Posted on: March 5/08

Thank you everyone for wishing me luck on the JET interview! Here’s how it went (or what I remember of it…)~

I arrived at the interview location around 10-15 minutes beforehand, and signed in at the reception desk. They found my name on the schedule and highlighted it to show that I made it. From a quick glance, I was apparently the last in my time slot to come! :S It seemed like there were about 18 names on that page, but I didn’t know if that was all the interviews for the day. I do know that they held interviews for more than 1 day in Vancouver though…so I really don’t know how my competition looks -.-”

Anyway, there are these questions that I had to answer beforehand to bring all my info up to date. From my initial application, I chose the location to be “semi-urban”, but now that I thought about it, I think “rural” may be a better choice for befriending Japanese people (ie. a smaller community). Since I wasn’t sure if I should put that on the form, I asked the receptionists. They were really nice and gave me directions on what to do. They also asked me the reasons behind my decision. I told them about it and one of them, an ex-JET, shared briefly that when she went to a rural placement, she had a great time too! Then they gave me a free JET calendar and wishing me luck, told me to wait by the assigned interview room in 5 minutes.

I made my way there and found that there were multiple interviews happening at the same time in different rooms. (I think there were about 4 or 5.) There was a chair outside each room where the next person to be interviewed would wait. When I got there, the chair outside the interview room beside mine was already occupied by a guy. Ah~ The nervous atmosphere of waiting. I sat down and waited, watching people go by once in a while, some smiled encouragement at me. The interview in the next room ended first, and one of the interviewers (the Japanese one) came out for a bit. When he passed by me, he said something along the lines of “Just take deep breaths” or “Calm down, don’t be nervous”…that was nice of him! He seemed like quite a friendly guy, too bad he wasn’t my interviewer though. 😦

The interview session in my room finally ended, but I couldn’t go in right away. One of the interviewers (the Canadian one) popped his head out to let me know that they’ll be with me in a bit; it seemed like they need to have mini post-interview meetings. So after a couple more minutes, they finally invited me into the dreaded interview room…

He told me to put my stuff on a chair on the side and proceeded to introduce the 3 interviewers around the table. And let me tell you, the set-up was very intimidating ><” Please excuse my crappy Paint diagram, haha!

JET interview
The green is the Canadian interviewer from the Consulate of Japan. The purple is a former JET participant. The red is the Japanese interviewer from the Embassy of Japan. And then there’s little me facing all 3 of them. Kowee~

They started off by telling me that the interview will last 20 minutes (Me: only?!?!) and then laid out the general structure,
saying how these questions must be asked to ensure fairness to everyone, blah blah. So then it began.

I’m sorry I can’t remember all the questions that they asked, but from what I do remember, I will write down here~

1. Why do you want to go to Japan and teach English?
The culture fascinates me…I would LOVE to get a taste of living in Japan…For Japanese kids to learn English, it’d be really beneficial…etc.

2. Do you get homesick?
Yes, but just last month, I had the chance of living by myself for a month. During that time, I even gotten sick, but I survived on my own quite well, so I think I should be ok…

3. So you have never lived by yourself before?
Err…not for an extended period of time *sweat*

4. Tell an incident when you had to explain something (?) *I can’t remember the exact question, but I told the following story*
When I worked at the bank, many times I have to explain to customers how the bank regulations work and why sometimes it’s not possible to do what they asked me to do. At times, some customers would get angry too, so I tried to explain it to them by stating the reasons, but it’s hard to get through to them sometimes…

5. Tell an incident when you had a hardship.
I had a job once, teaching netball to children’s day camps all over Vancouver. It was hard to find many of the locations because I have never been there before. And I was trying to look for the places while having to drive…

6. How did you overcome it?
I looked up the locations on the map each time before heading out.

7. How would you spark interest/bring over North American culture (?) *I can’t remember the exact question, but I mentioned the following*
I would introduce foods like pancakes, hotdogs, etc. I’d let them have a chance of cooking it in class if possible…

8. Which famous Canadian would you introduce to your class?
(This one stumped me, but I ended up saying the first name that came to mind)
Margaret Atwood, because she’s a famous Canadian writer. It may not be TOO relevant to them at their English levels, since I studied her works myself, but if any of them were to pursue English literature further., then maybe… *sweat*

9. What objects would you bring to represent Canada?
(This one stumped me too ><)
I guess the usual Canadian symbols, like the Canadian flag, maple leave, maple syrup…etc. I would like to show them animals like the beaver and such, but obviously that is impossible, so maybe photos of them…Nature shots would be good too, and maybe snow sports like snowboarding…but then again, they may do that in Hokkaido too…
(From his expression, I think I bombed this one 😦 )

10. If you had a student in your class who was not really participating, how would you handle it?
I would first talk to them individually to see if they are having trouble understanding the material, because kids tend to do that if they are lost. Then I would give them lots of encouragement and show that they can do it. I’d try to get them interested. Overall, I’d like to be more of a friend to them instead of a teacher’s position.

11. If you had to teach them an English song, how would you do it?
I would first write out the lyrics of the song and read it over with them and give the explanations. Then I would ask them to repeat it line by line after me. I would play the song for them to listen, and point out key points to note during the song. For example, at this high note is where this word is sung, etc. Then I would get them to try it with me and since practice makes perfect, we will sing it over and over.

12. Why did you choose Chiba prefecture on your application form?
One of my main goals for being on JET is to improve on my Japanese. I’ve done my research and found that there’s dialect in MANY places in Japan. I want to learn more standard Japanese, so I want to stay in the Kanto region.

13. You wrote on your application that you knew some Japanese, can you please do a self introduction in Japanese.
(I was TOTALLY NOT PREPARED to do something like this, and did NOT review my Japanese before I came ><)
はじめまして。サラと申します。えと。。。刺身とすしが大好きです!(Smiles from him! やった~) あの。。。今二十一。。。二十二歳です。お誕生日は一月三十日でした。
(I can’t remember what else I said, but they were all short, simple sentences…and I could do SO much better than that!!)

14. So have you ever considered applying for the CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) position as opposed to ALT (Assistant Language Teacher)? *CIR requires a “functional command of Japanese”, fluent enough to perform translations and interact in a Japanese office environment. ALT, on the other hand, needs no Japanese knowledge at all~ (Hence I did not review my Japanese for the previous question -.-)*
I definitely did consider CIR. However, I don’t think my level is quite up to par just yet. I have tried doing some of the question of past JLPT exams and found that I’m probably between a level 2 and a level 3. And the CIR position requires at least a level 2, right? I think maybe after a year in Japan, I may be able to…

15. How does JET fit into your future plans?
Right now, I’m at a stage where I’m just about to graduate, and I’m still unsure about what I want to do with my future career yet. I really like Japan and I’m exploring my option of maybe living there one day. Being on JET would help clarify and answer many things about living and working in Japan.

16. On both the application essay and in this interview, you’ve mentioned about “living” in Japan…
Yes, many things about Japan really fascinates and interests me, so I’m really considering living there one day. Right now of course, I’m still not certain, but it’s definitely something I’d want to look into in the future.

17. You do know that you can extend your JET placement to more than a year, right?
Yes, I do know that ^^

18. How would you respond if Japanese people come up to you and ask “So you are from Canada? How come you look more like us and not Canadian at all?”
I’d explain to them that Canada is a very multicultural country, something they are lacking in Japan. Although I was born Chinese, I moved to Canada since a young age and I consider myself fully Canadian. I would like to bring over this idea of multiculturalism to Japan.

19. Do you have any questions for us?
Actually yes. I’ve been thinking about changing my placement preference of “semi-urban” to “rural”, because I want to make Japanese friends there. I hope to be able to blend into their community more so over hanging out with fellow JETs, and I think that’d be easier in a rural setting. Should I include this change on the question form?
You should email the consulate of Japan in Vancouver and let them know.

    At the end of the interview, I shook hands and thanked each of them. The Japanese interviewer said to me “Ganbatte kudasai”, to which I replied “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.”~

    Post-interview thoughts:
    I guess I did okay. Definitely NOT the best interview I’ve had, but I’ve gone through worse ones before too.
    I think I impressed them mainly with:

    • My interest to stay long-term in Japan
    • My wish to learn standard Japanese in Kanto

    I don’t think I made such a good impression with:

    • My blanked-out, quickly-thinking-on-the-spot moments, with lots of “umm…”s and “uhh….”s
    • I totally lost my train of thoughts in the middle of answering one question ><“
    • My Japanese

    Although for the last point, I’ve heard it can swing both ways. They may also want people who are not so good at Japanese, since this position is for teaching English afterall. But then again, knowing some Japanese will no doubt be beneficial to adjusting there…Having him ask me that question about the CIR position after hearing my rather simple self introduction, that really surprised me and boosted my self-confidence! Maybe he could see past my nervousness and decided to cut me some slack. 😛

    And about emailing them to tell them my change of preference from “semi-urban” to “rural”. I never did it. LOL~ Because there is a larger chance of them placing me in a less urban location already… So I’ll just see what I end up with if I get in.

    Anyway, I’ve been told that who gets in is actually very subjective, so how my interview went may not be THAT big a deal. Thanks for all your encouraging words like “I’m sure you’ll get in” and such. But right now, I think I’m just not going to dwell on it any longer and wait until the results are released in April. If I believe that I got it and ended up otherwise, I’d be crushed. So no expectations = no hard feelings. Yep, that’s the way to go.

    As Hannah has said to me: “If God wants you in, you’re in“. I can’t agree with her more~


    7 Responses to "日本に行くぞ~4"

    i think u did well ne~ now juz got to wait for the results 😀 all the best ne!! *hugs*

    It seem slike the interview went well, you may surprise yourself.
    I hope the results say you got in, but you’re right too, definately don’t dwell on it. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

    LOL I already heard about your experience, I just wanted to say I really like your haircut…
    I didn’t get a chance to tell you on sunday and you dissappeared before I reappeared HAHA

    Heya Sarah-chan,

    You did great by the sounds of it! And, by the way, for them to ask you if you ever considered being a CIR, they must have been very impressed with your Japanese ability.

    All the best to you, and give Chiba my love! I lived there for my year on JET, it was awesome.


    A genuine THANK YOU to all of you! ^^
    *fingers crossed, waiting for the results to be released in April…*

    Was it Steve from the Consulate who interviewed you? 🙂 He’s pretty nice!

    Ah, no~ It wasn’t Steve who interviewed me. I don’t think he does interviews…his job is to promote JET more so than choosing the candidates.
    I agree with you though, he was nice! I met him way back at the JET info session when he gave the presentation…

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