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Job Interviews in Japan

BusinessCultureArticle

Finally you’ve managed to land a job interview in Japan!

An interviewer at a Japanese company has started to talk to you about the dos and don’ts of the company. He emphasizes their business practices to avoid expectation gaps with you as the job applicant.

 

His company has lost countless non-Japanese engineers, so he is exploring unconventional methods of recruitment, after a greenlight from the CEO.

quotation marks

It is foolish to adopt business practices just because they are popular temporarily for only a few decades as a result of globalization. It is even more foolish to abandon timeless values and culture that have been a strong base for prosperity throughout centuries. World cultures sparkle because of diversity. Then, why not a unique alternative work culture.

The job interviewer opens the interview by saying, “In our company …” to create a feeling of inclusiveness. He transparently emphasizes company practices as follows:

japan office culture

Take a moment to be honest with yourself, Do you still want to work in Japan … or are you inclined to look elsewhere? Obviously your hesitation is understandable as work styles and values in both East and West differ. But I suggest that you try this trick before you give up like most uninformed job applicants do: Ask the interviewer about the values in their workplace to see if they match yours.

 

If the interviewer mumbles and fails to offer reasonable answers or even starts getting angry about your unexpected inquiries, then, you should look elsewhere right away. Such companies will become extinct in this war for talent! They are the ones that have been getting by on archaic business systems that have passed the expiration date a long time ago.

 

If he can answer your questions passionately by combining pros & cons of common (global/Western) work styles and positive meanings of their practices and underlying work culture, then, this is it! You should get on board! 

 

Here is a list that showcases typical work styles in Japanese companies to minimize your expectation gaps, and secondly, to remind Japanese readers of the need to review the original meanings of the way they work. To me, Japan’s work style contains a microcosm of alternative life values, the secrets of resolving conflicts that have the means to spark enjoyment, diligence and labor.

 

They are far from archaic. They are the treasure, encapsulated inside the treasure box. While preoccupied to pursue katakana “global” trends, Japanese leaders have neglected to open the treasure box, and give them the spotlight.

Conclusion

It is foolish to adopt business practices just because they are popular temporarily for only a few decades as a result of globalization. It is even more foolish to abandon timeless values and culture that have been a strong base for prosperity throughout centuries. World cultures sparkle because of diversity. Then, why not a unique alternative work culture.

 

Go see my list again. Ask yourself if you are the rare bird who is willing to search and appreciate those treasures. I said “such a company will be a rarity”, because Japanese culture neither encourages nor believes in explaining every thought in words (that’s why they don’t have fights to win arguments like English speakers do. Yes, this is for another blog). Therefore, although it is the employers’ job by right to do so to keep talents, practically speaking, it will be your job to adapt to their work styles by acquiring local communication skills.

 

That will be 10 times faster than waiting for Japanese to strike a fine balance between excavating their culture and transforming it into what feels comfortable to non-Japanese. The golden rule in international business has always been “Speak the Customer’s Language”.

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