Diary: My First Non-teaching Job Interviews in Japan (Part I)

June 26

Dear Diary,

I am doing what many teenagers do before university: evaluate their lives so far and think about what to do with them thereafter. As a teenager, I focused on getting good grades and getting into the best university I could. I did not think too much about my major. Now, I have to right old wrongs. I believe fear/laziness leads to lack of research i.e., the reason most people wander around, waiting for inspiration to strike career-wise. Two weeks ago, I  refined my job search twice. First, I chose my favorites from the recruiter’s list. Next, I searched the Japanese job site, HelloWork (ハローワーク) to find postings on my own. Finally, I looked at my favorite shops to see if there were job listings. Of course he doesn’t show it, but I’m sure I am driving him crazy. I had three #1 choices: my top pick of the jobs he showed me, another based on location, and my favorite shop of all time, untainted by the need to find work!

Although playing potential employers off of each other to get a better deal (in terms of benefits or pay) is seen as admirable in some countries, in Japan, people who want to be hired, as either life-long (正社員 seishain), full-time, or part-time (アルバイトさん arubaitosan), should not delay accepting the job offer because they are waiting for the results of another job interview. 

I will talk about the application process later…maybe, but I just want to go over the interviews themselves.

To begin, I had not been getting my usual 8.7 hours of sleep a night for the past week, and used valuable preparation time on Friday to take a nap because interview or no, I was not going to miss Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on TV. Yes, I did watch it in English. I don’t like dubs in English or Japanese! Anyway, on Saturday, I had to duck under the railway crossing gate to catch the train. Then, I got a little lost on the way to #1 In Terms of Location, so I had to run to arrive 10 minutes early. I sat down to sip cherry tea (if possible try to eat and drink sitting down in Japan, except if it is a festival (祭り matsuri)), then a lady comes out to ask if I am the person who is waiting for the mensetsu (面接, interview).

A quick succession of rapid-fire questions sound in my head, “What mensetsu? I thought this was the pre-interview! I am not wearing the standard suit! Is my bun too ornate?!” 

Here is what I expected:

An employee leads a striking, stylish foreigner to a door, preferably the manager’s office.
Employee: Here is the manager’s office.
Me: Arigatou gozaimasu.

Knock, knock, knock. 
(Two knocks in Japan are for the restroom!)
Me: Shitsurei itashimasu. (“Excuse me” delivered with the perfect blend of eagerness restrained by humility.)
Manager: Douzo. (This is an all-purpose word for giving the go-ahead, which means “please enter” in this case.)
I enter a small room, lit by florescent bulbs.
Me: Shitsurei itashimasu.
I make a 30 degree-bow.
Manager: Tell me your name.
Me: I am called Crumblove Celesty, of the University of Royalty of Unknown Origins, currently a knight-errant at for someone who must not be named. (Name of university/company followed by family and given names)
Manager: Please have a seat.
I place my bag next to the chair.
Me: Shitsureishimasu.
I sit on the edge of the seat with my legs at a 90 degree angle from the floor. The manager asks for my 履歴書 (rirekisho, resume). I turn the paper towards him, presenting it with both hands. He then proceeds to ask questions: Do you intend to live in Japan all your life? Why did you choose this company? Please explain how to get to this restaurant in Japanese. What is your weakness? Why is this your dream job? Do you have any questions. I fare fairly. Then, he asks when I want to start. I come up with the perfect excuse for being unable to answer him until Tuesday. Then, I stand up.
Me: Thank you very much for taking time to speak with me.
I pick up my bag, stand up, turn towards him at the door, saying “Shitsurei itashimasu,” bow at a 35 degree angle (how I manage to make a 5 degree visible is beyond me), take the hand with my right with my left hovering over the right, and wake up.

I’ll tell you what really happened later.




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