Excerpted from the Japan Career Guide
Before the interview, you should research and learn as much as possible about the prospective employer. Studying the company website, reviewing company press releases and speaking to current or former company employees are considered good preparation. If the target company operates stores, hotels or restaurants, take the time to visit at least one or two of them. Learning as much as possible about the company’s protocols will help in preparing for the interview.
Punctuality is a must in Japan. Being late is regarded as rude. One should plan his or her travel time to arrive at the meeting location about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. In case one's transportation is delayed or other unforeseeable circumstances don't allow for an on-time arrival, calling the company to alert the interviewer(s) is acceptable. It is wise to get a location map with the closest subway station exit in advance of the meeting and use it as a reference. Most companies provide detailed access information on their homepages. Locations can be difficult to find in complicated urban areas. After arriving at the building early, the applicant should not ask to see the person responsible for the interview until just a few minutes prior to the scheduled time. As unprofessional as a late arrival time can be, arriving too early and expecting immediate attention can also create a negative first impression.
The first meeting, which may last 30 to 60 minutes, allows the interviewer to form an initial impression of you as a potential employee, to confirm your skills and motivation, and to review your résumé. If you are from a foreign country, you likely will be asked why you are looking for a job in Japan.
Demonstrating good communication skills and business etiquette during the interview often is as important as impressive credentials. A Japanese interviewer will pay close attention to manners, posture and how well you keep up with the pace of the interview. It’s important to remember that your character will be judged thoroughly but with subtlety.
The first interview is usually conducted by one person, or possibly by two people. A second and third interview might follow. Some companies have a lengthy interview process of up to six sessions that could involve many people. Hiring an employee is considered to be a group decision, so it is important for you to emphasize and demonstrate an ability to be a team player.
Interviews are typically conducted in meeting rooms. You should stand up when an interviewer enters the room, and be conscious of maintaining good posture and a calm and polite demeanor. When you sit, keep your knees together and rest your hands on your lap or on the table, without appearing unnatural.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Japan Guide.