15 Bits of Random Interview Advice

If you want to get accepted into the JET Programme, it’s going to take a lot of work. You’ll have to write a killer personal essay, get a couple of absolutely glowing reference letters, and basically be able to prove to them that you’re an upstanding, well adjusted, cultured and flexible young person. Or at least be able to fake it I guess. The interview itself however is a whole nother ball game. On another post, I’ll talk about the first stage of the application, but for now, let’s focus on the interview since in the last post I said I’d write about advice for the interview. Without further ado, here’s the top 15 tips I could think of that really helped for preparation and the actual interview itself.

1. Do lots of mock interviews. As many as you can, with different variations and different scenarios so you dont get screwed even if you encounter the dreaded war tribunal panel. I repeat, the single best way I found to prepare for the interview is by doing tons and tons of mock interviews.

2. To that end, do lots of mock interview lessons. Have your friends throw different interview topics at you then roll with it and create a lesson out of it. Some ideas: holidays, sports, home country, history of home country, household objects, colours, animals, types of clothes, directions, expressions, useful phrases, a song, etc..

3. After you do a few of them, begin filming yourself doing mock interviews and practice lessons. Get over how you sound like on camera lol. Look at your body language, tonality, vocal projection and try to minimize distracting mannerisms. When I did this, I felt like it improved my presentation dramatically as I saw all sorts of little things I was doing that I could improve. Do a few mock interviews in your suit with a panel of your friends/family and have them FILM it. Critique yourself on film. Would you hire yourself for the JET Program? Keep doing mock interviews and watching yourself until your presentation is good enough that you WOULD hire yourself.

4. Think about how you can offer value to the JET Programme, when you’re figuring out how you would answer the interview questions you anticipate being asked.  What exactly would make you an asset as an ALT or CIR. For me, I felt that that being able to offer value as a fun and outgoing person, being open-minded, and being adaptible and flexible are the most important traits you can have. Make sure you communicate that you have these traits.

5. Memorize some trivia and lists. Don’t go crazy, but prepare adequately. Some of the lists I prepared just in case were:
– 5 things I want to do in japan
– 5 favourite japanese foods
– 5 places I want to visit in japan
– 5 things i would bring to japan to represent my country
– 5 things i absolutely would bring with me
– 5 famous japanese people
– 5 famous japanese authors/artists/singers/actors/athletes
– 5 famous canadians
– 5 canadian authors/artists/singers/actors/athletes
– 5 canadian inventions/history events
– 5 current canadian news stories
– 5 current japanese news stories
– 5 transferable skills I have
– 5 positives and 5 negatives that are also actually positives LOL
– self introduction in japanese
– self introduction in english

Notice the differences in the types of lists. You have general trivia and you have things that could be asked in a variety of different ways. For example, you may not be asked 5 positives and 5 negatives, but you may be asked about your perceived strengths and weaknesses. So spend the time to memorize or brush up on some general knowledge trivia, but also think about the types of questions you may be asked.

6. Anticipate what you’ll be asked. If you’ve done your research, you probably have a good idea of what kinds of questions show up during interviews. There are tons of interview questions floating around on the internet in various forums. But to make the best use of your time, you need to be smart and try to anticipate what kinds of questions they would ask you depending on what your weak areas are. Make sure you can back up your weak spots and can confidently shine on your strong points.

7. Look sharp. Suit up. If you’re a guy, wear a grey suit, you’ll stand out because almost everyone will be wearing a navy blue or black suit. Make sure it’s tailored. There’s a HUGE difference between the look of a tailored suit and one that isn’t. Wear nice shoes. Complete the look with a tie clip and/or pocket square. If you need some ideas, go check out GQ.com

8. Do NOT be the one guy not wearing a suit. You’ll feel like crap at your interview and you will NOT be standing out in a good way. Instead, aim to be the BEST dressed interviewee there. You’ll feel like a million bucks and act like it. On that note though, don’t go super overboard. You want to look sharp and professional, but not gaudy and obnoxious so no gold cufflinks.

9. Your best accessory is your smile. SMILE!

10. Go to bed early the night before so you don’t risk getting insomnia. Get LOTS of sleep the night before. Eat a good breakfast, brush your teeth, mouthwash, and floss then leave and arrive at your interview location early. Don’t eat any foods that make you gassy, don’t eat at Tim Hortons and risk spilling coffee on yourself, and don’t get schooled by traffic if you’re coming from out of town. Keep some gel/hair wax in your car so if it’s really windy or rainy on the day of your interview you can fix yourself up in the washroom in the interview building.

11. REMEMBER YOUR INTERVIEW VOUCHER! Double check EVERYTHING you need to bring before and after you lock your door. Write them down on a piece of paper and physically go CHECK CHECK CHECK. Don’t be the one idiot of the day who forgets his voucher at home.

12. Be friendly to everyone in the morning, say hi, smile and be enthusiastic. Pump yourself up and get in the right state of mind while you’re sitting and waiting for your interview. Also, you never know who you might talk to in the morning – it might end up being one of your interviewers.

13. Anticipate problems and logistical issues. My mouth gets really dry whenever I do interviews or speak in public. I was really worried about this leading up to my interview, but a couple days before I was in shoppers and I found this product called Oralbalance Dry Mouth Moisturizer. It comes in a little tube and you squeeze out a little bit of jelly into your mouth. It’s basically lube for your mouth LOL. It may be a bit weird to some, but I was glad my mouth stayed nice and moisturized throughout my interview.

14. Spread your eye contact to all the interviewers. Dont focus on just one, and don’t ignore an interviewer if he doesn’t say anything. Make sure to engage all of them, and have some good questions prepared to ask them at the end of your interview.

15. When in doubt or when you don’t know an answer, smile. Staying smiling will keep you looking calm and composed. The actual act of smiling itself will actually improve your mental and emotional state. So try not to look like a deer caught in the headlights, and if you truly don’t know the answer, smile, laugh at yourself a little bit and look slightly embarassed and tell them, ” it escapes me at the moment, but I will make sure to look into it! “.

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9 thoughts on “15 Bits of Random Interview Advice

  1. i like how u got lube for your mouthh for the interview..HILARIOUSSSU. haha but i think i get dry mouth too!

  2. I know you wrote this post quite a few months ago, but I’ve seen the advice more than once to ask questions, but what should I be asking?

    1. The more relevant they are to your situation the better. If you have trouble thinking of things to ask, try to think of questions that are phrased in such a way that it sounds like you are seeking to add value to your tenure as a JET.

      For example: ” I really want to get involved in my local community if I become a JET. What are some ways that you would recommend getting involved above and beyond my responsibilities as an ALT?”

      aside from that, if you can get the ex-JET talking about themself for awhile, that`s probably a good thing.

  3. Thanks for this post, it’s really useful. I’m preparing for my interview in Toronto and I just wanted to ask a quick question about the actual waiting room assuming it’s the same layout this year in University College.

    Is there a place we can leave our coats and bags safely? Like in the reception area or something?

    And are we allowed to bring a notepad with paper/pen inside the interview room?

    1. There`s no place to leave your bags or coats. You can`t leave them in the interview waiting room. You can bring a notepad and pen into the interview waiting room to review your notes or whatever while you wait to be called up. It`s probably fine to fold your coat and bring your bag into the interview room though. Just leave it by the door and I`m sure it will be fine. Goodluck! Prepping must be crazy right about now.

      1. Wear a grey suit rather than a black one? Possibly the dumbest interview advice I’ve ever read…

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