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strangest question ever asked at an interview

lilacrespo

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Hi all,
I just registered to this forum although I've been browsing its posts for a while. Seems like a nice community -yoroshiku!
I'm currently teaching English and Spanish to Japanese people, but intend to get a full-time job in the near future. I can speak Japanese fairly well, including business lingo, and just got my 2-kyu.
The other day I had a phone interview with a Japanese guy (sounded like middle-aged man). I clarify that I went to a "Hello Work" Agency and the phone conversation was arranged by an officer there. Everything went more or less okay, like a normal interview in Japanese, but I was shocked when the man asked me the following:
Do you intend to stay in Japan permanently, and have family?
I simply refused to answer that, and politely said "excuse me, but what does my personal life has to do with my skills for the job?" He was said that he needed someone long-term, not like many foreigners who stay 1 or 2 years and then fly out. Then I told the Hello Work officer that I didn't want to go on with that company.
Now, it occured to me to ask other job-seekers in this community:
- What's the strangest or most surprising question that an interviewer in Japan asked you?
- How did you answer it?
I'm also curious to hear other people's experiences in terms of "culture shock" as a job applicant.
Thanks in advance for reading my long post.
:)
 

KirinMan

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Do you intend to stay in Japan permanently, and have family?
I simply refused to answer that, and politely said "excuse me, but what does my personal life has to do with my skills for the job?" He was said that he needed someone long-term, not like many foreigners who stay 1 or 2 years and then fly out. Then I told the Hello Work officer that I didn't want to go on with that company.
and
I'm also curious to hear other people's experiences in terms of "culture shock" as a job applicant.

Why where you surprised at this question? Did you feel "culture shock" because the man asked you if you planned on staying in Japan? Or the part about the "family?

I've had interviews stateside that asked me something a bit different but similar as in "What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on staying with this company after you finish college?"

If you stop and think about it, it is hard to blame a guy for asking a question like that, particularly if he has had experience with foreigner's leaving after a year or two.

If I was interviewing you for a job here, I'd probably ask you a similar question if I was looking for someone to hire permanently.
It's common sense.:)


While you're at it could you please update your profile, this is how it reads;

Country/State of residence:
Japan
Length of stay in Japan:
Never been to Japan
Gender:
Female
:)

ANd welcome to the "board"🙂
 

JerseyBoy

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The question OP said seems a normal question to me. If I am a hiring manager, I would like to pick a guy who will stick around (if he/she is not performing well, then, I will let his/her go). The turn over costs money and time for many companies. If you cannot stand that type of question during the job interview, quite frankly speaking, I think you would have a difficult time finding a full time position (if not impossible).
 

Glenski

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If you were offended at that simple question (and legitimate reason), then you are in for a world of hurt here. Get a thicker skin.

Marital status sometimes gets you a larger salary. Same with kids. People are going to ask you those questions and more. Just wait until you get asked "Can you eat Japanese food?" or "Can you use chopsticks?" for the zillionth time.

The market is full of teacher wannabes, most of them unqualified newbies. This guy sounded like he was sick of those and wanted someone who would actually stick around. Tenure is rare here. You blew it.

Strangest question I was ever asked was not for an EFL position, but for a research lab job. They (government workers in charge) asked me what my parents did for a living, as if that had anything to do with getting hired.
 

KirinMan

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Strangest question I was ever asked was not for an EFL position, but for a research lab job. They (government workers in charge) asked me what my parents did for a living, as if that had anything to do with getting hired.

😲 So did you answer......:devilish:

For some strange reason I get the feeling that the OP is not going to come back here and reply anyway....well I hope she does though.:)
 

Mike Cash

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Do you intend to stay in Japan permanently, and have family?
I simply refused to answer that, and politely said "excuse me, but what does my personal life has to do with my skills for the job?" He was said that he needed someone long-term, not like many foreigners who stay 1 or 2 years and then fly out. Then I told the Hello Work officer that I didn't want to go on with that company.

That's your perfect right. But there was nothing wrong with the question. The simple fact is that most foreigners are here short term, with very few staying beyond three years. It is perfectly reasonable for a company, which will have some investment of time, money, and energy involved in merely employing you to want to know if you're going to at least stick around in the country long enough to make it worth their while to bother with you in the first place.

Now, it occured to me to ask other job-seekers in this community:
- What's the strangest or most surprising question that an interviewer in Japan asked you?
- How did you answer it?
I'm also curious to hear other people's experiences in terms of "culture shock" as a job applicant.
Thanks in advance for reading my long post.
:)

I've probably interviewed or sought interviews with more Japanese companies than just about anyone here, I would guess. I've never had any questions I would consider unreasonable from the employer's point of view.

I have had numerous companies refuse to give me an interview at all, merely because I am not Japanese, despite having professional licensure and job experience in my field, both obtained in Japan. And I've had numerous interviews where it was pretty obvious from the time I arranged the interview that they weren't going to seriously consider me and merely went through the motions of interviewing me. The most interesting one was one where the man on the phone who agreed to interview me didn't realize that I was not Japanese. When I walked in and announced that I was the person who had phoned for an interview, he blurted out, "You're a foreigner! We can't use foreigners! We haul foods!"

If you expect to interview with and eventually be employed by a company in a type of work outside the normal activities engaged in by foreigners, my strong suggestion is to develop a very thick skin. You may be familiar with the expression, "A woman has to work twice as hard as a man to be thought half as good." Reword it to, "A foreigner has to work twice as hard as a Japanese to be thought half as good" and you won't be far wrong.
 

DoctorP

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I understand the concern about the question, it is against the fair hiring practices in effect in the US. However, there is no problem with this question in Japan. And I, like many others have no problem with the question, but I also would not object to being asked the same question in the US.

Strangest question I was ever asked? What salary do you expect to earn? The reason it was strange is because the salary was advertised. What was I supposed to do? Try to be the low bidder?
 

Ewok85

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I was asked the very same question, and wasn't offended in the least. Heres how it went for me:
"Do you intend to stay in Japan permanently, and have family? You see, its a 6month contract, which we can extend, and if we like you we can make you seishain (company employed, not contracted)" - being seishain being something very, very good.

They are willing to hire me for a long time, provide me with a very good salary, bonuses, training, and many other things, but only if I will be here for the long haul. If I left after a year or 2 I take all that they have given me, and take it somewhere else, meaning the company has to find someone else and start from square one again.

Its a valid question if you have not been in Japan a long time, and refusing to answer will only make the employer think you are not serious, just in Japan to play, and possibly leave at any time.
 

Mr Man

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If I had a business and was hiring foreigners, I would probably ask that very question. I don't think he was being over the top, he was just trying to confirm how long term you might be. A lot of Japanese have been "done" by foreigners who skip the country leaving behind a mess of debt etc to be cleared up by them. I'm surprised that you have attained such a grasp of their language while managing to be so insulated from the realities of interaction with them. I would say, just answer the question! What's wrong with being a little personal? Most Japanese prefer to have a company atmosphere similar to a family....go with it!

Anyway, the question that got me was, "Are you a heavy drinker?" I thought for a bit and answered, "......no?..." Apparently it was the wrong answer, but he hired me anyway! LOL
 

Ewok85

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Hmm, that would have been the only question that seemed weird.
"Do you smoke?"
"No"
"Drink?"
"Yes"
"Right, thats fine with me 👍 "
 

Glenski

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Obeika,
With a room full of interviewers staring me down, half with friendly faces, and half with stone faces, I shrugged after a long pause, and said, "I don't see what this has to do with me getting the job, but..." and I answered.

Yes, I got the job.
 

KirinMan

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Obeika,
With a room full of interviewers staring me down, half with friendly faces, and half with stone faces, I shrugged after a long pause, and said, "I don't see what this has to do with me getting the job, but..." and I answered.
Yes, I got the job.

Next time I'll try and remember your reply as well......🙂 :)
 
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