Preparing for job interviews

Nicolas Gromik, Tohoku University


Job interviews can be daunting but, with proper preparation, applicants can maximize their chances.The interview for teaching jobs in Japan usually lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.This article offers some tips for making the most of this time.

Preparation is essential for applicants to turn a job interview into a job offer.Review your CV and documentation such as your teaching philosophy. Research the school and its current employeesand students. This information will assistyou in structuring your answers to meet the needs of the school.Doing research will also help you formulate some questions you can ask at the end of the interview. Such strategies are surprisingly ignored by a large number of job seekers.

You should also become familiar with interview questions.Websites such as <> organize questions by categories, including questions for teaching positions. For a list of common TESOL job interview questions see <>.

Next, practice your answers to common questions. Write keywords that best answer the questions. Doing so will save you time thinking about them during the interview and will reduce your anxiety level.Once you’ve thought about your answers, practice with a friend and ask for feedback.

Be warned that interviewers often ask questions you aren’t prepared for. This author has encountered questions such as: “Why are you applying for this dead-end job?”and “You are overqualified for this job, so why should we hire you?”Some have been more challenging such as, “Cognitive scientists would argue that language is innate, while sociocultural theorists think that it isn’t. What is your opinion?”and “How do you deal with conflict?” Strategies for dealing with such questions are to remain calm, to ask for clarification of anyambiguous terms, or to ask for some thinking time.Japanese recruiters often target any discrepancies revealed in your resume; for example they will likely ask about any gaps in your education or employment record.

Some of the positions specify that the applicant must have sufficient Japanese for daily conversation. Not only do you need to brush up on your Japanese communicative skills, but you also need to anticipate the kind of questions that they may ask you.For example, being asked to make a short self-introduction is common in Japan.

In a normal Japanese interview setting, there might be anywhere from five to nine interviewers. Not all of them will be attentive to your responses. Some will only listen to the answer you provide to their question. Don’t be alarmed by this approach and keep eye contact with all interviewers in the room.No matter how tough the recruiters, proper preparation will empower you to leave the interview room with the assurance of having done your best.