Teaching English in Tokyo - Conversation School

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan

By Tyson Batino | September 6th, 2019

This article on getting a teaching job is part of our series on teaching jobs in Japan.

Getting a Teaching Job

This guide assumes you know what type of teaching jobs in Japan you want and are now ready to start your job hunt to find a good employer in Japan. If you are not sure what position you want, check out ultimate guide to teaching jobs in Japan.

After finding the right company and teaching position, you will have one chance to persuade a company to give you a chance. Getting a teaching job you love will involve standing out among the other candidates and we will cover the whole recruitment process from applying to teaching jobs in Japan to interview for those positions.

The information in here also applies to part-time English teaching jobs in Japan and for more information on what part-time jobs are available in Tokyo, you can check out our Ultimate Guide on Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo here.

Structure of the Guide

Stage 1 : Researching companies - we assume you have done this stage

Stage 2 : Understanding what employers want

  • Do I need teaching experience?
  • What candidates are English school owners looking for?
  • Teaching certification and certificates

Stage 3 : Writing your resume and cover letter

  • Writing an effective cover letter
  • Writing an effective resume
  • Resume mistakes to avoid

Stage 4 : Interviews

  • What are some good questions to ask employers?
  • What not to do in the interview
  • Understanding the real meaning behind interview questions

Stage 5 : Post Interview Stage

  • What are signs of a good interview?
  • What actions should I take after an interview?
  • How to balance multiple offers
  • What decisions go into hiring a candidate
Teaching English in Japan - Japanese co-workers

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan : Researching Companies

The first step to getting a teaching job is to find a company and position you are interested in. We have created a guide on where to find jobs in Tokyo and what job boards are available for foreign job seekers. We have around 8 recommendations of where you can find a teaching job, but to be honest, we recommend our friends at jobsinjapan.com as they have a good selection of teaching positions in Japan from large corporations to small mom and pop shops. They also include a section that lists companies that hire from overseas and can provide a visa.

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan : Understanding Employers

The second step to getting a teaching job in Japan is to understand what an employer is looking and not looking for from applicants.

You do not need teaching experience for entry level positions

This is a great question to ask employers for English teaching jobs in Japan. The answer will open the window to understanding what type of candidate they are looking for. Most major English schools and dispatch companies in Japan hire people with zero experience nor certification and it is not a make or break point in the decision process. Most of the major companies have an average retention rate of 1 - 2 years and would be unable to fill all their positions if they only hired experienced and certified teachers.

Teaching certificates are not necessary but helps to differentiate yourself

Having teaching certification would definitely help in getting a teaching job. It shows that you are more serious about becoming a teacher than your average Joe in Tokyo. This will also help to prove that you have at least a minimum understanding of English teaching concepts. This article will not go into detail about teaching certificates but the only certificate I take seriously are CELTA certifications which are run by the famous Cambridge University. Be careful of certification mills that focus only on theory and not on actual teaching.

Most major English schools have decent training programs for newbies

All major employers have training programs for new teachers. For English teaching jobs in Japan these programs can range from several days to one week and are designed for people with no experience teaching. They will usually also dedicate a half-day to training you about company policy, but the rest will focus on teaching theory and getting you to do demo lessons. No matter how much training you receive, you will always feel that it was not enough and so 50% of what you need to know you will need to learn on the job or by asking people.

You need experience or certification for higher paying jobs

Private schools, direct hire positions, and companies like Sesame Street Japan and Phoenix will often only hire experienced or certified teachers. They do not want to invest the time and money in someone inexperienced because their customers expect high quality from the beginning and risk losing thousands of dollars by inserting an amateur teacher.  On the other hand, they offer more money and are looking for someone who can stay longer than the average 1-year period and have perks that try to motivate you to stay for a longer term because it is great for customer satisfaction.

Examples of places that offer more money are universities who normally only hire English teachers with a master’s degree. Another example are high level business lessons in Tokyo where getting a teaching job there would involve either business experience or teaching experience because you are teaching mid-manager or higher level people who are paying good money for English lessons.

Teaching English in Japan - Japanese co-workers

Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo

In addition to providing great content and information for foreigners, BFF Tokyo also runs an English language school chain that hires teachers from all over the world - more than 25 countries represented.

Getting a Teaching Job : The Ideal English Teacher

If I had to choose one characteristic for English teaching jobs in Japan, it would be reliability. Most employers already had their fair share of problems created by people who treat working in Japan as a vacation. The main challenge for employers is that the main customers are Japanese and they  expect from you and the company the same things they expect from other Japanese; things like being on time and being polite, attentive, available, and clean. Most companies want someone who will be on time, who will complete the contract and not leave prematurely, and takes a shower daily! One unreliable teacher can cost the company thousands of dollars in losing current and potential students.

Some examples of behavior that is unreliable are being absent without giving the company advance notice, not completing the contract, constantly taking vacations, taking the same day off often, and not teaching the curriculum or type of lesson they expect.

Ideal Candidate for Teaching Adults

The Good Conversationalist and Facilitator

Many of the students who come to English language schools just want to chat. They do not want to learn grammar, difficult vocabulary, or experience anything else stressful – Japanese get enough of that at work already. A teacher who can keep a conversation fun, flowing smoothly, and throw in an occasional laugh will keep students coming back for more.

A good conversationalist is someone who asks follow-up questions, shares occasional stories, and keeps everyone involved. A bad conversationalist is someone who often brings the topic back to oneself or frequently name drops to the extent that people feel that you are not listening to them.

The Teacher

Students want to feel they are learning something. The English teacher is someone who gives them the experience of learning by pointing out student errors and mistakes, writing down new words on the whiteboard, making students try again when they make mistakes, and gives students the AHA moment by giving simple explanations or connecting it to things Japanese can relate to. Even offering to give homework to students regardless of them doing it or not goes to show you care.

Students can talk in English to their foreign friends or strangers if they want a conversation, but what they come to an English school for in many cases is to have a teacher who will challenge them and expand their boundaries. If you understand this, you will be quite successful in any adult based English teaching jobs in Japan no matter what country you are from.

The Professional

Everyone knows at least one person who has hooked up with a student in Japan. Gossip of a teacher fooling around with students can result in an angry Japanese lover storming to the school or students feeling uncomfortable with you. Being able to treat and respond to both male and female students equally will show that you are professional and reliable.

The professional also understands that the company’s number one priority is in pleasing students and has the ability to silence their inner teacher when conflict arises between business and teaching. One example of this is demanding homework from students. The student would learn most from doing homework, but maybe doing homework is not their biggest priority and continually pushing the student may lead them to quit.

Ideal Candidate for Teaching Kids

The Big Kid

The ability to make a complete fool out of yourself in front of kids and enjoy the experience is a key component of success to being an effective children teacher in Japan. Singing a kids song like you love it, dancing and jiving even if you don’t have the rhythm for it, and having the ability to make strange faces and overreactions when dealing with younger kids are some ways to go all out. Kids want to have fun and have a hard time opening up to a stiff person in a suit.

A big kid who is reliable will have an easy time finding a job teaching children in Japan. If you are a big stiff, you should probably look for something in the business English world.

The Chameleon (Adaptability)

The ability to turn your big kid switch on with the kids and turn it off with administration will win you some big points with recruiters. Dealing with an adult employee who is like a child 24/7 (who always want things their way) is draining for a manager even if they are an awesome teacher. Being a professional in the interview and changing to a big kid during the trial lesson and returning back to a professional when dealing with adults is a near guaranteed way to get a position teaching children. Being a chameleon also involves adapting and accepting Japanese rules and knowing when to choose your battles. The foreigner who always complains or wants to go against the standard is not someone most companies want to hire.

Teaching Courses and Certificates

For those who want to give themselves an edge over other candidates in English teaching jobs in Japan, taking a teaching course is highly recommended. However, be careful because there are many crappy certificates and companies out there who are just trying to get your money and provide little for it.

The CELTA and Trinity TESOL are two certificates that signify quality for me. I have hired many teachers with the CELTA certificate and they do an excellent job of training people.

CELTA from Cambridge University - http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/teaching-qualifications/celta/

Trinity TESOL from Trinity College London - http://www.trinitycollege.com/site/?id=293

General advice for taking a teaching course

  • Take courses with a minimum of 100 hours of training
  • Take courses where you do actual teaching and receive feedback

I have interviewed many people who have taken paper courses and have no clue how to teach. My personal opinion is that theoretical based teaching courses are not useful unless you already have teaching experience and are a good English teacher looking to improve your employability. Theoretical based courses cannot teach you the interactive elements of teaching, so I personally do not take them seriously and do not factor them into hiring for English teaching jobs in Japan.

For those who are unable to take a course in person, here are some well-known on-line courses

  1. https://www.teachaway.com/tefl-certification (by University of Toronto)
  2. http://www.onlinetefl.com/

Getting a Teaching Job in Japan : Writing your resume and cover letter

The third step for getting a teaching job in Japan is to write a decent resume and cover letter. 80% of the cover letters I receive really suck and are uninspiring, so when I finally receive one from someone who meets the minimum requirements and actually took the time to look at our site, it is an easy decision to move them to the next round.

For non-native English speakers

In my experience as a recruiter for English teaching jobs in Japan, most of the generic cover letters we receive are from people who are NOT from the US, Australia, UK, and the other so called native English speaking countries. I sympathize because most companies are not open to hiring people who are not from native speaking countries, so you just machine gun blast your resume all over the internet. My recommendation would be to check if the company hires non-native speakers, do some research into them, and then send your cover letter so you can focus on the places most likely to hire you and also distinguish yourself from others.

Getting a teaching job would involve a proper visa to work in Japan. For those looking for a Japan Visa, checking a job board like Jobs in Japan will help you save a lot of time because they have a special section for companies that hire from overseas for English teaching jobs in Japan.

Ideal cover letter length

Keep it two or three paragraphs long. Four paragraphs are too long unless the company is desperate to hire someone, but one paragraph is way too short. Good companies looking for an entry level position hire are satisfied with something two to three paragraphs long.

The first paragraph should focus on why you are applying for the position – and you need to communicate why you want to work at company X and not company Y without mentioning company Y.

“I looked at the websites of many companies and I appreciated the attention to detail you applied to making the website. It looked like your team is passionate about teaching and that is a company I would like to work for.”

The second paragraph should focus on why you are suitable for the position – which is another way of saying why should they hire you. Remember that you are applying for teaching jobs in Japan, so avoid talking about topics that shows that you are not interested in teaching English and that your dream is to do something other than teaching.

Links for improving your cover letter

T Cover Letter : https://michaelspiro.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/the-t-cover-letter-the-only-type-worth-sending/

T Cover Letter Sample : http://www.midasrecruiting.com/Email%20T%20Cover%20Letter%20Template.doc

Common resume mistakes

Resume Mistake 1 : Avoid calling recruiters by their first name until you are hired

If you know the name of the recruiter, do not refer to them by their first name in the header. This can be interpreted as unprofessional by some hiring managers. Refer to them by his or her family name and gender (Dear Mr. Johnson) or (Dear Hiring Manager) if you do not know. For Japanese recruiters, refer to them by their last name + San (Tanaka San) (Miyagi San) – referring to someone by their last name + San is the English equivalent of using Mr. or Miss.

I personally do not mind being called my first name, but even I feel a bit hesitant when someone refers to me by name in the first one or two interactions. The caution comes from worrying if this person will be overly casual in other areas of employment.

Resume Mistake 2 : Stop sending generic cover letters

What is a generic cover letter? A generic cover letter is one that says dear hiring manager and does not mention anything specific about the company and was sent to hundreds of other companies.

If you do send a generic cover letter, the minimum you should do is at least include the company name and include the website. Many recruiters automatically ignore or throw generic cover letters into the digital trash can. It basically shows that you are not interested in that company and only companies who are desperate for staff would respond.

Resume Mistake 3 : Business selfies and other bad photos

Recruiters know when you used your smartphone to take photos because you appeared so close up in the photo. Ask a friend to take your picture  from a short distance or at a minimum use the damn timer to give you some space to avoid the selfie look. Also, use the light feature to create decent lighting. This does not apply for entry level positions, but my general thought for managerial level positions are if you do not know how to do simple camera operations, then you probably may not be able to handle more complex operations. Do not use group photos or travel photos as your resume picture as well unless you are applying for a tour guide position!

Resume Mistake 3 : Using internet lingo and slang

I have often seen fresh graduates use internet lingo and unprofessional English in resumes and email interactions. Examples of this include internet lingo like “i c” “gr8” and unprofessional English like “wicked” and “pimping.” Show you understand the process of professionalism by using proper written English in all your writing interactions. This mistake is funny because you are applying for teaching jobs in Japan.

Resume Mistake 4 : Not Including details the recruiter needs to know

Here is what recruiters want to know before considering someone for an English teacher position. Getting a teaching job would involve understanding recruiters.

  • Contact details and picture
  • VISA type and work permissions
  • How long you plan to stay in Japan
  • What is your nearest train station if you are already in Japan

When under time constraints a recruiter may choose another candidate over you simply because a decision has to be made and the recruiter does not have the time in that moment to search your email interaction for the information they are looking for.

Resume Mistake 5 : Grammar and spelling errors

Most candidates make grammar errors in emails and other documents. Avoid wasting hours making a resume just to have it become worthless because of grammar errors. This advice is on websites everywhere because people still consistently make spelling and grammar errors that could be corrected through a spell checker. This applies more so for English teaching jobs in Japan because your students will notice your grammar and spelling errors.

Use a free grammar checking software or copy and paste it to Microsoft word or google documents. Using a grammar checker is not that hard folks and recruiters commonly complain about how both native and non-native English speakers write emails and send cover letters with a ton of mistakes on them.

Why can a small mistake such as a misspelled word result in me not getting a position?

In the HR field there is a famous expression that says you are only as good as your last hire. A recruiter can hire 5 great people in a row, but lose that reputation with one bad hire. To protect themselves from losing their job, recruiters are highly risk averse when making hiring decisions. For this reason, they use any excuse possible to disqualify a candidate and that includes spelling errors and grammar mistakes.

This is something you do not understand until you work as a recruiter, but 10 - 20% of your time is spent on filtering unqualified candidates because people often give false information or withhold information to get an interview.

Resume Mistake 6 : Not including business achievements!

If you did not learn anything new from this article so far, this should be the one takeaway you have.

In my experience, 95% of foreigners who apply for English teaching jobs in Japan are guilty of only writing their job description when explaining what they did in their previous company. This is important information to know, but it does not tell the recruiter what you are capable of contributing to their company. Use this opportunity to tell the recruiter what you accomplished as opposed to what you were expected to do.

Example 1 : Job descriptions vs Job accomplishments

  • Description: Taught students aged 5-12 English once a week
  • Accomplishment: Achieved a 95% yearly contract continuation rate with adult students

There is a difference between simply teaching students and having your students continue year after year.

Example 2 : Job descriptions vs Job accomplishments

  • Job Description: Made lesson plans for English lessons
  • Accomplishment: Made lesson plans that became the official lesson plans of the school

There is a huge difference between making lesson plans vs making the best lesson plans among your co-workers and being chosen as the standard for the school.

Resume Mistake 7 : Not tailoring your resume for the English teaching jobs in Japan

You can still tailor your resume for the English teaching industry even though you do not have any teaching experience. Since the English teaching industry is about servicing customers, design your resume around how you helped customers, increased customer satisfaction, and reduced customers leaving if possible. Since reliability is a huge issue for hiring in Japan, any chance you can show where you stayed at a position for a long-time or took responsibility for something will boost your chances of finding a position.

Tips for improving your resume

Sample Resume and why it rocks


Resume Checklist



Getting a Teaching Job : The Interview Stage

Congratulations on making pass the tedious process of sending resumes and cover letters. Now is the time to prepare for the interview and your charisma and ability to answer questions is what will help you getting a teaching job.

Those who hire for English teaching jobs in Japan want to know that you consider making their customer satisfied as your number one priority. Questions that show you are interested in the company philosophy, teaching philosophy and priorities, customer base and profile, and characteristics that separate them from other companies will give you a big jump ahead of other candidates.

Here are generic questions I get from almost all non-experienced candidates. Most of the questions can be organized into categories of…you could have checked the website, about what the teacher wants and not what the school wants, and asking generic questions that are not thoughtful or creative.

Unnecessary Questions : The answer is usually on the website

  • How many lessons do I have to teach a day?
  • Do you provide lesson plans and training?
  • Do you pay for transportation?
  • What are the ages of your students?
  • Do I have to wear a suit and tie?

Unnecessary Questions : Generic time consuming questions

  • How many students do you have in the school?
  • How many teachers do you have?
    • Does it really matter if you agree with the mission?
  • Do you provide textbooks?
  • Why do students study English?

Unwanted Questions : Questions that are focused completely on the candidate

  • How does taking time off work?
  • When do you make salary payments?
  • Do you allow staff to date one another? I do receive this one from time to time.

English teacher hopefuls who ask questions that focus completely on oneself on the first interview will only usually be hired by a company with a retention problem. Selective companies do not hire people who focus on these questions because the person applying for the job is mainly looking for a job instead of looking for the job they want. Why hire someone who is looking for a job when you can hire someone who is looking for a job whose career plan or personal goals matches your company. Here are examples of more thoughtful questions:

Teachers and training

  • What separates a great teacher from an average or a bad teacher in your school?
  • What are the main challenges I need to be aware of in my first several months?
  • What part of training do teachers find the most beneficial and why?
  • What additional options do you offer for training after initial training?
  • Why do teachers remain with your company long-term? Short-term?
  • Do you allow interviewees the option to observe lessons?

Teaching philosophy

  • What is your philosophy towards giving students corrections?
  • What is your company teaching philosophy towards using Japanese in the classroom?
  • What is your philosophy towards teacher and student speaking ratios?
  • What is your philosophy towards giving homework?

Schools and atmosphere

  • What are the main reasons why students sign-up with your school?
  • What are the main reasons why students stay with your school long-term?
  • What do most teachers like about working here? What do they find the most challenging?
  • What is your company mission?
  • What separates your company compared with your competitors?

The best way to approach any interview for any English teaching jobs in Japan is to allow them to interview you 50% and you interview them 50% to see if they are a match. Asking penetrating questions is a good way to really understand the company and to give them the impression that you want to do well at the school. You should also balance questions that you really need to know like taking time off and salary with questions that explore if you have the same philosophy as the company. Only asking questions that concern your benefit raises questions on how dedicated you are to make this a win for the company. On the other hand, you have to watch your back to protect yourself from getting into a bad situation.


Let us help you learn Japanese

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Critical interview mistakes that can cost you the interview

Fail 1: Not wearing professional attire.

You would think this is common sense, but some people come with a t-shirt and shorts as a way of showing nonconformity. Save your time by either dressing up in professional attire or not interviewing for a company that stresses professionalism.

You can tell just by looking at their website. If someone is wearing a suit, you should wear a suit as well. If the person is teaching kids, wear a nice polo shirt and khakis.

Fail 2: Not checking the website in advance.

I have interviewed many candidates who did not take the time to look at the company’s website. It was an automatic indicator that the candidate was not going to make an extra effort to learn teaching without being forced or pressured to do it. They could have saved themselves several hours by taking 30 – 60 minutes to check the website.

Many English schools here have pictures about their school and general explanations that give a basic lowdown on what it is like for English teacher jobs in Japan and at their school.

Fail 3: Taking control of the interview.

Many candidates do not understand that the recruiter has a set amount of time for each interview. Making the interview go longer because of constant interruptions, tangents, and questions is a good way to annoy the recruiter and maybe considered as disrespectful.

Let the recruiter take charge of the interview and blast through the details they need to confirm and then use the remaining time to ask your questions. Once the recruiter has confirmed what they needed to know, they will be listening to you with an open mind as opposed to having a distracted mind because they were not able to confirm what they need to know.

Tips for an interview with a Japanese interviewer

  1. Make sure to sit after the interviewer gives you the signal to sit.
  2. Make sure to answer their questions and not ask questions when it is not your turn to. It is considered disrespectful to ask the interviewer questions out of turn.
  3. Dress formal even if a Japanese interviewer tells you not to. I made this mistake twice!
  4. Understand that Japanese look for different things than foreigner recruiters.

Fail 4: Not practicing the demo lesson on another person.

Many applicants mistakenly feel they can just practice on their own and they will be fine. This assumption is wrong almost all the time. Approaching the demo as if you are NOT part of the 5 – 10% of people blessed with natural teaching ability will go a long way. Do not overestimate your teaching abilities and underestimate the amount of skill and experience that goes into teaching. Practice your demo lesson for one or two hours with one person and get their feedback and do the same with another person or group to get another perspective.

Fail 5: Not assuming you are being evaluated all the time by everyone.

The person in the elevator. The staff member who picked you up. Everyone you meet may have a say in you being hired or not. Be polite to everyone you meet and introduce yourself. Fails include hitting on the co-worker of the recruiter, mentioning negative comments to a fellow candidate about the company in the bathroom, and demanding staff to call the recruiter after waiting for 3 minutes.

Fail 6 : Misunderstanding the definition of casual

Dressing casually does not refer to wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and slippers. Come with nice jeans and a polo shirt or dress shirt without a tie instead. I would follow the above rule of thumb even if you are applying for an English teacher position for kids in Japan.

Fail : 7 Coming too early

Avoid coming more than 15 – 20 minutes early because you will be interrupting the staff or recruiter from their normal work flow. Try to arrive around 10 minutes earlier if possible. I personally do not mind when an applicant comes in early, but different recruiters have different preferences and coming 10 minutes early will ensure you start the interview on a high note no matter who the recruiter is.

Fail 8 : Crossing your legs or fidgeting

Definitely avoid overly relaxed or dominant behavior like putting your arms over something or crossing your legs during the interview. Another thing to avoid is crossing your arms and other forms of defensive body movement. The goal for interviews is to create rapport and not distance!

Translating the real meaning of interview questions

Why do recruiters ask the same questions?

Most recruiters in the same industry look for the same things. The same applies to the English teaching industry. Recruiters here look for someone who is reliable and will not break the contract, someone who can adapt to working in a Japanese work environment, and someone who is professional in conduct.

Translations for commonly asked questions by recruiters in the interview :

1 : Why did you come to Japan?

Translation: Are you planning to stay in Japan long-term?

Translation: Do you like Japan enough so that you will not break contract and go home?

2 : Can you speak Japanese?

Translation: How much do you like Japan?

Translation: Are you dedicated and disciplined?

3 : Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Translation: How long do you plan to be in Japan?

Translation: How likely are you to break the contract and run home to your country?

4 : Why would you like to become a teacher?

Translation: How can you benefit our students?

Translation: Do you like helping people? How would you like to help people?

Translation: Are you a caring person who likes to help others?

5 : What do you like about Japan?

Translation: How well do you know Japan?

Translation: Do you have a superficial interest or deep interest in Japan?

Translation: How long does this person plans to stay in Japan?

6 : What do you dislike about Japan?

Translation: Is this person able to see the positive and negatives of a situation?

Translation: Is this person unsuitable to work in a Japanese company?

Translation: Is this person accepting of cultural differences and playing by Japanese rules?

7 : What are your weaknesses?

Translation: This is a question designed to discover your future potential

Translation: Is this person aware of his or her weaknesses?

Translation: Does this person notice the weaknesses that I notice?

Translation : How does this person respond to challenges?

Translation : Does the person make an effort to improve one’s weaknesses?

Translation : Does the person expect others to accept his or her weak points?

Translation : Does the person have a plan for overcoming weaknesses?

Teaching Jobs in Japan - Post Interview Reaction

Getting a Teaching Job : Post Interview Stage

Now you are at step 5, the final road on your journey to finding a teaching job in Japan. You are almost there and do not give up yet. Here are some of our thoughts on how to tell how you did in the interview.

What are the signs of a good interview?

Compliments from the Recruiter

When a recruiter compliments you, you need to listen very carefully to what they are complimenting you about. They could be complimenting on criterion or areas that are relevant to the position itself or not related to the position itself.

Any compliments about how you did the interview is not a guarantee you will be hired, but is an indicator that they either liked you or were impressed by you.

Any compliments about a specific skills needs to be evaluated. If the skill is relevant for the position itself than that is a good sign. I routinely compliment candidates on how well their YouTube channel is doing or their number of Instagram followers, but it is completely unrelated to being a good teacher. However, if I complimented someone on their demo English lesson, there is a good chance that we would be interested in hiring the person.

Any compliments about your work experience also needs to be evaluated. If you are applying for an entry level teaching position and someone compliments your 5 years of managing experience, their compliment may mean “Wow. I am surprised someone as qualified as you is applying for this entry level position.” The compliment is genuine about your experience, but not as someone appropriate for the position on hand.

Signs of urgency to hire you

I have to start this off with a huge caveat because this could be a great sign or terrible sign about the company.

Thinking positively, if you are someone who matches the experience needed, culture and personality of the company are better than the other candidates, the company would allow you to skip their traditional skeptical and cautionary approach to hiring. In this case, the recruiter is like “I want to hire this person before they get hired by someone else and I need to act quickly.”

Thinking skeptically, the company may be in a desperate position and they need to fill in the position as soon as possible. My general thought is that if a company is rushing through the hiring process, 80% of the time it means they need to hire someone quickly or they have a deadline.

Extending the normal interview time

Most recruiters have a set amount of time to conduct each interview based on the position and stage in the interview process. A recruiter extending the normal interview time from the second interview onward is a good sign that they are interested in you for the position. I would discount the first interview because most likely they are being polite in extending the interview.

You can do this by prolonging the interview by asking good questions and ensuring that you have answered all of their questions. At the end of the interview, ask them how long most their interviews go and apologize for making them go past that time. If they respond with a “it’s ok” or a compliment and genuinely mean it, it is a sign the interview went well.

Moving to the next stage of the interview

The sounds obvious at first glance, but applicants will always underestimate how much it means for a recruiter to pass you onto the hiring manager or a higher up level person. If you get the next interview, it means that they are at a minimal somewhat interested and are at least willing to spend several thousands to tens of thousands of yen in labor costs to give you another chance. Most companies are not going to spend thousands of yen in labor costs on someone who has no chance. The worst case scenario is that they like something about you, but there is something that they are suspicious about and need more time to figure.

Spending extra time doing small talk at the end

In about 50% of cases, the recruiter immediately knows if you will get the position or not. If they know they will not hire you, they will most likely not spend a large amount of time making small talk after the interview and move on to the next candidate. Recruiters have to meet a monthly quota and have to manage their time carefully. In the other 50% of cases, they genuinely will not know if they can hire due to factors outside their control or unpredictable situations. For example, having too many good candidates or a popular former employee suddenly requesting to come back.

Getting a Teaching Job - What actions should I take after an interview?

You should always follow up after an interview

If you are very interested in the position, you should contact the recruiter once you reach home and mention why you would like to join that company over other companies. I personally recommend interviewing at least two schools, so when you express your reasons for wanting to join one company, you can use the other company as a basis for why company 2 is more suitable for you. Avoid sending an email by mobile phone and always send important emails by computer.

The above applies even when you have already scheduled the following interview with the company. If you can write a memorable message, they are likely to continue to think about you even after they interview more candidates. Recruiters often remember their most recent interview and they are different from applicants. Applicants will remember the interview with the recruiter more vividly than the recruiter for you. For this reason, sending an email on the same day or one day later is a great way to keep you in their mind.

You should follow up if they do not respond by the promised date

If the recruiter does not respond by the promised date, I would recommend by stating your interest again in the company and give a short follow up by saying something like “I understand that you are really busy at the moment, and I wanted to follow up with the scheduling for the next interview because I am still very interested in your company” and give one short reason.

You do not need to go into detail like the post interview email, but simply show that you are not passive and that you are actually interested in the position.

Teaching English in Japan - Japanese co-workers

Part-Time Jobs in Tokyo

In addition to providing great content and information for foreigners, BFF Tokyo also runs an English language school chain that hires teachers from all over the world - more than 25 countries represented.

Getting a Teaching Job - Balancing multiple offers

This is question is highly contextual based and you would need to read the situation to understand the most probable course of action.

Question : Do many people want to work at that place?

If the answer is yes than that employer probably has a good work culture and the staff are probably satisfied and know the value of working there compared to other places. If this is the case, mentioning that you are considering other places is the equivalent of saying that you are not sure if they are the right place for you. They will probably not wait for you and will hire someone else in the time while you are exploring other options. I need to make the point clear that they will hire someone else whose first option is their workplace. Depending on when you contact them, they may be willing to wait 3 - 5 days for you think about the decision.

If the answer is maybe or no than you have the luxury of juggling two options. Any place that is normal or does not receive many referrals are probably used to hearing candidates mention that they would like to explore other options. They will probably not wait more than two weeks for you.

Tip : I recommend checking out multiple places while job hunting and interviewing at the place you are not as interested in first. One, you get to practice your interview techniques and get some practice before going to the place you want to work at most. Two, you will be able to people the first place on hold as a backup if your first choice does not go through.

Question : What is your skill level?

If you are an entry level teacher (level 1), you can probably negotiate 3 days to 2 weeks. If you are a head teacher (level 2), you could negotiate 1 to 3 weeks. If you are a teacher manger (level 3), you could negotiate 2 to 4 weeks or more depending on your experience. If you are director level (levels 4 to 5 levels), you will have up to 3 to 6 months to think at times because you can change their whole company and they are willing to wait.

The general rule of thumb is the greater the impact you have on the school, the longer they would be willing to wait to give you time to think. Additionally, the salaries and responsibilities are much higher, so it is normal that you would be given more time to think.

What decisions go into hiring someone for teaching jobs in Japan

Hiring a candidate is not a simple yes or no question

The first thing that surprised me when become a recruiter was the amount of unseen factors that go into hiring a candidate. I thought the hiring process was a simple we have an opening and therefore we need one person to fill the spot equation as an applicant. Here are some of the unseen factors that goes into hiring an applicant.

Unseen hiring factors

Factor 1 Internal Preference : We want to interview both internal candidates and external candidates for the position. We have a great external candidate but we are waiting on a good internal candidate and what to do to fill their shoes if we hire them, so we are delaying our response to the external candidate.

Factor 2 Cultural Fit : We want to hire someone that would be a good fit for the manager - this may be different than the type of person I would like to hire for myself as recruiter. The recruiter really has to think if your personality and the team or manager is a good fit and that is not something they can answer during the interview and really need to think about it.

Factor 3 Stability : We want to hire this candidate and they are obviously the most talented, but might be a flight risk, so we will choose the slightly less talented but more reliable candidate.

Factor 4 Diversity : This is more of an American company situation, but companies may have to hit their diversity or gender ratio quotas or else receive criticism from their own employees and by the public and so the decision to make hires is prolonged in an attempt to manage ratios.

Factor 5 Timing : We need to hire someone for the position immediately and we will choose the best candidate available now. Unfortunately, the best candidate two candidates needs us to wait 3 months but we cannot wait that long, so we will choose the third best candidate.

The 3rd situation is one that strongly applies to English teaching positions in Japan and Tokyo and pretty much applies to any companies that deal with foreigners because companies are not looking for people who want to work for one year. They are looking for someone who wants to work for 5 to 10 years and will choose someone who is more reliable but not as talented. Based on my personal experience, I also have that preference as well because it takes a big time investment to train someone and training someone who will leave in one year is not worth the investment.

Summary on Getting a Teaching Job in Japan

Stage 2 : Understanding what employers want

You do not need teaching experience for getting a teaching job for an entry level position, but for the higher paying English teaching jobs in Japan you do need certification or experience. Employers are looking for someone who is reliable and can stay more than 2 years ideally for full-time positions and are looking for someone to be a teacher and not just a chat buddy. As for certificates, stick with ones from major universities or international organizations and avoid the crappy certificate factories.

Stage 3 : Writing your resume and cover letter

Getting a teaching job involves not sending the same cover letter to all companies. If there is a company you are really interested in, spend some time researching more into them and that it is obvious to recruiters that you did not do research on their company. Desperate companies hire desperate people, so avoid entering a company you will regret later due to a lack of research. The most common resume mistake you are making is probably listing your job description as opposed to accomplishments.

Stage 4 : Interviews

Getting a teaching job involves not asking obvious questions that are on the website as to stand out from the millions of others who are seeking English teaching jobs in Japan. Ask questions about their education system and do not be afraid to interview the company. If you are a quality candidate and they are looking for quality people, they will appreciate your time investment in their company. We also talked about the real meaning behind interview questions, so you can understand what information they really want but may not be able to directly ask.

Stage 5 : Post Interview Stage

Context is everything and there is a lot more going behind your hiring decision than a simple yes and no answer. Your interview could go perfect, but getting a teaching job can be much deeper than that because they still might not be able to hire you because of what they are looking for and what you offer. The trick to balancing multiple offers is to know how much leverage you have and how much they can benefit from hiring you. Entry level position candidates have low leverage while level 4 and above employees have high impact and leverage.

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