Essential Japanese for a job interview

By Tao
Reading Time: 3 minutes

If living and working in Japan is a dream of yours, then there’s a good chance you’ll need some essential Japanese words and phrases for a job interview. Interviews (mensetsu 面接) are an essential part of job hunting anywhere in the world, but there are also some etiquette and cultural norms in Japan that you may not be familiar with.

In this article, we look at what you need to prepare and be aware of for a job interview in Japan, as well as some essential vocabulary and phrases.

Before entering the room

The importance of properly preparing for any job interview cannot be understated. It will make or break your ability to give off a good first impression. As well as preparing answers for questions, also get a hardcopy of your CV and portfolio (if applicable) ready, as well as evidence of your Japanese language proficiency (such as a JLPT certificate). 

It’s important that you know how to use honorific Japanese, or keigo 敬語. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do need to show you have a good understanding of how and when to use polite Japanese. 

Having a clean and tidy appearance is important, as is wearing the right clothes. You can read more about how to dress for a job interview in Japan here.

Show up to the interview early, by at least 10 minutes. 

Entering the room

When it’s your turn for the interview, don’t just open the door and walk in. Knock three times first and wait for a response. Once you hear, “Dōzo”, then you can say:

Excuse me.

And then enter the room. Make sure to close the door quietly and bow to your interviewers. Don’t take a seat immediately – instead, stand next to the chair and introduce yourself. Usually, you would say the following:

Kyō wa ojikan wo itadaki, arigatō gozaimasu.
Thank you for your time today.

_______ と申します。
_______ to mōshimasu.
My name is _______.

Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.
Nice to meet you/thank you for looking after me.

Make sure to bow after you finish speaking and only sit down once the interviewer indicates for you to sit. While seated, have your back straight and avoid crossing your arms and legs.

Students sitting at a table in a work/interview situation.

During the interview

There is a vast array of questions that your interviewer could ask you and every interview is different. So for this article, we’re highlighting some of the most basic Japanese words and questions you might encounter in a job interview.

Questions in Japanese you might expect at a job interview

Itsu nihon ni kimashita ka?
When did you come to Japan?

Itsumade nihon ni sumu tsumori desu ka?
How long do you plan to stay in Japan?

Dōshite tōsha/heisha de hatarakitai no desu ka?
Why do you want to work for this company?

Tenshoku katsudō wo shiteiru riyū wa nan desu ka?
Why are you looking for a job?/Why are you looking to change your job?

Tōsha de tassei shitai koto wa nan desu ka?
What would you want to achieve at this company?

Basic vocabulary

Education background.

Shokumu keireki
Employment history.




Curriculum vitae/Resume.

Past achievements/portfolio

Finishing the interview

When the interview ends, make sure to show your appreciation for the other person’s time by saying:

Hon jitsu wa arigatō gozaimasu.
Thank you very much for today.

Pack up your things neatly and stand. Remember to excuse yourself with: “Shitsureiitashimasu” and bow before making your way to the door. Bow again before you leave the room and close the door gently on your way out.

Person at a laptop with screen showing the Intercultural Institute Business Japanese online course

Learn more Japanese for the workplace 

If you’re serious about learning business Japanese and understanding more about Japanese work culture, then check out our online business Japanese course. Put together by one of Tokyo’s top language schools, Intercultural Institute of Japan, this course will teach you essential and practical language and cultural skills for navigating the workplace. 

You can sign up for a free one-week taster of the course if you want to try it out.

Learn more about the courses here

More articles for job hunters in Japan

Finding work in Japan is a big undertaking and can be confusing if you’re unfamiliar with the way things are done. Here are some helpful articles to give you more insight:

How to write a Japanese resume

20 common questions to help you prepare for a Japanese job interview

8 things you may not know about Japanese work culture

Working in Japan without a university degree

Finding employment in Japan as a foreigner

Learn more about Japanese culture, life, language and more on our blog.

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