Japan: Getting An Interview

Hello again everyone! I really hope these posts have been interesting for you, or at least that they’ll be helpful to someone.

After applying to quite a few schools and ALT recruitment companies, I waited. I should tell you that I was applying for jobs at the same time as my teacher friend, who’s a native speaker, so I’ll be comparing my experience to his. Let’s call him Fred.

I had to wait for around a week or two before getting an answer from one of the schools, which for me wasn’t that bad. Fred, however, immediately got answers from several different companies.

I don’t want to sound bitter here, I was very happy and wrote wonderful references for him. I just really want people in my situation to get their heads around this! It makes a huge difference, at least when applying for jobs in Japan, whether you are a native speaker or not.

Also, the way they contacted me was different. He got email replies, I got a phone call one morning so that they could check if I had an accent or not before even getting offered an interview.

I do understand where they’re coming from. I know a lot of EFL teachers who have strong accents and companies frown upon this, especially when they advertise as only having native teachers. And I understand it from the parents and students’ point of view. If I were a language student, I’d ask for a native speaker as well.

Anyway, I’m not writing about whether or not non-native speakers should teach English, at least not in this post. They called me, decided I sounded American and sent me an email that same day in order to book an interview.

They were extremely flexible with dates, and this was the same with Fred. Once a date was settled, they sent me an email telling me everything I would have to do during the interview and, let me tell you, it was a lot! But I’d like to speak about that in the next post.

I’d like to get back to the much discussed problem of companies which aren’t legitimate or don’t treat their teachers well in Japan. Like I said in the previous post, researching this will help you decide which companies to apply for. However, I’d try keeping more of an open mind when it comes to this.

The company I applied for is actually where a friend of mine used to work and he had already told me that they did everything they claimed they did, but that the classroom conditions were terrible. That to me sounds like a great company! If they pay me on time and don’t treat me badly, that’s fine by me.

And I think that if you get a weirdly written email, or with a lot of English mistakes, don’t be too put off by this. Most of the time, the people who are dealing with you are Japanese and might make some mistakes when writing emails. And, in Fred’s case, might seem a bit too relaxed or friendly. Just say yes to everything, go to the interview and decide later on if you want to sign a contract with them or not. Going to an interview does not mean you are required to work with them.

That’s the important thing, really. You are only bound to a job once you sign a contract. Even then, you can always manage to get out of it, so don’t stop looking for other options.

On my next post I’ll talk about the interview itself and all the different things I had to do, always comparing with Fred, who has accepted a position with a different company.

Until next time,

Ines

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