Interview preparation tips for junior job seekers in Japan

Kazuto Sato 11 Oct 2017

After you send in your perfect and polished CV and cover letter, you are invited to an interview. How much time do you spend on your interview preparation?

Recently I found out that many junior job seekers go into interviews inadequately prepared. In my opinion, interview preparation is the most important part of the process, and is the only part that you can have full control over. Speaking from personal experience in Japan, for young applicants in their 20s or early 30s, performance in the interview is more important than actual work experience. When your dream company invites you to an interview, make sure that you don’t blow it.

In this article, I will share some interview preparation tips for your career change.

Be the master of yourself 

You wrote your CV; however, have you read through it properly and tried to put yourself in the mind of the interviewer? Interviewers always ask questions based on the candidate’s CV. Even the most unusual interview styles will use the CV as a starting point. To successfully handle all types of questions, you need to learn about yourself!

Make sure you understand:

  • Motivations for all your job changes
  • Previous work experience and major duties
  • Reasons for career/educational decisions (field of study/study abroad/industry)
  • How you past jobs have contributed to your overall career plan. 

Go through your CV carefully, and try to recall all the reasons for job changes and life choices. However, please note that during the interview you should always verbalize them in a positive way. No one wants a negative person working within their team. 

Write your examples down

In many cases interviewers often ask to provide examples:

  • Examples of difficult situations encountered and how you solved them
  • Examples of big achievements in your career 


Write your thoughts down! Recalling all of your previous experiences can be very difficult. Without careful consideration and planning, these questions can become a nightmare for most job seekers.

  • Put the examples in bullet points on a piece of paper, and practice delivering them in your own words.
  • Remember to summarize the whole story, including the context, your efforts, and the result. 


One example is not enough; construct at least three to four to present to different interviewers and for summarizing difficult experiences and skills.  The manner in which you deliver these examples is almost as important as the content. Try and portray yourself as a logical thinking, with good attention to detail and strong communication skills. 

Do your research and take notes

“Why are you applying to this company?”

We all know this question will come up in an interview, but many of us still find it difficult to answer. Saying “because it is a top-tier company” is not enough. To better answer this question, you will need more understanding of the firm. Don’t worry; it will not be a history test. You are not required to know everything about the company.

Find one or two interesting aspects of the company that fit with your career ambitions. Perhaps the company is strong within a business area that you can convince the interviewer you have a genuine interest in. Perhaps they have plans to grow their business in another area. Maybe you know the company has values that are important to you.  You will find this information from current new articles, the company’s website, or from talking to colleagues and friends (or even recruiters). 

Start preparing when you start your job hunting

Hopefully you are contacted very quickly after you submit your CV. But you will want more time to prepare to bring out the best in yourself, and will try to push back your interview date. However, by doing that, you are allowing the company to meet with more of your competitors, as well as demonstrating low motivation. 

Start preparing for your interview as soon as you decide to apply. Practice with your friends and family. Tell them to ask you the typical interview questions about your background and motivation as well as the more random ‘outside the box’ type questions. Get yourself into the interview mode!  Other than the speaking part, work on your body language, including you facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and smile. Ask your interview practice partner for honest feedback on these aspects. You want to present in a confident and professional manner. 

At Morgan McKinley Japan, we are here to help with interview preparation and provide as much as information about the company and hiring managers as we can. Pay attention to this information, and take notes to help you prepare. For a complete interview guide, please send us your CV and talk to one of our consultants in the Tokyo office.

Check out our Career Partner Hub for professional career advice and more information on interview preparation.

Good luck.

Inspired by content sourced from the Career Partner Hub.

Kazuto Sato's picture
Consultant | Financial Services Recruitment