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jakjak4161
February 5th, 2015, 06:49
Hey guys,

Long time lurker, first time poster.
This forum has helped me out a lot during the application process and in preparing for the interview.
Today I just took the interview in the japanese cultural centre in Toronto.

I was interviewed for a full 30 minutes by 2 ex jets who work for the consulate (a white guy and a japanese canadian), and some of the questions they asked were:

Why jet?
what traits or characteristics do you bring to the ALT position?
name 2 famous japanese person.
what else do you know about the JET program?
Jets are sometimes placed in a rural setting, and often times they would be the only non japanese person in the village. How would you deal with this?
What was one of the biggest challenges you had to face in your life/work experience and how did you over come them?
How would you react to different teaching styles of the leading japanese teacher?
I see you are chinese, why didnt you apply to schools in china?

There was more but I can't remember.
They also asked me to do a 1 minute lesson to complete beginners about fruits.
I was cut off half way through, but I did take more than 1 minute. Heck it took more than 1 minute just to learn their names.

They also gave me 2 pictures and asked me 3 questions in japanese and told me to answer them. I got 0/3 because I don't know japanese well enough beyond the simple greetings and expressions.

The questions I asked them were:
What was the biggest unanticipated challenged you guys faced upon first landing in japan as first time jets?
Which received a frankly unimpressive answer of "It was very hot" from one of the guys.

If I started this job tomorrow, what would be something that would surprise me about the position?
At first they turned the question around on me, after a bit of pressing I was given another frankly unimpressive answer of "The class size, maybe?" as the two interviewers looked at each other with a confused expression on their faces like they didnt expect to be asked questions.

Was there anything that I have or havent said during this interview that would leave you to have any doubts as to whether or not I am the appropriate candidate for this position?
They looked at each other again and said nope then showed me out.


And with that my interview was done.

so what did I screw up on?
I couldn't name TWO god damned famous japanese person. I immediately thought of president Abe, but I completely blanked out on trying to come up with another name. As someone who doesnt follow japanese media (mainly because I dont speak the language), I only knew Shinzo Abe's name from world news. I know I am a complete idiot for not being able to come up with 2 on the spot, I can think of several other now that its over and done with. I know it was in the list of questions that may be asked, but I just couldnt pull up any names on the spot.

Also when they asked me what else I knew about the JET program, I blanked out for a bit before saying that I knew jet also offer CIR positions, and its a program designed to bring international influence into japanese classrooms. I don't think they were impressed with that answer either.

These two questions were asked early on when I was still quite nervous, the rest of the interview went smoothly however.

So I guess the question is, am I screwed? I heard the acceptance rate from the toronto consolate is really low, considering there isnt a lot of spots for toronto in the first place.
Would that single screw up not being able to name 2 famous japanese person autofail my interview?
Feel free to respond and reply with your own interview experiences as more of you guys start to take them. :^_^:

Thanks

Jiggit
February 5th, 2015, 08:29
I don't think the naming two famous Japanese people would necessarily disqualify you, they asked me if I'd seen anything in the news about Japan recently and I had to confess that I hadn't. I remember feeling the same irritation as you at drawing a blank on it. I'm sure if we asked you now you'd be able to roll off at least 4-5.

Not knowing about the JET programme sounds like a bigger problem. That really looks poor for a lot of reasons, I'm afraid; again, maybe you just got flustered, but you should have shown that you were interested in the job and had researched it properly.

Those interviewers kinda sound like jackasses, and tbh I'm glad my interviewers mostly weren't ALTs, but for future reference if your interviewer doesn't invite you to ask questions then don't push them to answer a lot of them for the sake of it. Also it's kind of unprofessional to try and get them to hint at whether you got the job or not.

At this point I would put JET into the back of your mind and continue on with your life as usual. Don't assume you got in or were rejected, just let it happen and decide what to do about it afterwards.

Gizmotech
February 5th, 2015, 10:12
Two Japanese people, doesn't sound like a fail to me.

Not knowing other things about the JET programme? That sounds like a decent flub. That being said, you never know. Go have a brew down in the port south of rogers centre, relax, and come back in a couple of weeks to tell us if you got shortlisted or not.

Valkerion
February 5th, 2015, 11:40
Going to ditto the celeb thing, sounds like a perfectly normal thing to not know if you are not into Japanese media. Not like Western media imports tons of Japanese (nonanime) media on a massive public scale so I would not expect people to know any to be honest. Least you did not name random Asian celebs that are clearly not Japanese. Now that would be bad on multiple levels lol.

In general it sounds like you did not do too bad. Sounds kinda like how mine went last week. Lots of the answers I gave felt half explained and thought out compared to what I wish I said/would be a better way to say something. I assume they realize its a high pressure interview for a lot of people and take that into consideration but still, even after a week and talking to others here and on another board who tell me it sounded like I did well, it still feels like I completely bombed it. I half blanked on a bunch of questions too, its just how it goes for some people and sadly... nothing we can do about it anymore.

BifCarbet
February 5th, 2015, 11:47
Nobody has a perfect interview. They know that too. I wouldn't worry too much about your answers. I think they care most about how genuine and capable you are. College grades matter. Your statement of purpose matters. Every part has a certain weight, and you didn't disqualify yourself. Don't worry.

Gizmotech
February 5th, 2015, 11:49
College grades don't matter at all. This has been said more than one time (By coordinators), that the only purpose of the transcript is to prove graduation status for the VISA.

Zolrak 22
February 5th, 2015, 11:50
Meh, I don't know how famous they are, but I'm aware of a few names in my desired field.

I'd imagine things like those is what they are looking for, ways to link your goals with Japan.

BifCarbet
February 5th, 2015, 12:05
College grades don't matter at all. This has been said more than one time (By coordinators), that the only purpose of the transcript is to prove graduation status for the VISA.

Oh. OK. That wasn't REEEEEEALLY the point. I was just kind of trying to say that it's a comprehensive review of your candidacy, not a "do or die" interview.

Really I was just trying to be positive and calm some nerves.

Jiggit
February 5th, 2015, 12:15
I dunno, I can see why people would panic and think "I don't know Japanese pop culture!" but if you think about it they don't have to be actors or pop stars.

Hayao Miyazaki? Akira Kurosawa? I know all JETs are basement-dwelling nerdhermits, but you probably know a couple Japanese sports players or athletes. Especially if you're American. Writers? Haruki Murakami, Natsumi Souseki, Kazuo Ishiguro (I guess he's British)? Fashion Designers? Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto? Hell, even if you are allergic to all non-nerd culture, it shouldn't reveal you as too much of a weeaboo if you say Akira Toriyama (Dragonball), Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo, Mario creator) or Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon). Hell, even if you're just a music nerd, say Yoko Ono and have a chuckle about it.

If I were the interviewer I would probably allow for drawing a blank in a panic, but if you really can't name two famous Japanese people at all... not only does it show a lack of knowledge about Japan, it kinda shows you're not a very well-rounded individual in general.

BifCarbet
February 5th, 2015, 12:21
I dunno, I can see why people would panic and think "I don't know Japanese pop culture!" but if you think about it they don't have to be actors or pop stars.

Hayao Miyazaki? Akira Kurosawa? I know all JETs are basement-dwelling nerdhermits, but you probably know a couple Japanese sports players or athletes. Especially if you're American. Writers? Haruki Murakami, Natsumi Souseki, Kazuo Ishiguro (I guess he's British)? Fashion Designers? Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto? Hell, even if you are allergic to all non-nerd culture, it shouldn't reveal you as too much of a weeaboo if you say Akira Toriyama (Dragonball), Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo, Mario creator) or Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon). Hell, even if you're just a music nerd, say Yoko Ono and have a chuckle about it.

If I were the interviewer I would probably allow for drawing a blank in a panic, but if you really can't name two famous Japanese people at all... not only does it show a lack of knowledge about Japan, it kinda shows you're not a very well-rounded individual in general.

Come on now. Let's be supportive.

mothy
February 5th, 2015, 12:30
The truth is supportive.

johnny
February 5th, 2015, 12:34
I was never asked the question, but I had Abe, Ichiro, Miyazaki, miyamoto, Akihito and Matsui at the ready.

I just got my first Murakami book by the way. I'm excited to read it.

As for the interview, what's done is done.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

A good tip for any job interview is to research the company or organization before the interview.

PuddingHead
February 5th, 2015, 12:42
I just got my first Murakami book by the way. I'm excited to read it.

Which one did you get? An original or is it translated?

johnny
February 5th, 2015, 12:52
Which one did you get? An original or is it translated?

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

My brother loves that book so he gave it to me as a Christmas present.

Also, it's definitely translated. I'm still trying to get through my first Doraemon manga.

PuddingHead
February 5th, 2015, 13:00
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

My brother loves that book so he gave it to me as a Christmas present.

Also, it's definitely translated. I'm still trying to get through my first Doraemon manga.

Yeah, it'll take a while before I'll be able to get through an entire novel.
The first book of his I read was A Wild Sheep Chase. I'll have to give Hard-Boiled Wonderland a shot if it's someone's favorite.

Enjoy!

johnny
February 5th, 2015, 13:05
Yeah, it'll take a while before I'll be able to get through an entire novel.
The first book of his I read was A Wild Sheep Chase. I'll have to give Hard-Boiled Wonderland a shot if it's someone's favorite.

Enjoy!

I'll get to the Murakami book in the next day or two, but I'm not sure when I'll get to the others. I'm reading some history books right now. I'm on a Roman history kick right at present. I'm also reading se books on Japanese history.

I also want to finish Gai-Jin and read Noble House.

Zolrak 22
February 5th, 2015, 13:06
Ever read I am a cat?

I don't know if the original is as amusing, but I quite a enjoyed the translation.

jakjak4161
February 5th, 2015, 13:19
I don't think the naming two famous Japanese people would necessarily disqualify you, they asked me if I'd seen anything in the news about Japan recently and I had to confess that I hadn't. I remember feeling the same irritation as you at drawing a blank on it. I'm sure if we asked you now you'd be able to roll off at least 4-5.

Not knowing about the JET programme sounds like a bigger problem. That really looks poor for a lot of reasons, I'm afraid; again, maybe you just got flustered, but you should have shown that you were interested in the job and had researched it properly.

Those interviewers kinda sound like jackasses, and tbh I'm glad my interviewers mostly weren't ALTs, but for future reference if your interviewer doesn't invite you to ask questions then don't push them to answer a lot of them for the sake of it. Also it's kind of unprofessional to try and get them to hint at whether you got the job or not.

At this point I would put JET into the back of your mind and continue on with your life as usual. Don't assume you got in or were rejected, just let it happen and decide what to do about it afterwards.


I was never asked the question, but I had Abe, Ichiro, Miyazaki, miyamoto, Akihito and Matsui at the ready.

I just got my first Murakami book by the way. I'm excited to read it.

As for the interview, what's done is done.

Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

A good tip for any job interview is to research the company or organization before the interview.

Thanks for the advice guys,

Its not so much that I didnt know about the JET program. It was more of I wasnt sure they were asking specifically with such a general question so I sat there like an idiot for a good 15 seconds, and instead of asking them to clarify or for specificity I just blurted out whatever that came to my head at the moment. As for the japanese figures, I realized afterwards they didnt mean just celebs from pop culture, and as soon as I walked out that door I had names popping up into my head.

I guess I was just pretty dazed for not being able to come up with 2 names on the spot and it just really didnt sit well with my already on edge nerves (these were 2 of the first questions they asked me). It wasnt until they started asking questions about me that things started to normalize

And its also true im not as crazy about japan as some other applicants here. To me japan is just another country with a unique culture I would like to experience, the program being as competitive as it is I guess its a good thing that spot will probably be going to someone who deserve it a lot more than I do :)

Like several people have already said, whats done is done :^_^:
Time to cut my losses and apply for EPIK

Valkerion
February 5th, 2015, 14:00
T It was more of I wasnt sure they were asking specifically with such a general question so I sat there like an idiot for a good 15 seconds, and instead of asking them to clarify or for specificity I just blurted out whatever that came to my head at the moment.

Like several people have already said, whats done is done :^_^:
Time to cut my losses and apply for EPIK

This is what happened to me lol. The guy's phrasing was really general and in retrospect I can think of what he might have meant more specifically, but at the same time as the interviewer he did not correct my line of answers so -shrug- who knows. But yeah I had the "saying something is better than going "ummmm" for a few seconds" interview. I wish I would have said give me a second or I would have to think about it, but instead I just kept saying things without thinking too much or as much as I would have liked.

And ditto for the EPIK thing haha, been mulling that over too.

Apollo87
February 5th, 2015, 14:18
So I guess the question is, am I screwed? I heard the acceptance rate from the toronto consolate is really low, considering there isnt a lot of spots for toronto in the first place. Would that single screw up not being able to name 2 famous japanese person autofail my interview?Feel free to respond and reply with your own interview experiences as more of you guys start to take them. :^_^:ThanksHey Jakjak, fellow Toronto JET here. What's done is done. Congrats for making it to this point and goodluck in the future. I hope you get in. Looking back, how do you think you would have prepared differently?

jakjak4161
February 5th, 2015, 14:37
Hey Jakjak, fellow Toronto JET here. What's done is done. Congrats for making it to this point and goodluck in the future. I hope you get in. Looking back, how do you think you would have prepared differently?

To he honest I could have spent a lot more time researching about japan, I also could have just memorized 5 names going into that interview.
But then again, I would be only doing these things for the interview and not out of any such interest in japan.
I am very interested in teaching and am planning on pursuing a career in education, that is my main motivator for applying to JET, not because I am savvy with Japanese culture or have special sentiments for Japan as a country.

I feel like I definitely should have treated this as a proper interview and memorized some trivia, and if I could go back in time I would totally do just that.
As it stands, I went into the interview with a general idea of the questions but didnt really memorize anything except my own SOP and application, and it served me right that I choked when they questioned me on things related to Japan that I was not completely familiar with.

Mind you I definitely could have answered those questions in a normal setting, but when you are presented with things unfamilar to you in a high pressure setting, you are far more likely to choke.
In that sense the interview did just that.
I showed them my passion for teaching, and talked alot about why I want to go into education as a career, thats the part that went well.
The part that went poorly was the part that actually mattered. They weed out applicants that arent extremely passionate about Japan, or at least the applicants who didnt bullshit their way through their SOP and interview to make it look that way.

uthinkimlost?
February 5th, 2015, 14:45
They weed out applicants that arent extremely passionate about Japan, or at least the applicants who didnt bullshit their way through their SOP and interview to make it look that way.

If that is the root of your worries, don't let it get you down. It isn't at all the case. While there are some people here with a passion for Japan, lots of us just came to try the "new". There's nothing wrong with that.

If you weren't familiar with the materials, then cramming wouldn't have helped much.

"I like Watanabe Ken!"
"Oh, which film is your favorite?"
"... all of them?"

"I'm a huge fan of woodblock prints!"
"Ah, which era produced your favorite works?"
"... all of them?"


As long as you came across as stable and you didn't soil your pants at any point, you still have a fighting chance.

jakjak4161
February 5th, 2015, 15:02
If that is the root of your worries, don't let it get you down. It isn't at all the case. While there are some people here with a passion for Japan, lots of us just came to try the "new". There's nothing wrong with that.

If you weren't familiar with the materials, then cramming wouldn't have helped much.

"I like Watanabe Ken!"
"Oh, which film is your favorite?"
"... all of them?"

"I'm a huge fan of woodblock prints!"
"Ah, which era produced your favorite works?"
"... all of them?"


As long as you came across as stable and you didn't soil your pants at any point, you still have a fighting chance.

Haha I guess you are right in that regard. It wouldnt come off as being very natural unless I was a pretty good actor. Although it definitely would have helped if I could just come up with 1 more name, at least for my personal dynamics when it came answering the the questions that came after that, which is why Im thinking I should have crammed.

Ive pretty much made my peace with it at this point though since there is nothing I can really do :)

As for coming off stable... well...
when we were doing the roleplay mock lesson, there was a period of time when they were both looking down at the score sheets instead of paying attention to me. To which I said "excuse me?" in a very confrontational manner, come to think of it maybe that was taking the roleplay a bit far...

Jiggit
February 5th, 2015, 15:20
Its not so much that I didnt know about the JET program. It was more of I wasnt sure they were asking specifically with such a general question so I sat there like an idiot for a good 15 seconds, and instead of asking them to clarify or for specificity I just blurted out whatever that came to my head at the moment. As for the japanese figures, I realized afterwards they didnt mean just celebs from pop culture, and as soon as I walked out that door I had names popping up into my head.

Yeah that's pretty much what I figured. Like I said, they probably realised that you were pretty nervous, I doubt they'll reject you on that one thing.

Also, take it from the people who live here, they definitely don't weed out applicants with only a passing interest in Japan. In fact we often advise that the biggest mistake people make when applying is believing that they need to come across as the world's biggest Japan authority rather than a normal, professional person who will be able to adapt to life in a foreign country.

Sounds like you might have had a bad interview, or maybe you're overscrutinising the things you've mentioned. Either way, I think you have the right idea; start thinking about other options and if you do get shortlisted it'll be a nice surprise, rather than the end of the world if you aren't. Good luck.

Verbatim
February 6th, 2015, 00:45
Am I the only one that thinks JakJak's interview wasn't terrible? How did you handle it when you didn't know an answer? Were you calm or did you freak out a bit?

If that's the worst thing in the interview, I don't know if that's enough to get you outright booted.

Then again, I don't know since I only recently had my interview.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
February 10th, 2015, 03:03
Personally I don't like that sort of "name two famous Japanese people" question. I know why they asked that, but of course I can't tell you ;)

haitch40
February 10th, 2015, 03:15
Personally I don't like that sort of "name two famous Japanese people" question. I know why they asked that, but of course I can't tell you ;)
I really want to apply for a job as a coordinator just so I know the reasons for questions and the scoring system hahaha.


I am guessing something along the lines of either. Are you a weeb? Or. Have you done any research into Japanese way of life and current affairs?

BifCarbet
February 10th, 2015, 03:27
I really want to apply for a job as a coordinator。。。

Los Angeles is looking. :lol:

MikeCarter
March 26th, 2015, 10:10
Personally I don't like that sort of "name two famous Japanese people" question. I know why they asked that, but of course I can't tell you ;)

I really don't see the point. I prefer to research times/locations and tend to not care about famous people, whether historical or current.

I'm actually curious why you can't tell us as well. The interviews are all done by now, so it's not like the knowledge would benefit us. The knowledge shouldn't benefit the next years, unless the questions will be the exact same.

I think you just enjoy holding all the secrets, haha.

guse
March 27th, 2015, 00:48
I was asked what was so special about my national identity and how I would project that to the Japanese people during my stay. When they asked, I turned into a blithering ball of nerves, struggling to come up with something. After an eternal silence and some stopping and starting, I gave an extremely generic answer about Canadians being nice/accommodating people and how I would try to embody that as a teacher and a visitor. I lived half my life in Scotland, too, and said I could bring that aspect of my cultural background to the table as well.

This question was early in the interview and it REALLY threw me, but I think I recovered OK. I dunno, being a "good person" from a country of "good people" isn't "special" to me. Anyone can be that. How would you have answered? Is my generic answer too generic? I'm still beating myself up about it. :[

taysukidesu
March 27th, 2015, 01:33
While I doubt the questions are the same, the motivations behind asking specific types of questions certainly would be.

haitch40
March 27th, 2015, 17:05
I really don't see the point. I prefer to research times/locations and tend to not care about famous people, whether historical or current.

I'm actually curious why you can't tell us as well. The interviews are all done by now, so it's not like the knowledge would benefit us. The knowledge shouldn't benefit the next years, unless the questions will be the exact same.

I think you just enjoy holding all the secrets, haha.
I am pretty sure it is basically a question of are you a weeb?

johnny
March 27th, 2015, 22:00
It seems strange to me that someone couldn't name two Japanese people. Is knowing Shinzo Abe and Shigeru Miyamoto all that hard?

Gizmotech
March 27th, 2015, 22:03
Dude. Before I came to Japan I could name one Japanese person. And it wasn't Abe.

Also I love that this thread exists here on itil because it never existed on official in the day.

mrcharisma
March 27th, 2015, 22:06
I lived half my life in Scotland, too, and said I could bring that aspect of my cultural background to the table as well.

:[

Petty bigotry, alcohol dependency and self-loathing? Almost any JET past the first 6 months fits that profile so you're good to go.

MikeCarter
March 28th, 2015, 00:32
It seems strange to me that someone couldn't name two Japanese people. Is knowing Shinzo Abe and Shigeru Miyamoto all that hard?

Yes. Yes it is. I only know who Abe is because everyone on here has mentioned him, and I never knew Miyamoto was the creator of Mario until looking it up just now.

Of the people I talked at Toronto when I took my interview, I'd guess only one person had an answer to that question, and it was quite clear she was obsessed with Japan.

Not to mention the variant of the question I got was "name the two most important people in Japanese history, and why", so simply knowing two people wouldn't nearly have been good enough.

weepinbell
March 28th, 2015, 01:01
Not to mention the variant of the question I got was "name the two most important people in Japanese history, and why", so simply knowing two people wouldn't nearly have been good enough.

Oh wow, that's so specific haha. I would have so blanked if they asked me something like that. I don't think knowing or not knowing famous Japanese people would count against you? Honestly, I feel like half the questions they ask are to gauge how well you do under pressure lol. That's my theory, anyway. I had just mentioned in my sop that I became interested in Japan through Japanese music, so they asked me who I listened to, but other than that, nothing - and I'm sure that was mostly to confirm that I could back up my sop.

MikeCarter
March 28th, 2015, 01:31
Oh wow, that's so specific haha. I would have so blanked if they asked me something like that. I don't think knowing or not knowing famous Japanese people would count against you? Honestly, I feel like half the questions they ask are to gauge how well you do under pressure lol. That's my theory, anyway. I had just mentioned in my sop that I became interested in Japan through Japanese music, so they asked me who I listened to, but other than that, nothing - and I'm sure that was mostly to confirm that I could back up my sop.

I dunno really. Most of the questions I got I can pretty easily decide why they would want to ask them. Most questions seemed to have to do with what my expectations and qualifications were.

As odd as it may be, they may legitimately think that's a valid qualifying question.

weepinbell
March 28th, 2015, 02:44
I dunno really. Most of the questions I got I can pretty easily decide why they would want to ask them. Most questions seemed to have to do with what my expectations and qualifications were.

As odd as it may be, they may legitimately think that's a valid qualifying question.

Maybe! But since there are soo many JETs who both knew tons of famous Japanese figures and those who couldn't even name one at the time of the interview... I couldn't see that question in itself being like a 'disqualifier' just because of the diversity of JETs in their knowledge of Japanese culture, ya know? All you can really do is answer honestly and try to maintain composure if you can't name any. I guess we'll never really know if there's a big conspiracy behind it unless we become coordinators. :p