When having an interview in Japan, as in many countries around the world, I believe one of the most common questions would be something along the lines of “Please tell me about yourself” or in Japanese it could simply be “自己紹介をお願いします”.
It sounds like an easy question, doesn’t it? But there are so many things you could tell them about yourself, your university, your previous job, the projects you are proud of, and so on.
Where should you start? What should you share now, and what should you save for later? And if you are someone who doesn’t like talking about yourself, this can be an especially tricky question!
Well, let’s start with why this question is there.
Normally when the interviewer asks you this question, they're not looking for you to list every skill you have. Most of the time, this question is a way to break the ice and make you feel more comfortable during the interview process, and most importantly, it is a way to check the candidate’s business communication skills.
So let’s keep business manners in mind before thinking about what you should say for this question.
Then here is the next question - how should you structure your self introduction?
An interview is all about the communication between the candidate and interviewers. If a candidate is unable to clearly convey to the interviewers what he/she is talking about, surely the interview would reflect poorly on the candidate no matter how skilled he/she is. Hence how you introduce yourself carries significant weight in the interview, despite primarily being an ice breaker.
It can be difficult to construct an answer from scratch. But you can always remember the following rule -
“Name -> Past -> Present -> Future”
So now we're finished constructing our self introduction!
But what should we pay attention to? Let me give you a few suggestions.
Don’t share too much or too little information.
Too much information would confuse both you and the interviewer. And the interviewer isn’t trying to find out everything about you from this one question. Remember you would still like to proceed with the interview, instead of finishing the talk here.
On the other hand, too little information would make the interviewer doubt your social skill or professional experience.
It would be the best if you could keep your answer in 1min~2min.
Avoid talking about a hobby that might seem to be more important to you than your career.
I can totally understand it if you want to share your hobby which means a lot to you and help the interviewer to know you better. But no employer wants to take a chance on hiring someone who will miss a lot of work or ask for extensive vacation time to pursue their passions outside of work. So it’s better to stick to something related to the job.
Don’t share personal information about your family.
I know some of you come to Japan because of your family. But there is no need to discuss spouses, partners, children, or any other strictly personal information at this particular question.
Be prepared for the follow-up questions.
The interviewer may follow up on your introduction with more questions, so it's important to remember that you will need to support and expand on whatever assertions you make during your introduction.
So be prepared to provide detailed information about any job or project you mentioned in the self introduction.
So that’s all I want to suggest about the interview from the experience of helping lots of my candidates prepare for the interview in Japanese companies.
Hope they can be useful for you and wish you the best in your career endeavours !!