caithion: (Elegance)
[personal profile] caithion
A couple of people seemed interested, so I figure I'll just post this here. :)

From the paperwork we as interviewers are given, and from what the people from the consulate said, there are three main categories they're looking at for both ALTs and CIRs:

Personality

- Are you warm, outgoing, approachable? Will you do well with strangers and children in your position as a teacher/internationalizer? (They particularly noted that Tokyo is looking for more personable CIRs this year, as apparently the last few crops have been rather... dry. If they want bureaucrats, they'll hire diplomats, not bright-eyed 20- or 30-somethings.)
- Do you show maturity? Will you make a good co-worker?
- Are you flexible? Or will you be an irritant? Will you adapt to living in a foreign culture? Or will you be miserable and homesick?
- Do you seem to have some clear goals for your time in Japan?

Skills

- Experience teaching/tutoring/volunteering with children or adults?
- Ever worked a real job, lived on your own?
- Experience living abroad/homestays/study aboad?
- Experience dealing with other cultures or abrupt changes in your own life?
- Able to deal with strange questions, odd requests?
- Creativity? Can you think up activities, games, self intro, etc on the spot?
- Hobbies or interests outside of education and English that you can use to meet students outside of classes/community members outside of your job. (i.e.- sports you play or instruments to join the kids in clubs, or maybe caligraphy or ikebana or some class you'd be interested in taking at the local community center.)

Knowledge

- Do you understand what the JET Program is about? Do you seem to have an idea of what you're getting into, or are your expectations too starry-eyed?
- What can you contribute to the program?
- Do you have a basic knowledge of the US (or your own country, whatever it may be)? (Answering "Who is the V-President?" wrong is a bad sign.)
- How would you approach explaining aspects of your culture?
- How's your English? Do you speak clearly? Good grammar?


You don't have to excel at all of these things. Some people are strong on education, but perhaps have very little knowledge of Japan. That's cool; do they seem like they'll adapt well? Some are Japanese or East Asian majors with no teaching experience. Okay, do we get a good sense from them? We had a brilliant woman, a Japanese major, but she was very stiff and cold. This is a job interview, so you should take it seriously, yes, but we're also trying to get a sense of how you interact with kids. Even CIRs tend to end up doing some elementary school visits or other education things.

And, good god, don't talk about anime on your application and your interview. Sure, there'll be a JET alum on your panel, and most of us are nerds, but you'll also probably have a native speaker and a consul member. Even I got a bit uncomfortable when I sensed that someone was just joining the program because they liked anime. Maybe I'm turning into an old fogey, but I'm looking for people with multiple interests whose sum total of Japanese culture knowledge isn't all pop.

Be honest, be yourself. Don't push yourself so hard to be cheerful that you come across as fake. And don't worry! By the time you reach the interview stage, unless you really freak out the panel members somehow you're going to get a "yes" from them. Tokyo makes the final decisions after that, but I've been told (and I have no idea how true this is for every country or even in general, so don't quote me on this) that the number interviewed is roughly equal to the number of open slots and wait-list slots. They're not expecting to weed out a huge number of people. They just want to make sure no crazies get through, or people whom panel members really believe wouldn't suit the job and would be miserable in the program.
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