Job interviews make everyone nervous, and especially if you’re interviewing in a language besides your native one. Japanese might seem especially intimidating because of the difference in culture.

So let’s look at some phrases to help you through a Japanese interview, as well as some etiquette to help you feel right at home in a Japanese company.

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Company Interview Words and Phrases in Japan

The most important thing to remember when going to a Japanese interview is politeness. We’ll go over some things you can do to be super polite and business-y in the next section, but here we’ll talk about how you need to speak.

Formal Japanese is a must for an interview. Japanese business culture tends to be very formal and may almost seem rigid to a foreigner. In the U.S., it can be okay to be a bit more relaxed and casual, especially if you can tell the interview is going well. This is almost never the case in Japan.

Using your formal Japanese will not only show your language ability (which they will probably still ask about), but it will also show that you respect and understand Japanese business culture. This can be even more valuable than language ability, depending on the job.

Some useful words and phrases for you to study for Job interviews in Japan.

Excuse me.Shitsurei shimasu.失礼します。
Self introductionJiko shoukai自己紹介
It’s a pleasure to meet you.Yoroshiku onegai shimasu./Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.よろしくお願いします。よろしくお願いいたします。
Do you know…?…gozonji desu ka?…ご存知ですか?
Job descriptionShigoto naiyou仕事内容
To deal/cope withTaiou suru対応する
To apply (for a job)Oubo suru応募する
To resolveKaiketsu suru解決する
To understandRikai suru理解する
To make use ofIkaseru生かせる
To achieveTassei suru達成する

In this list I included several verbs you may notice are just nouns + suru. You may hear these words used as nouns separately, or as verbs like they are here.

What Do These Phrases Really Mean?

Let’s talk about some of the phrases at the beginning of the list. The first phrase, “Shitsurei shimasu” (失礼します) is a pretty important one in formal Japanese. It literally means something like “I’m being rude,” and it is used in an interview when you knock on the door, when you enter the room, and when you leave at the end. It’s also used to end more formal phone conversations.

The other tricky phrase in this list in “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu” (よろしくお願いします). This may be the most important phrase you learn in Japanese, and it is also one of the hardest to translate. If you translate it literally, you’ll get something like “Please kindly,” which doesn’t make much sense.

I translated it here as “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” but I’ve also heard “Please be kind to me,” and “May our future interactions go well.” These sound bulky in English, but they manage to get the meaning across well enough. This is a phrase you’ll want to say at the end of introducing yourself, especially when using more polite Japanese.

The list also has the same phrase, but with “itashimasu” (いたします), which is just a formal version of “shimasu.” You may notice the interviewer using very formal Japanese like this, and it may be a good idea for you to speak with that level of formality as well.

You can also see this with the phrase “…gozonji desu ka” (…ご存知ですか). For you kanji buffs out there, you’ll notice it has the same character as “shiru” (知る) which means “to know.” It turns out, “gozonji” is just a super formal way to say “know.”

A Business Etiquette Crash Course


As I said before, Japanese business etiquette can be a lot different from what you’re used to. Formal language is definitely a part of that, but there are a few other things to keep in mind if you’re going in for an interview.

Bowing is always good in Japan. You’ll want to bow when you enter the room for an interview and before you leave. You’ll also bow when presenting and accepting business cards.

Make sure you keep good posture. In business meetings and interviews, sitting up straight will help show that you are engaged with what is going on. Slouching can be seen as sloppy and rude.

You’ll want to dress conservatively and in more formal business attire. You may notice that Japanese businessmen aren’t exactly known for their bold fashion statements, so you can make a good impression by dressing appropriately.

Job interviews in Japan :Some Final Thoughts

Like any job interview, research is key. Knowing about the company and being able to explain why you would be a good fit is going to be useful for you. A lot of the same rules apply when preparing for a job interview in any language.

That being said, if you’re able to show not only your language skills, but your understanding of Japanese business practices when you’re interviewing for a job, it’s going to be pretty impressive.

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Useful 10 Japanese Phrases related to job interview in Japan