Congratulations for making it to the JET Program Interview! It’s an amazing feat and you should be proud. Now, let’s rock the interview! Below, I’ve provided my experience with the JET Program interview and some helpful tips you’ll want to keep in mind.
Tip #1: If You’re On Time, You’re Late
My interview was located at the Consulate General of Japan in Miami, which is about a 30-40 minute drive from my part of Miami. Fortunately, I had been to the Consulate and knew where to park. I arrived about 15 to 20 minutes early. You’ll also want to arrive as early as physically possible. In Japan, in your are on time, you are actually late. You’ll want to arrive no more than 15 minute before your scheduled interview time. Please note that you may be waiting before you are called, but they will notice the time you sign in.
Tip #2: Your Actually Interview Starts at the Door
At the Consulate, I chatted with the security guard and the JETAA representative. I even spoke with other interviewees as we waited. As some people put on a great show during their interview, your interview actually begins when walk through the doors, as employees are taking note of your behavior and interactions. In short, talk to everyone!
Tip #3: Know Your Application
The questions were fairly easy to answer, but you’ll need to review your application and statement of purpose. Anything is fair game including questions about diets, tattoos, medications, sexual harassment, etc. I tried to be unique with some of the fun questions. For example, when they asked what I would like do for fun in Japan, I said that I read an article that there may be bungee jumping of the the Tokyo Sky Tree [see article here]. That got a great laugh and it’s probably something different than the usually “climb Mt. Fuji” answer.
To elaborate on the sexual harassment question, I was asked what I would do if, let’s say, a coworker said or did something inappropriate. I took a second to think about the answer and said that it would depend on what was said or done. For example something could have gotten lost in translation or it’s culturally appropriate to ask deeply personal questions. Moreover, I express that if I was ever touched in a way that I felt was inappropriate, I would inform the person that it should not be repeated and then speak with my supervisor about the situation.
Tip #4: Be Ready with a Teaching Demonstration
In their questioning, they asked, “What part of American culture would you like to teach in Japan?” I love Halloween, so they asked for a teaching demonstration to elementary students. It was very awkward to speak to your interviewers as though they do not know English, but the more theatrics the better. I demonstrated how to Trick-or-Treat and gave out candy (actually the whiteboard markers) when they said the words correctly. As dumb as I felt, I’ll admit I did a pretty great job and they were thoroughly impressed.
Tip #5: Brush Up on the Nihongo
The high from my teaching demonstration crashed landed in hell when I was asked to read a short paragraph in Japanese. I focused on pronunciation and flow that I forgot that I was reading to answer a series of questions. They told me it was fine, but I was disappointed.
Tip #6: Dress to Impress
Everyone wears a black suit and you’ll need to stand. Instead of a suit, I wore a long-sleeved, cobalt-blue dress with sensible heels. I also noticed men wearing colorful ties or grey and navy suits (a la featured photo). Have fun with business attire and wear something that makes you feel confident.
That concludes my insight to the JET Program Interview! If you have any questions, feel free to write it in the comment section below!