Japan: Interview Questions

So, as we (meaning I) patiently wait (meaning painfully agonize over) any more news from the school I’ll be working with in Japan, I thought I should talk about some of the questions they asked me during my interview.

Of course they asked me the usual things, like if I had had any experience working with children, asked about what I would do in different situations and how I would teach different things to children. If you’d like me to talk about any of the teaching-related questions, I’ll write another post at some point, but for now I want to focus on the Japan-specific questions.

1.Why did you decide to work in Japan?

A thing I noticed whenever I had to answer this question was that whenever you say “anime” or “manga”, interviewers will give a little laugh as their face twists into an expression that seems to say “I’ve heard this one before”. I’m not saying you need to lie about it if this is the truth, but maybe try to jazz it up a little?

I told them the truth, that when I lived in Brazil my classmates introduced me to manga and anime and that’s how it started. That later on I got interested in the rest of the culture, especially the history between Japan and Portugal.

I also mentioned that I had been trying to learn the language, and that I wanted to live in Japan in order to improve on it and to better understand Japanese customs. I’ve heard some people say that certain recruiters frowned upon people who spoke Japanese for some reason, but that didn’t seem to bother my interviewer.

2. How will you cope with being homesick?

In my case, I have had extensive experience with feeling homesick. I already live far from my family, and have moved around a bit, so I told them that I didn’t see how it would be a problem. I told them that yes, it would be more difficult than being in England because I can just hop on a plane and be in Portugal by dinner time, but that it wouldn’t be my first time dealing with being homesick.

If you’ve never lived away from your family and friends, maybe don’t focus on how good you think you are at dealing with it, but on how you will keep in contact with the people you love. Explain that nowadays it’s easy because there are things like Skype that you can use to keep in touch. Maybe tell them that you do know it will be hard, but that some people are already putting money aside to go visit you.

3. How will you cope with culture shock?

Similar question as the previous one, I know, but still quite a big one. In my case I mentioned Brazil again and how I had to adapt to certain things, like the food and the safety issue in Sao Paulo. Also, I had already visited Japan by the time of the interview and told them that I had loved it and how amazing the food and the people were, and about the things I found different, like the toilets never having hand towels. We also discussed how completely safe I felt walking around on the street at 4am whilst going to the kombini.

If you haven’t been to Japan, you can always say you’ve done some research and watched videos about it on Youtube. It’s always good to make it personal and to give examples. Try to avoid saying you’ll be fine because you are so interested in Japanese culture, because that’s not really something that will help you with culture shock. Tell them how much you love learning about new cultures and how you love new challenges, and that you know you’ll have to adapt to certain aspects of life in Japan.

4. If you get lost, how will you cope?

Now this question was specific to the school, because each teacher is responsible for four schools in total, and might even have to go to extra schools for cover work. However, most teaching jobs in Japan involve this, so that’s why I’m including it.

In my case I told them that I know enough Japanese to ask for directions. Other good things to say is that I would have the address written in kanji on a piece of paper in order to use as a reference, and that nowadays I could always use google maps to find possible routes, as that is how I organised my travels in Japan.

This question is especially important because some of the locations are in rural areas where most signs are in kanji and not a lot of people can speak English. Tell them you’ll study the route in advance and that you’ll have all of the station names in kanji ready for use in case you need to ask for directions.

So there you are. I think these were the major questions related to Japan they asked during the interview. If you’d like me to talk about the teaching-related questions, please tell me in the comments and I’ll try and write it as soon as I can.

I’d also like to apologise for the lack of posts lately, but a lot of things have been happening lately that I have had to deal with. Hopefully, life will get back to normal soon, but I’ll warn you that I won’t have a lot of time until June so please, bear with me.

Hope this post has been useful, and until next time,





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