If you are attending a job interview at a Japanese company for the first time, you may be worried about what you will be asked and whether you can answer the questions well in Japanese.

But don’t worry. The interview questions are generally the same for most Japanese companies, so you will be fine if you just get prepared to answer them.

In this post, I, having interviewed several hundred people including non-Japanese for about 20 years at Japanese companies, will explain the most common job interview questions and the points which Japanese job interviewers focus on. I believe this will be helpful for those who want to work for a Japanese company so please read to the end.

What do Japanese job interviewers focus on?

What are the points which Japanese job interviewers focus on?

What do interviewers focus on regardless of whether you are Japanese or non-Japanese

Regardless of whether you are Japanese or not, interviewers at Japanese companies focus on the following points during interviews.

  • How you care about your appearance
  • Facial expressions when you speak
  • The way you listen to and answer
  • Whether you are likely to work for the company for a long time
  • Skills ,expertise, and experiences needed for the job

You might wonder why there are so many points other than skills and experiences. In Japanese companies, it is of course important to produce good results at work, but a more important point of evaluation is whether you can build good relationships with people inside and outside the company and work with them. Most Japanese companies do not accept employees who don’t care what other people think of them although they create good results and bring much profit to the company.

Interviewers cannot determine whether you can build a good relationship with people around you in just a short period of time during an interview. Therefore, they determine whether or not you are likely to be cooperative by looking at your personal appearance, facial expressions, and other efforts to avoid making others uncomfortable.

What do job interviewers evaluate a foreigner’s Japanese language skills

In addition to the above, Japanese language ability is an important evaluation point for non-Japanese. The Japanese level requirement differs depending on the job, but the points to be evaluated remain the same regardless of the level. The three main points are as follows

  • Do you understand the Japanese question correctly?
  • Can you answer in easy-to-understand Japanese?
  • Can you use Keigo?

Being able to speak correctly and clearly is more important than fluency. I see people who give answers that are fluent but do not match the question. They may be evaluated as not being able to understand the instructions for the job. If you are not sure you understood the interviewer’s question correctly, tell them to repeat the question and make sure your answer matches the question.

It is also very important to be able to use Keigo (honorific Japanese) when working in Japan, so I recommend that you practice Keigo thoroughly.

Please read the following post about the way to call an interviewer.

Questions always asked in Japanese job interviews

Q. 自己紹介(じこしょうかい)をしてください。(Please introduce yourself)

Make a speech which consists of 1) A word of thanks for the opportunity to the interview (e.g. “本日(ほんじつ)貴重(きちょう)なお時間(じかん)をいただきありがとうございます。” ), 2) your name, home country, university you attended, etc., 3) an appeal of your past experience and efforts, 4) what you want to do at this company, and 5) closing word (e.g. “本日(ほんじつ)はよろしくお(ねが)いします。”). The length of your speech should be no longer than 3 minutes. You will be asked about your past career and the skills you possess in detail later, so there is no need to go into detail here.

Q. 志望理由(しぼうりゆう)(おし)えてください。(What is your reason for applying?)

The reason interviewers ask this question is to determine “whether you are likely to work for this company for a long time.” Although job changes are more common in Japan than in the past, companies are still looking for people who will work for the company for a long time.

The interviewers will give you a good evaluation if they can see why you are interested in this company and not another company, and if you have made a lot of research on the company. Conversely, if interviewers get the impression that you have not done any research on the company, your evaluation will drop considerably. Be sure to know basic information about the company, its history, all of its businesses, and its strengths compared to other companies.

Q. 転職理由(てんしょくりゆう)(おし)えてください(What is your reason for changing jobs?)

You will always be asked this question in mid-career interviews. The interviewer understand that you left the previous company because you were dissatisfied with it in some way, so it is acceptable to be honest even about negative reasons. However, if you only give reasons such as “I wasn’t evaluated appropriately” or “I couldn’t do the work I wanted to do,” the interviewer may judge that you may quit if you become dissatisfied with this company as well. Let them know that you also made efforts to improve that dissatisfaction.

The most common reason for changing jobs may be career advancement. Reasons for career advancement make a good impression on interviewers. However, be careful not to make the interviewers think that you think this company is another step in your career. As mentioned above, companies are looking for people who will work for this company for a long time, so if they think that you might change jobs again soon, your evaluation will be lowered.

Q. 日本(にほん)()理由(りゆう)(おし)えてください。(Why you came to Japan?)

If you are non-Japanese, you will be asked why you came to Japan. The reason is that the interviewers simply want to know why you came to Japan and they want to make sure whether you intend to live in Japan for a long time. Regardless of the reason, many interviewers will take a positive view of a foreigner’s interest in Japan, so please try to elaborate.

Q. 質問(しつもん)はありますか?(Do you have any question?)

This question is asked in the end of the interview. The intent of this question is to confirm whether you have a strong desire to work for this company. If there is no question, you may be judged as not very interested in this company or may quit soon. Even if you have already heard everything you want to know in the interview up to that point, be sure to ask some questions. The questions can be about anything, but it is best not to ask anything that you can find out by reading the company’s Web site.

Sample questions:
今後(こんご)AIによってどう影響(えいきょう)があると(かんが)えていますか? (How do you think AI will affect your company in the future?)
()社員(しゃいん)はどのような年齢層(ねんれいそう)(おお)いですか? (What are the ages of the other employees?)
職場以外(しょくばいがい)社員同士(しゃいんどうし)交流(こうりゅう)はありますか? (Do you have any social networking with other employees outside of the workplace?)
・どういうキャリアパスがありますか? (What career paths are available?)

Other common Japanese job interview questions

Q. Questions about you past experiences

If you are changing jobs, talk about your past work experiences. If you are a recent graduate, talk about your school and part-time work experiences. Tell them about your accomplishments and the skills you have.

Q. あなたの長所(ちょうしょ)短所(たんしょ)(なん)ですか? (What are your strengths and weaknesses?)

It doesn’t matter what the answer is because everyone has strengths and weaknesses. However, it is better not to answer, “I have no weaknesses. You may be judged as not being able to analyze yourself or not being cooperative.

Q. 将来(しょうらい)のキャリアプランを(おし)えてください。 (What are your future career plans?)

This is another question to confirm that you will work for this company for a long time. Even if you think this company is the place for you to take a step up in your career, it is best not to be honest.

Q. 日本語(にほんご)はどのように勉強(べんきょう)しましたか? (How did you study Japanese?)

Interviewers understand that it is very difficult for foreigners to master Japanese. Since you will be evaluated as a person who can make efforts at work as well, please tell them how you made efforts to learn Japanese.

Q. 母国(ぼこく)(もど)予定(よてい)はありますか? (Do you plan to return to your home country?)

Like the above question, this is another question to confirm whether you will work for this company for a long time. The number of years “for a long time” means differs from company to company, but they would expect you to work for them for at least three years or more. Therefore, you can answer for example “not right away, but I may return in the future”.

Q. 条件(じょうけん)希望(きぼう)はありますか? (Do you have any preferences for working conditions?)

If there is something that is absolutely non-negotiable, such as salary or work location, be honest about it. Even if you are able to join the company without telling them, it would be unfortunate for both you and the company if you quit immediately because of those conditions.


In this post, I explained the common questions that are often asked in interviews at Japanese companies. Some of the questions may have been incomprehensible to those who have never worked for a Japanese company. Of course, the questions and evaluation criteria may differ from company to company, but most companies ask you those kinds of questions in their job interviews, so I think it is worth remembering.

Please do your best to show the interviewer your good points and start a great career in Japan.