How to Prepare for Job Interviews in Japan: Sample Questions and Pre-Interview Checklist

August 25, 2021 4 min read

Job interviews are an unavoidable part of the job-hunting process. However, the simplest way to overcome this barrier is through preparation and practice.


First, review your ES and know how to explain more about the experiences you have written. Employers often ask about your past work experience, extracurricular activities, self-PR (自己PR), and reason(s) for applying to the company (志望動機). In mentioning these, from the beginning of the job-hunting process, you should have already done your self-analysis (自己分析). From this, the employer may ask the following questions

• What did you put effort into when you were in university?
• Promote yourself! (Show your points of appeal, etc)
→ Based on your entry sheet, explain your main point of appeal, share a story that can back it up, and tell them what you learned from this experience.
• What are your strengths?
→ How do you think you can utilize your strengths while working for the company?
• What are your weaknesses? How do you deal with these?
• What was the most difficult experience you have had and how did you overcome it?
• What do you think you will be doing in 10 years?
• What is your role in a group setting?

Next, focus on the company. According to a survey done by Rikunabi, the information interviewees want to learn through the interview is mainly what the candidate’s motivation for joining the company is and to evaluate if the candidate and the company are a good match. From this, the employer may ask the following questions:

• Tell us your motivation for applying to this company.
• What about our company interests you?
• What do you want to do specifically after joining? Why?
• What do you want to achieve with this company?
• Is our company your top choice?
→ What other companies are you interested in and why?

Finally, you could prepare for some tricky questions as well. These are questions that sound a bit strange given the situation, but are a way for the interviewer to assess how quickly you can prepare a logical answer and express your ideas/opinions which is an essential ability in the real working field . Examples include:

• What animal do you think best describes you?
• If you had 1,000,000 yen, what would you do with it?
• Describe yourself in a single Kanji character.

Formulating your answers

Knowing the questions is half of the battle, but knowing how to answer them well is the other half. The duration of the interview may vary depending on the company, but the average is 30 minutes to an hour. Within this time frame, you want to make sure that you have shown them all your strengths and that they understand what role you can play in the company. 

Focus on how to state them in a clear and concise manner. Adding unnecessary words or straying away from your point will lead to confusion, and may be a huge demerit. Make sure that you answer their questions directly and only add other information if it supports your point. Moreover, think about what anecdotes and experiences you want to share in order to showcase your capabilities. The interviewer would want to hear concrete examples of your strengths. For example, if your strength is leadership, tell them about how you led a project and include how you delegated tasks to the team.

Measure the time

To ensure concise answers, measure the time it takes for you to answer a question. Taking too much time will cut down time for other questions, and taking too little time might lead to shallow answers. The recommended duration for answers are as follows:

• Self-introduction and easy to answer questions (30 seconds each)
• 志望動機 and 自己PR (1 min and 30 seconds)
• Past experiences and career plan (1 minute for each)


In order to get used to the process, you have to keep practicing. This can be done alone or with others.

Record yourself

You can record yourself and watch it back. Interviews are there to evaluate you not only based on your communication skill, but also your body language. Check if you’re talking too fast or too slow, if you have any unnecessary movements, or if you have any nervous ticks. Being aware of these can help you avoid them in the future.

Practice with others

The most accessible way would be to practice with your friends. Since you won’t be as nervous with your peers, you can get used to how you say your answers. After this, you can move on to practicing with your mentors from your university career center. Here, you can get used to the nerves. The more you practice, the less intimidating the actual interviews will be. Finally, to test your skills in the real setting, you can schedule interviews with companies that are not at the top of your list first (to know more about how many companies you should apply to, check out this article). From here, you will know how you fare under the actual circumstances, and still have time to improve before doing the interview with the companies you are aiming for.

Pre-interview checklist

Online interviews

□ Check your internet connection and if you can access the platform to be used (Skype, Zoom, etc)
□ Check if your camera and mic are working.
→ Make sure that the camera is clearly showing your face.
→ Ensure that the lighting is not too bright or too dim.
→ Consider placing your laptop camera at eye level by placing it on a stand to make it feel more like a conversation between you and the interviewer.
□ Keep a notepad and pen for notes.
□ Make sure you are following the dress code for the interview.
□ Charge your laptop or phone to make sure it doesn’t run out of battery.
• What is your role in a group setting?

In-person interviews

□ Wear the appropriate outfit. (Check out this article for more information on the appropriate job-hunting outfit!)
□ Confirm the location of the interview, including where to go when you arrive at the venue.
□ Things to bring:
→ Bag that can fit A4 sized paper
→ Your phone
→ Documents from the company
→ Your entry sheet and resume
→ Copies of your entry sheet and resume
→ A clear folder
→ Wrist watch
→ Handkerchief or tissue

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 have learned in this article, to practice, sign-up for the workshop in October 2021 through this link!

JPort Student Support Team
We create Borderless Japan

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