How is Engineer Job Interviews in Japan?

How is Engineer Job Interviews in Japan?


Information Technology (IT) is one of the most popular job sectors for foreign nationals. Many Japanese companies from leading corporations such as Rakuten and LINE to small and medium sized companies are actively hiring foreign IT professionals such as software engineers, web developers, game designers and so on, making this one of the most common jobs for expat community here.


That said, even when you have an IT background and experiences under your belt, getting a job in a foreign country is not an easy task. If you passed the application screening, congratulations! Yet, the hardest part must be the interview process. Although IT job interviews differ from companies, they share some similarities. Unlike in many European countries where a phone interview is not unusual at all before you can get an in-person interview, phone interviews are not common. Even during the coronavirus period where most face-to-face interviews were restricted, Japanese employers still preferred video interviews on Skype and Zoom instead of phone interviews. 


As mentioned above and maybe you guys already know, the number of interviews are not always the same between companies. However, 3 rounds of interviews is what you are likely to have. 




Round 1: Non-technical interview. 

At this stage, you will go through a very typical interview that job seekers in most industries are expected to have too. The recruiter will ask about your backgrounds, including experiences, accomplishments and motivations. What they want to know at this point? By digging deeper into your past behaviours, the recruiter can gauge your abilities, orientation and attitudes toward the company. Here are some examples of questions you might be asked: 

  • Tell me about your role in a project that you were involved in? 
  • Why are you interested in our company specifically? 
  • What would you do to solve a [XYZ]problem that might occurr during a [XYZ]project.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? 

Sounds very similar right? But yes, they exist even when you are applying to a technical job.  


Round 2: Technical assessment. 

Actually, many Japanese companies do not require a technical test (you only need an appropriate background and experiences coding in a language the company uses). On the other hand, many do in order to have deeper insights and feedback about the candidate's ability to the job. The coding tasks, for example, are meant to be as reflective of the real world applications and often include writing from scratch as well as editing existing code. Apart from the technical tasks, the HR may also give you some technical questions, such as: 

  • What type of programming do you have the greatest strengths and why do you enjoy it? 
  • How are duplicates removed from a given array in Java?
  • How do you find the missing number in a given integer array of 1 to 100?

In addition, sometimes, candidates are given a take-home assessment designed to mimic the on-the-job tasks they will be expected to do once hired. 



Round 3: Vision alignment interview (usually with the executives or your future team)

If you are invited to the 3rd interview, congratulations because you are coming really close to a job offer. That being said, never underestimate the importance of the last round because it will be assessed by people who will work with you directly when you get hired. It’s not uncommon that a candidate failed this round because their future manager or team did not feel like he/she (the candidate) fit the culture of the team. 


At this point, the interviewer (mainly a Japanese manager) expects a face-to-face communication skill whether you can communicate smoothly, even in English with the team. You don’t need to be a fluent speaker but you should be able to explain the “what” and the “how” of what you have done or what you want to say in a logical way. This is the determining factor in the interview. 




Although there has been a hiring freeze due to the impacts of the coronavirus at the moment, there are still many companies continuing to hire for IT engineer positions. If you are ready to make a leap for your career by moving to Japan, maybe it’s time to take a look at how interviews for the IT engineer roles for Japanese companies look like to get yourself well-prepared. 


And if you are reading this post, don’t forget to access and reach out to our Career team for job opportunities as well as a piece of advice on the IT job market in Japan.