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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interview at the Japanese Embassy


Few. That's that over with!

I'm sitting in a pub next to London Victoria Coach Station, waiting for my coach back to Sheffield, and breathing out after that interview experience.

Had a nice journey down with course-mates Jon and Jenny. Sat in the cafe together next to the embassy for a bit, before Jenny went off for her slot. Jon and I attempted to forget about it all by going for a walk to Buckingham Palace, just the other side of Green Park. I've not been there for many years. I liked that.

Then it was back to the embassy. Jon was first. I passed the time by going to the loo.

So how was it? Well, I am very happy with how it went (that does not equate to "I think I got the job". I wouldn't be so arrogant as to think so with so many excellent candidates, like my course-mates).

Security was pretty tight. Having gone through the x-ray machine, we were locked in some glass-walled reception area with a manga exhibition, quizzed several times to assert as to whether or not we were carrying any cameras. Taken through some airlock, and told time and time again to not make any contact with any other candidates as we left - not even a quick glance.

The English grammar test beforehand was bloomin' tough! I never knew English could be so hard. I know I make a lot fo mistakes in the Mumble - but those are typos and the result of rapid transfer of thought-to-keyboard. Generally, I consider myself to have a pretty good grasp of English grammar - but that was tough.

The three interviewers were really nice people, you could tell that no matter how hard they tried to look intimidating behind that big desk. Two male Japanese diplomats in their, er, late 40s, and a young English lady. The whole interview, which I think went on for about 25 minutes, was conducted in Japanese.

My goals for this interview were

a) to be relaxed
b) to be me.

I managed both, comfortably, getting laughs out of all of them and generally enjoying it. There was only one OMG moment - during the Japanese test. The first article I was handed was fine, all about Taiwanese tourists going to Japan (did you know that Taiwanese driver's licences are valid in Japan now?). But the second piece, which I was also given one minute to read, was an absolute swine, and I only managed to read through half of it, and struggled to understand that. Still, when faced with questions on it, I simply apologised and told them that I didn't quite understand it. That was ok.

Anyway, basically I was completely honest, and I did as well as I could, and thus I will be happy with the decision whatever it is. I won't make any guesses as to whether I passed or not as I don't know what elements they will be concentrating on. If it's based on language ability or willingness to go anywhere in Japan then I doubt I will get through - I made my feelings re. *Twinkle* pretty clear.

If I don't get it, I will be happy knowing that I gave it my best shot, and that there are other opportunities waiting for me elsewhere. I feel pretty chuffed with what I've achieved so far anyway, getting an interview at the embassy was my goal back in 2003 (although admittedly that was the British Embassy in Tokyo not the Japanese Embassy in London!).

Looking back on it, I find it ironic that I was far, far faaaar more stressed out for last month's mock interview that we had as an exam with our favourite teachers. I mean, preparing for that, I completely lost the power of speech. I think in that exam situation I was trying hard to not make mistakes, whereas today I just let myself free with my normal Japanese. Perhaps they will mark me down for not using sufficiently polite Japanese, but I wasn't rude, I used 'desu' 'masu throughout - and I was me.

According to the published info, the short-list of candidates is announced in April, with notification of selection and placement in May.

So, plenty of time to forget about it for now.

Right, best be off, have a bus to catch. Back to Sheffield and all the madness that the uni thing entails.

love joseph

2 Comments:

Blogger Shari said...

My feeling about these things now that I'm older (and hopefully wiser) is that, if you don't get it, it wasn't something you were meant to do. For better or worse, we have the experiences we need to have and the rest pass by and go to someone else.

For me, this has been a hard lesson to learn because I grew up with a mother who acted like you had to seize every opportunity no matter how bad it may have been for you in the short or long run, because there may never be another one. Through the years, this has made it hard for me not to devalue myself and placed me in jobs and situations which were degrading and not worthwhile. I still find it hard to let go and say no, but at least the idea is now on the radar.

Good luck!

13/2/08 09:36  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thanks Shari.

I totally agree.

...and it's funny, now I've done the interview, I don't feel such a need for the job itself - whether I get it or not seems almost incidental.

For me, the interview posed a really big challenge as last autumn I was struggling so much with coping with this 'Japanese interview situation' (as recreated in our class room, with course mates acting as interviewers).

Thus, looking back on yesterday I feel a great sense of achievement, and it has given me a sense of confidence re. interview situations in general, which in turn makes applying for other jobs an awful lot easier.

13/2/08 17:47  

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