Finally you’ve managed to sit at a job interview in Japan!
A job interviewer in Japan has started to talk about something unusual. He has begun describing business practices of his company honestly to avoid expectation gaps with the job applicant.
His company has lost non-Japanese engineers one after another. So he is venturing an unconventional, risky way after a long debate with the President who gave a greenlight finally.
The job interviewer started the honest conversation with “In our company …”:
Let's be honest.
Do you still want to work in Japan ... or are you inclined to look elsewhere?
Obviously your reaction is understandable and would be common perhaps...from the work styles and values in both East and West.
But may I suggest to you to try a trick before you give up like most uninformed job applicants do?
Ask the rationale for or even possible
benefits of some of the practices that
sound important to you!
Ask the rationale for or even possible benefits of some of the practices that sound important to you!
If the interviewer mumbles and fails to offer reasonable answers or even starts getting angry about your unexpected inquries, then, you should look elsewhere right away. Such companies will become extinct anyway in this War for Talent! They are the ones that have been dwelling on archaic business systems that have passed the best-before date long time ago.
If he can answer your questions passionately by combining pros & cons of common (global/Western) work styles and positive meanings of their practices and underlying work culture, then, this is it! You must jump in! Such a company will be a rarity, I tell you, but, still it's worth testing it.
I have created this list to firstly showcase typical work styles in Japanese companies to minimise your expectation gaps, and secondly, to remind Japanese readers of the need to review the original meanings of the way they work. To me, Japan's work style contains a microcosm of alternative life values, secrets of healing conflicts that could lead to the joy of diligence and labour.
They are not archaic. They are the treasure ... contained inside the treasure box. While too preoccupied to go after the "global" trends, Japanese leaders have neglected to open the treasure box, find the ones that are still glittering and put them under a spotlight. How about the ones that have lost the glitter from any angle you look? They should dump them right away.
It is foolish to adopt business practices just because they are popular temporarily during a few decades of globalisation. It is even more foolish to abandon time-tested values and culture that have been bred in the soil for centuries. World cultures sparkle because of diversity. Then, why not a unique alternative work culture...however unpopular it may look?
Go see my list again. Ask yourelf if you are the rare bird who is willing to search and appreciate those rare treasures. I said "such a company will be a rarity". Japanese are not trained to explain their thoughts in words (that's why they don't fight to win arguments like English speakers do. Okay, this is for another blog). Therefore, although it is the employers' job by right to do so to keep talents, practically speaking, it will be your job to adapt to their work styles by acquring communication skills.
That will be 10 times faster than waiting for Japanese to strike a fine balance between excavating their culture and transforming it into what feels comfortable by non-Japanese. Of course you know (I hope) that, behind the scenes, the so-called crosscultural consultants in/outside of Japan are trying their best to coach Japanese to become better communicators.
Do you still want to work in Japan? Thanks for reading. Will write another piece soon.
*Please know my training & coaching programs at Success Japan Initiative: https://www.successjapanseminars.com/