What's new

Welcome to Japan Reference (JREF) - the community for all Things Japanese.

Join Today! It is fast, simple, and FREE!

Japanese Business Culture

iepke

後輩
Joined
9 Aug 2012
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Hi everybody,

I'd like to learn a bit more about Japanese Business Culture. I'm from Belgian and I'm currently in the process of applying for a job which has a Japanese Mother company.
Now I was wondering about a few things. Could anybody tell me about the Japanese Business Culture and what the possible pitfalls may be for european people when they work together with Japanese people.

Also my next interview is set up to be with a couple of Japanese people, it is for example acceptable that you would greet them in Japanese, to show interest in their culture and language ? Or would they find that over the top or even offensive ?

Thanks
iepke
 

Petaris

Sailing away...
Donor
Joined
3 Aug 2007
Messages
709
Reaction score
337
You can greet them in Japanese. You should probably bow to the instead of shaking hands, unless they go to shake yours. Also if they present you with a business card make sure you put it in your jacket or shirt pocket or in your portfolio/briefcase but under no circumstances in your pants pocket. You should also have a business card to give to them in exchange even if it just has your name and phone number on it.
 
Joined
7 Jun 2008
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
113
You might want to watch the 2003 film "Fear and Trembling" (based on an autobiographical story of the same title) about the misadventures of a Belgian woman who spoke perfect Japanese and tried to work for a Japanese company. A good deal of truth there. See, e.g., Fear and Trembling Reviews & Ratings - IMDb

You'll probably always be treated as a gaijin, not the same as the Japanese employees. One-on-one, most Japanese are great people, but when they're together in groups they can be maddening to deal with.
 
Joined
19 May 2007
Messages
1,648
Reaction score
112
You can greet them in Japanese. You should probably bow to the instead of shaking hands, unless they go to shake yours. Also if they present you with a business card make sure you put it in your jacket or shirt pocket or in your portfolio/briefcase but under no circumstances in your pants pocket. You should also have a business card to give to them in exchange even if it just has your name and phone number on it.
Actually you should put it in your own business card case, or hold on to it until they have gone. Just a thought.
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
20 Aug 2003
Messages
4,808
Reaction score
410
You could greet them in Japanese or English or your own language. They won't expect any Japanese culture to come out of you. They may even expect to shake hands (although they will probably not do it well themselves). I take it this interview is in Belgium, is it? All the more reason to act normally and not too Japanese.

You are asking a rather broad question about business culture. Interviews and on the job stuff are separate things, especially if the interview is not in Japan.

Go ahead and bow a little when you meet, watch their cues and be prepared to shake hands or do nothing more. The interview is likely going to be a panel of people at one side of a table and you on the other (or even at a separate table). Beyond that, go with the flow. As you enter and leave the room, say excuse me and give a short bow if you like. Won't hurt anything.

If they give you their cards, do as the others here have suggested. If you are provided a table at which to interview, lay out the cards in front of you so you can refer to the people by their names more easily. Do NOT use their first names; use ONLY their family names and know which is which! Japanese tend to put family names first on a card (they might be in all caps, but don't count on it).

, it is for example acceptable that you would greet them in Japanese, to show interest in their culture and language ?
Just how did you plan to show this? I would definitely NOT talk about anime or manga or girls! If you have ever been here, say so and in what capacity, then let them ask about the experience. As for an interest in language, they will expect that most foreigners can't speak or write/read it well at all, perhaps even poorly at best. They know how hard it is to learn, even for themselves. One question on my mind would be whether (and how much) you need it on the job, and how much language training you can expect to get. Don't beg for it, though, and if you already sense you will need it, start taking classes yesterday!
 
Joined
7 Jun 2008
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
113
But you can talk about anime, manga or girls at drinks after work. You probably won't be the first one to bring up one of those topics. lol
 

iepke

後輩
Joined
9 Aug 2012
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Hi guys,

Thanks for all the info so far. The interview indeed takes place in Belgium, and the people interviewing me will be Japanese expats currently working in Belgium. By greeting them in Japanese I meant nothing more than a polite "konnichiwa" or something like that, but I was wondering if this would be appreciated or not ?
I have never been in Japan myself, allthough it's on my todo list. So I'm certainly not going to claim I know much about their land or culture.
I just like to come prepared, as I'm quite eager to get this job :)
I've also learned the company language worldwide is English, so nobody really expects you to learn Japanese, but I'm always interested in learning new things, so why not :)

Greetings
iepke
 

Mike Cash

骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう
Joined
15 Mar 2002
Messages
16,455
Reaction score
2,274
"Konnichiwa" may very well be appreciated, but strictly speaking it would be inappropriate in that situation.
 

Glenski

Just me
Joined
20 Aug 2003
Messages
4,808
Reaction score
410
If the company language is English, use it. If you have studied a little Japanese, it might be relevant to let them know (depending on how much and how recently you studied), perhaps at most on a resume.

Just applying for the job is interest enough to get the ball rolling. I'm sure they will ask questions pertinent to any expat.

Examples
What do you know about Japan/Japanese culture?
Can you eat Japanese food? Can you use chopsticks?
How much Japanese language do you know?
Apartments are very small in Japan. Is that ok?
Will it be ok for you to leave behind friends and family? Do you plan to take anyone with you?
Why are you interested in working in Japan?

They will also probably try to feel out answers indirectly to these questions:
How well will this guy work with a Japanese boss?
Is this guy going to get along with co-workers?
Is he too eager in his sincerity (a red flag) and just trying to get to Japan for an ulterior motive?
How much will we have to babysit him on the job and (especially) in daily affairs?
How well will he fit in to our long hours and after-work drinking culture?
 
Top Bottom