ask whatever you want.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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