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Interviews are nerve-wrecking for everybody but more so for an international student not as familiar with the Japanese language. To help you out, we’ve prepared this article covering the As to Zs of part time job interviews in Japan - frequently asked interview questions, what to prepare for the day itself, the flow of the interviews, and manners/greetings to mind.
Table of Contents
Most interviews for part time jobs start with self-introduction. Other simple questions include: your reason for applying, what work conditions you are looking for, and your strengths and weaknesses. For international students, “What made you want to study in Japan?”and “What do you like about Japan?” are also commonly asked.
To prepare for the interview (so you don’t panic or freeze up), let’s go through the main parts of the interview including questions that may come up. We also recommend doing a practice session or simulation before your interview.
Very important as it allows the interviewer to get an understanding of you. You will be usually asked about the following, so think carefully before answering.
Country of Origin
Reason for Studying Abroad
Reason for Choosing Japan to Study Abroad
Strengths and/or Weaknesses
Japanese Level and Understanding
By answering these questions, the interviewer can evaluate your personality, enthusiasm for the job, and your Japanese capabilities. That said, if you cannot understand or missed what the interviewer had said, don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat by politely saying,
Mou ichido onegaishimasu.
- One more time please.
Being polite and honest goes a long way when presenting your best self to the interviewer.
This part of the interview is where you can most yourself to the interviewer. Try to keep your answer short but concise, basically summarize your thoughts and deliver it in a way the interviewer can best understand your reasons and motivation for applying.You will usually be asked the following.
Reason for Applying for the Part Time Job
How Would You Like to Work
What You Think About the Business/Product/Service
What You Think About the Company/Shop
Toku ni arimasen.
which means “nothing in particular” is not a good answer when being asked about your aspirations. It may give the interviewer a bad impression that you have low motivation to work or don’t care where you work, which also means you don’t really care about the job or their business.
You don’t need to think too hard about how to answer these questions. Simple but well-meaning answers like “I like the food in this shop”, “I’m really interested in this company’s products”, or any similar answer are good enough as long as it shows sincerity.
More importantly, avoid linking your reason for application with work conditions as the interviewer may think that “this person might quit when there’s a part time job with better conditions available…”
The following are common shiboudoki that international students give when applying for part time jobs. Have a look and feel free to use as reference.
Watashi wa shourai nihon de hatarakitai to kangaete imasu.
- I’m thinking of working in Japan in the future.
Genzai nihongo gakkou de benkyou chuu desuga, jissai ni nihonjin to hanasu kikai ga hotondo arimasen.
- I’m currently studying in a Japanese language school but there’s not many chances to actually speak with a Japanese person.
Arubaito wo tsuujite nihon no manaa ya kihonteki na kotobazukai wo manabi, nihonjin no kata to hanasu kikai wo fuyashitai to omoi oboushimashita.
- I applied because I wanted to learn Japanese etiquette and basic words/sentences, and also increase opportunities to talk with Japanese people.
Tadashii nihongo wo oboete shigoto demo katsuyaku dekiru youni ganbaritai desu.
- I will do my best to learn proper Japanese as well as work hard at this job.
TIP: If you have previous part time working experience in your home country, you can add this before the last sentence above:
Bokoku de ichido ◯◯ no arubaito wo keiken-shiteiru no de, suguni shigoto wo oboerareru to omoimasu.
- I have experience working part time as a ◯◯ in my home country, so I believe I can pick up the job fast.
Nihon de kankou ni kakawaru shigoto ni tsuku tame, nihon no daigaku de nihongo to kankougaku wo manandeimasu.
- I am studying Japanese and tourism in a Japanese university to get a tourism related job in Japan.
Nihongo mo daibu jyoutatsu shitekita no de, kankoukyaku no ooi kochira no omise de sekkyaku no keiken wo tsumitai to omoi, arubaito e oubou shimashita.
- My Japanese has improved a lot, so I wanted to gain experience serving customers and applied for a part time job at this shop which receives many tourist customers.
Watashi wa nihongo igai ni eigo to chuugokugo ga hanasemasu.
- I can speak English and Chinese in addition to Japanese.
Arubaito de mo yakudaterareru to omoimasu no de, zehi hatarakasete kudasai.
- I think it (languages) will come in useful even for part time jobs, so please allow me to work.
Nihongo gakkou he kayotteiru no desuga gakuhi wo oya ni futan shitemoratte imasu.
- I am attending a Japanese language school, but my parents pay the tuition fees.
Dekiru kagiri jibun de gakuhi wo youi shitai to omoi, arubaito wo sagashite imashita.
- As much as possible I want to pay for my own school fees and so I looked for a part time job.
Koko wa jitaku kara touhou go-fun de fuinki mo ii no de, gakkou gaeri ni yoku tachiyotte imasu.
- This place is a 5 minutes walk from my home and has a nice atmosphere so I often drop by on the way home from school.
Arubaito wo suru nara koko ga ii to kangaete ita no de, boshuu wo mite sugu ni oubou shimashita.
- If it’s to work part time, here would be a good place, is what I thought so I applied immediately after seeing the recruitment post.
Nagaku hatarakitai to omotte imasu no de, yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
- I am thinking of working for a long time, so I look forward to working with you.
To prevent a mismatch of working conditions and expectations, questions about specific working conditions will always be asked during the interview. As an international student, your maximum working hours is 28 hours / week, so think about what working conditions you are willing to subject yourself to based on that. Some common questions include:
When can you start working?
How many hours a day, and how many days a week can you work?
How will you commute to work, and how long does it take?
How long are you planning to work this part time job?
When deciding on the working conditions with your interviewer, pay attention to work study balance and restriction on working hours. There are interviewers who do not know about international students' working hours limit so make sure to let them know.
Also, take note that you can work up to 8 hours / day to a maximum of 40 hours / week during your school’s stipulated long term vacations, e.g. winter and summer vacation.
If you plan to work long term at a part time job, the interviewer may ask how long you can stay in Japan. Your period of stay is written on your Resident Card (在留カード Zairyuu Kaado) so just show that to the interviewer (also to show as proof).
IMPORTANT: Overworking (not following the work hours limit) may get you deported regardless of your remaining period of stay. Your employer will also be penalized for illegal employment. Something to keep in mind if you want to, or your boss wants you to, work more than allowed.
Complete preparations for your interview the day before. This gives you ample time to get ready and prevents last minute stress and panicking.
First impressions are key to a successful interview. Not dressing well gives off a sloppy and uncaring impression. Generally for interviews in Japan it is better to wear a suit, but for part time jobs, casual clothing may be acceptable depending on the place.
For part time jobs at more professional settings, it may be more appropriate to wear a suit. Pick a black or navy coloured suit that’ll give off a clean impression. Iron your suit the day before the interview.
For part time jobs at more casual settings like izakayas, family restaurants and the like places, wearing a suit will be overdressing so casual clothing is more appropriate. Still, you should look clean and sharp with no flashy designs and colours, no skimpy clothing, no mini-skirts and no wacky hairstyles. For a better idea of acceptable casual attire:
Collared shirt, blouse, knitwear, etc.
- Solid colours or simple subtle patterns.
Plain trousers, knee-length/long skirt, jeans.
- Skirts should cover the knees, and no torn jeans.
Simple sneakers, leather shoes, low heeled pumps.
- No open-toed shoes or slippers.
There’s quite a few things you need to bring so have a decent sized bag ready. Avoid stuffing things in your pockets as it will ruin your look with bulky pockets and lack of a clean cut figure. Recommended items you should pack in your bag are:
Personal Identification (Resident Card, Student Card)
Resume / CV
Depending on the season, other items like deodorant, heat pack for your pockets, folding umbrella, etc. should also be brought. For women, it’s a good idea to bring your makeup pouch, sanitary goods, and spare stockings just in case. What bag you bring and the shoes you wear will also be evaluated as part of your outfit, so choose a calm colour with a simple design.
NOTE: Complete Employment Procedure on the Day Itself
There are cases where you can immediately know the results of the interview and get hired on the spot. In that case, though not always the case, it may be good to bring your My Number Card, bank book, and hanko (depending on the place) to complete the procedure.
Interview practice or just preparing answers to questions you expect to be asked in advance will make you more prepared and less nervous for the interview. This is quite a piece of cake as most (if not all) the questions are standard.
More importantly though is that the interview will all be in Japanese, so having your answers (in Japanese) prepared in advance is crucial for a smooth interview.
Once your part time job interview is scheduled, check your schedule for these important things:
The earliest date you can start
The days you can work
The hours you can work
Write the info down in a memo pad or key in your phone to bring it in the interview so you can quickly respond when asked about specific working conditions.
TIP: Hourly wages are higher at certain times - late night shift, early morning shift, weekend shift, etc. Calculate and plan your part time job schedule to work and earn more efficiently.
Do not be late!
Arrive for the interview at the appropriate time and keep your manners in check.
The best time to be at the interview location is 15 minutes early. When you arrive, give your appearance a quick check (hair OK, clothes OK) before entering the shop, office, etc. Greet the staff at the reception or store and politely and clearly say,
Arubaito no saiyou mensetsu ni mairimashita. ◯◯ to moushimasu. Tantou no ◯◯-sama to ◯-ji no yakusoku desu. O-toritsugi wo onegai itashimasu.
- I’m here for a part time job interview. My name is ◯◯. I am to meet the person-in-charge ◯◯-sama at ◯ o’clock. I’d appreciate if you could let them know.
It’s fine if you cannot remember the name of the person in charge, just mention your name, the promised time, and that you are there for a part time job interview. Also, if the above is too difficult to remember, you can use this shorter simpler version,
Arubaito no mensetsu ni mairimashita. ◯◯ to moushimasu. ◯-ji no yakusoku desu. Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.
- I’m here for a part time job interview. My name is ◯◯. The promised time is at ◯ o’clock. Please take care of me.
This differs from place to place, as there are some places that will require you to wait outside or in a separate room until your turn to interview.
When your turn comes, knock on the interview room door 3 times. Wait for the interviewer to call out for you to enter, “Douzo”. Enter the room and clearly say,
- Excuse me/Pardon me.
Bow once and close the door gently. Before sitting down, introduce yourself,
◯◯ desu. Honjitsu wa yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
- I’m ◯◯. Thank you for your time today.
When prompted to sit down, say 「失礼します。」again before taking a seat. The interview will commence.
After the interview is over and you’re about to leave the room, say your goodbyes with,
Honjitsu wa arigatou gozaimashita.
- Thank you for today.
Stand up, adjust the chair back to its original position, bow and head to the door and say 「失礼します。」again before leaving the room, shutting the door gently behind you. Mind your manners until you leave the building making sure to greet staff (your future colleagues perhaps) you meet on your way out.
It is important to listen intently to what the interviewer is saying but equally important is what wording you use when speaking. As an international student, you are not expected to know perfect Japanese or Keigo (敬語 honorific speech) but you should at the very least end your sentences politely using -desu / -masu.
Avoid using slang words like bucchake (ぶっちゃけ) and maji (まじ) that come across as brazen or even rude. To add on, you should use wakarimashita (分かりました) and hai (はい) instead of ryoukaishimashita (了解しました) or naruhodo (なるほど).
To wrap things up, as an international student going for a part time job interview, you will need to keep in mind the following:
Finish preparing the day before the interview; this includes packing your bag and picking your outfit
Have a good grasp of questions that will come up and how to answer them
Be there 15 minutes before the interview starts
Mind your manners and speech
And lastly, keep calm. You got this!
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