What is Group Discussion, a Unique Job Interview in Japan? – How to Prepare and Practice –
Group discussion is a unique type of job interview held during Japanese job-hunting. Group discussions are usually separated into 6 different segments. In this article, we provide you the run-down of the segments, and the time limit for each segment. We also provide some tips on how to become a better player in group discussions.
The group discussion interview is one of the unique points of Japanese job-hunting. This is also called “group work” in some companies. Group discussion is a selection method where applicants are divided into groups, given a theme to discuss and draw a conclusion which they will present to the panel. As teamwork is a highly valued aspect in Japanese companies, the employers want to identify qualities such as communication and cooperation. Additionally, this provides a way to evaluate aspects that cannot be seen through document screening such as logical reasoning, creativity, and knowledge on current affairs. Based on a survey done by Rikunabi, the group discussions are often done in groups of 2-5 with the duration of 20-30 minutes but the conditions may change depending on the company.
General Flow of Group Discussion
The general flow is broken down into six segments:
① Introduction by interviewers
The interviewers will introduce the theme and discuss details such as the time limit, rules and goal of the group discussion. The theme may vary based on the company but common themes fall under industry-related or current affairs-related.
Sample topics include:
• What kind of hotel would you like to stay at?
• Future outlook for the construction industry
• Future prospects of business using AI or VR technology
• Propose 3 ideas for regional revitalization
• Current affairs and economic issues
• Issues within an aging society and solutions
• What are 3 things a supermarket should do to double sales?
Group work may have slightly different themes compared to group discussion. This format may require the group to come up with a scheme or output based on the theme. They may also have you do a simulation game or some kind of activity. For example:
• Propose a revolutionary product based on our company’s achievements and product data
• Propose a new business plan within the budget given to your group
All members of the group will give a brief introduction stating their names and school.
③ Role assignment and setting agenda
There are three main roles that should be decided.
• Initiates the discussion and ensures that the discussion is moving forward
• Encourages all members to speak up and join the conversation
• Takes notes on all the topics discussed and important points made by each member
• Organizes the content of the discussion in an understandable way
• Writes down notes on paper or on the whiteboard
• Manages the time for discussions and guides the group to avoid wasting time
• Encourages members to reach conclusions within the time limit
Every member of the team including people with roles are expected to actively participate in the discussion and demonstrate their ability to work in a team.
Once these three roles have been assigned, the group must also decide on the agenda and time allotment for each point.
Sample agenda (30 mins)
• Role assignments (2 minutes)
• Confirm prerequisites (5 minutes)
• Discussion (20 minutes)
• reparation for presentation (3 minutes)
This is the main part of the group discussion. Here, you have to elaborate on the topic and work towards finding your conclusion. To give a good impression, each member should keep the balance of three points:
1. Share your own ideas. This might be obvious as one of the main objectives in the group discussion. This point highlights your knowledge and ability to form your own opinion. Additionally, being able to articulate your ideas well shows that you have good communication skills.
2. Listen to your groupmates’ ideas. Include validation phrases such as 「そうですね」and nod your head to show that you are listening. Also, if other members brought up any points that you agree with, make sure to acknowledge that before bringing up your own points. Try to incorporate other people's opinions to improve your own opinion. Keeping this in mind will give the impression that you can listen and understand other people’s opinions and are open to these ideas.
3. Ask for other people’s opinions. Making sure everyone contributes to the discussion may be one of the facilitator’s tasks, but you can always give the spotlight onto another member if you notice that they have not been given enough time to speak. For example, you can state your opinion and ask another member, “What do you think?” or you can also ask questions that help elaborate a point they were trying to make. Along with the second point, this shows that you are a team player and value your other team member’s opinions.
Nearing the end, the group has to come up with their final conclusion or output, depending on the theme. Make sure that the member presenting the conclusion has a clear picture on what the group has decided on.
The chosen speaker will discuss the conclusion to the panel of interviewers.
JPort occasionally holds a month-long workshop called JPort就活総合対策 which helps a select group of students with their 就活 journey. This includes a session on how to write your ES (entry sheet) and conduct a practice group discussion and mock interview. To put what you learned in this article to practice, sign-up for the workshop in October 2021 through this link!
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