JET Program
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www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jet Washington, DC 1000 to 5000 Employees

JET Program Assistant Language Teacher Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Feb 2, 2014
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Declined Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher
Washington, DC

I applied online - interviewed at JET Program in February 2013.

Interview Details – Got called for the interview in DC. Walked in to the embassy about 20 minutes early. There was a waiting room with a previous JET teacher and a video about the JET experience. The woman I talked to was very nice and personable, willing to answer any question. Then I was led to an interview room with three interviewers. Two women who had done JET, one Japanese man who worked for the embassy. Basic question - why JET, what skills do you have that would help you, talk about when you've taught children, challenges you faced (I did volunteering with teaching kids music). Lots of questions based on my resume/application/personal statement. Also had to do a brief section in Japanese (because I speak it) talking to the Japanese man and then reading a selection and answering questions in Japanese about it.

Interview Question – You have to design a lesson where you teach three aspects of American culture - what three aspects do you choose and how do you represent each of them with an object.   Answer Question

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher
Chicago, IL

I applied online and the process took 8 months - interviewed at JET Program.

Interview Details – -The application and hiring process for JET takes around 7-8 months in total.
-First round of written applications are due in November (requires personal statement outlining reasons why you want to live and work in Japan, a resume, and two letters of recommendation)
-Received notification that I had made it to the interview stage in January and the interview was in February.

-The interview was roughly 30 minutes long and with a panel of three interviewers
-Most of the questions were straight forward (questions that you would expect in any interview). That being said, they may try to "rattle your cage" to see how you react in a stressful situation. In my interview one of the interviewers played the "bad cop" and asked the tougher questions and grilled me more than the other two interviewers on the panel. Just try not to let the cage rattling phase you and remain upbeat and positive.

-I finally received notification that I had been put on the "short list" for placement in March and received information about the city where I had been placed two or three weeks after that

Interview Question – Demonstrate how you would introduce yourself to a class of Japanese students.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiation. JET contracts are set from the beginning.

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Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Very Easy Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher
New York, NY

I applied online and the process took 6 months - interviewed at JET Program in February 2009.

Interview Details – After submitting the application and being informed of being accepted for the interview, I interviewed at the NYC CLAIR office in mid-February. Was put in a waiting room with other candidates and a greeter. Not sure if the greeter gives feedback on the candidates, but chatted them up anyway just to be safe.

My interview panel consisted of a Japanese person, a CLAIR official and a former JET. None of the questions were hard. Every question they asked I had been able to find on some JET-related website beforehand, so just do your research. The whole thing was very short, I was in by 9.50am (for a 10am interview) and out by 10.15am.

Interview Question – I listed in my application that I could speak Japanese, and was asked one question in Japanese. It was ludicrously easy: What have you done today?   View Answer

Negotiation Details – Was notified in early April of the decision via email. There is no negotiation. The only consistent thing across JET is the salary.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Easy Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher
Boston, MA

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at JET Program in March 2010.

Interview Details – you get interviewed by some people from the embassy and also some japanese person probably. the interview does not determine where you go in japan, and you can't haggle. everyone panics over it but it's actually pretty easy, and whether you get hired is a crap shoot anyway, so just practice the questions like you would for a real job and buff up on your japanese in case they give you a pop quiz

Interview Question – what would you do if a japanese person was rude to you?   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – no negotiation

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No Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at JET Program in February 2009.

Interview Details – After the initial application process I was notified about two months later that I would be getting an interview for the Assistant Language Teacher position. Upon arrival at the consulate we were first greeted by security and made to go through a metal detector, after this we were instructed to watch a video providing some insight as to what life as an ALT would be like. Eventually the I was called back for the interview. My interviewers were three women, all middle-aged, two former ALT's and one JET admin of some sort. They asked a variety of questions, from general background info to what I holiday I would choose to teach a class and why. Overall I thought the interview went well and was surprised when I did not receive an offer, but when I talked with my peers that were applying also it seemed they gave the person who spent the least amount of time in Japan the offer, which may indicate that if you've lived in Japan for some time and your language ability is up to snuff it may behoove you to apply for the CIR position.

Interview Question – What would you do if your teacher did not want to utilize you and you just sat in the back of the classroom all the time?   Answer Question

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Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher

Interviewed at JET Program

Interview Details – The interview wasn't nearly as ad as I thought - I'd read lots of reviews about good cop/bad cop, but they were both very friendly. The interview goes so quickly though (it was fifteen mins but felt like two) so you really have to use the time to stand out. They didn't ask me anything aout my Japanese even though I'm learning, and they didn't ask anything about 'why Japan?' which suprised me.

Interview Question – What would you do if you were lost in a rural area at night and spoke no Japanese?Tell us about a news story you've heard about Japan lately?   Answer Question

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Easy Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher

The process took 3 months - interviewed at JET Program in February 2011.

Interview Details – Submissions deadline was in December and from there on you get shortlisted and are called in for an interview and language test.
The test is pretty basic, and if you know English well, you'll master it without any problems. It was just grammar check and comprehension. That lasted for about an hour.
Afterwards there is a 1:1 interview with the panel : a Japanese citizen, an ex-JET and an expert on Japan (a lecturer). They will each take turns asking you questions- why Japan? What would you do in a so-and-so situation at your school, how will you cope with Japan' winter? What's the latest news on Japan etc.

Interview Question – What will be your biggest challenge in Japan?   Answer Question

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Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher

The process took a day - interviewed at JET Program in February 2011.

Interview Details – It was at the local consulate. I met the program coordinator in the lobby, and then I went into a meeting room in the back with a few tables, Japanese cultural stuff on the walls, the other interviewees, and a former JET. Although talking to the former JET was not part of the interview, engage him and be friendly because I'm sure he was consulted later. Two sets of panel interviews were being conducted at the same time, so when it was my turn I was led to a room with two tables, one for me, one for the three-person interview team. The panel had their back to the window, so the view was a little distracting.

At the time, it seemed very formal. In hindsight, I found the process relaxed by Japanese standards. Even though only one person I interviewed with was actually Japanese, the culture was quite Japanese-y and formal by American standards. In general, don't let the formality through you off. There were plenty of my jokes that no one laughed at. I would advise, seem as friendly and outgoing as possible, nevermind if they seem subdued. Bringing in pictures about my life (as examples of what I would do in Japan), seemed to go over well. I think most of their decision was made from my paper application before I ever entered the room.

Most of the questions I got were not about teaching or my interest in Japan, they were about a previous move across the country and adjusting to a new environment.

Interview Question – What do you plan to do after JET?   View Answer

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Declined Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Assistant Language Teacher Interview

Assistant Language Teacher

The process took 5 months - interviewed at JET Program in February 2010.

Interview Details – Sent application with personal statement, letters of recommendation etc. late 2009. Received notification of interview January 2010, attended interview in February. Interview was with 3 panel members for 30-40 min. Received notification of alternate status in April, then offered an upgrade to shortlist in early May.

Pre-interview selection process seems intentionally mysterious and arbitrary - candidates were not informed of exactly what the program is looking for, and resort to seeking advice from previous applicants (of which there is plenty on the internet). No reasons are given for pre-interview rejection, so applicants can only guess what they were rejected for.

Dressing well is encouraged for the panel interview, as is showing enthusiasm and interacting with the reception staff and other candidates before the interview. There is much information about interview specifics available online that I won't go into, but I will say that the interview seems more like a test of how much you have researched the various tips online beforehand and how capable you are of sticking to the "party line" on whatever subject you are asked about. Certain key phrases and words will elicit and visible positive response from the panel; prior online research will tell you what those are.

Experiences differ on how tough the interview panel is. Some claim their panel was aggressive and actively hostile, mine was mellow and seemed interested in the responses I gave to questions. Bit of luck involved at all stages of the application process.

Interview Question – What would you do if the Japanese English teacher you are working with does not want to utilize you in class, or only uses you as a pronunciation robot (repeating words and phrases out loud?)   View Answer

Reason for Declining – JET can upgrade from alternate status at any time during the year and discourages asking about your placement on the waitlist. I looked for another job during the wait and had other opportunities lined up when notified of my upgrade to the shortlist.

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