My First Japanese Job Interview for the Coming School Year

By Donnie | Articles

Okay, so I had my first job interview with a company called Heart English on December 6th, 2010. All in all…it went pretty well. This was the first time I’ve ever done an interview via Skype, but it worked out. Starting off, things were a bit rocky because my cell phone was in drive mode. So when my interviewer called my phone, he got the “this customer is driving” message. As a result, I missed two, back-to-back calls from my potential employer. Once I had a chance to look at my phone, I called Mr. Phillips on Skype, immediately. So my interview started off with a sincere apology for missing the initial call (not exactly the best way to start an interview). From there things were smooth. Initially it was small talk, and job details. I learned that Mr. Phillips actually lived in Georgia for a while, which was pretty cool to me. After we got through the initial formalities and job information, I had a chance to answer some classroom situational questions.

Situation 1: You are in an elementary school class and today’s lesson is about transportation. How would you effectively teach kids a lesson on transportation?

Though I can’t remember my exact answer. I said something along the lines of appealing to all learning styles: visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners. I would introduce vocabulary and concepts using pictures, call & repeat, this would engage the minds of both the visual and auditory learners. To reach the kinesthetic learners, I would do a game where kids physically have to work on getting from point A to point B, either through board game, or a life-sized board game (using the students themselves).

Situation 2: You are in a junior high school class this time, and the class is nearly over. Unfortunately, the teacher doesn’t know exactly what to do for the last 10-15 minutes of class. Imagine this is also a lesson on transportation. How would you teach the junior high children? (You do have a whiteboard and markers available to you.)

I responded with by saying I would use the whiteboard to create a makeshift map. And make it into a class game. I would have one student come to the board, and have the class try to guide him from one point to the other one the map.

Of course during the phone interview I tried to elaborate a bit more, but those were my general answers.

After doing the situational questions, Mr. Phillips had one of his Japanese staff members get on the phone and ask me some questions in Japanese. It’s one thing when an foreigner is asking questions in Japanese, but entirely another when the person is an living , breathing native speaker. I can’t remember all of the questions she asked me, but I do know I had to say “もういちどいてください (Mou ichido ite kudasai),” which means “Could you please say that again?”, several times. I felt a little embarrassed about having to ask for repetition over and over again, but I wanted to show them that I could answer all of the questions in Japanese…and I did. Again I don’t remember the questions exactly, but most of them were questions regarding my resume, and I was able to comprehend and give basic answers to each and every one. After the Japanese question and answer session, my original interviewer returned to thank me for taking the time to interview, and that was it. In total, it took about 25 minutes.

Keeping my fingers crossed…

Donald Ash

The following two tabs change content below.
  • Beencento

    Dear Mr. Ash,
    Good luck with Heart School.
    I have worked for them for 2 years now, and while it hasn’t been 100% perfect, it has been a great experience overall.
    I read a few negative reviews from several years ago, but at this point, the company has ironed out those wrinkles.
    I gave up a university teaching and government scientist position to get away from my ex wife and moved here to Japan on a whim, but Heart School helped turn it into one of the best decisions I ever made.
    Needless to say, my demographic is a little different from the typical fresh out of college frat boy, and that might be why Heart School was so interested and helpful to me, but you seem like a great guy, and I think this might be a good opportunity for you too.
    I also get to teach guitar and science in my school, I am a member and instructor for several community and prefecture organizations, and I have private tutorial students on the side.
    Life is what you make of it and Heart School gave me a chance to bounce back from some dark times and shine once again, so I think it would be easy for a straight up fellow like yourself to have a great experience with this company.
    Tell them you want to work in Tohoku.
    Ganbare !!

    • Donald Ash

      Beencento, thank you so much for the details about Heart English. You’re timing couldn’t be better. I have been trying to figure out the whole job situation and had been wanting to talk to someone who worked for Heart English. You’re the first person I’ve encountered who works for Heart. I am looking at several different companies and Heart, of course, is one of them. Thank you for your candid critique of Heart English. Even the best of companies won’t be perfect, right? Cool.

      I will keep you posted on how it’s going. I really appreciate you telling me your story. Thank you!

  • ban

    pretty impressive responses.

Read previous post:
Living In Japan: “When Are You Coming Home, Donald?”

It’s been two years, ten months, and thirty days in Japan, and I just can’t believe that another year is...