PRIVATE PROPERTY

4 ways to make your JET app stand out (ALT)

If you want to get onto the JET programme then congrats! You are reading this article, which means you are doing the research you need! The JET programme receives several thousand applications every year, so you not only want to make your application good, you want to make it stand out. Here are four tips to help you look like the best JET programme candidate.

1) Why Japan?

I have offered to help some current applicants, and I was surprised that some missed out on this key question: “Why Japan?” You may have a fantastic resume of teaching and/or international experience, maybe even background in TEFL, but miss out on specifying why you want to teach in Japan. Why not teach English in China? South Korea? Or even Europe? Why Japan specifically?

This does not just mean a rich background in Japanese studies – in fact, there are many current JETs that had little to no experience with Japan before coming here. My advice is to answer Why Japan?, or even Why JET?, in your personal statement. Even for those applicants who do have university courses and activities they can list on the “Japan-Related Studies” section of the application, the reality is many people, especially JET applicants, probably have some experience with Japanese culture they can add to their application. To make your application stand out, tell them your story: say what sparked your interest and how you are eager to experience Japanese culture first-hand.

2) Remember, you are applying to be a TEACHER.

For many JETs, the JET programme is their first time teaching, ever (including me!). Some of us joke that in the programme there are two kinds of people: people who have loads of experience with Japanese culture (but no teaching) or people with loads of teaching experience (but no background in Japanese culture). Now imagine the person who has experience with both!

For those of you who have little background in education, I encourage you to list any teaching experience, or even experience working with children and teens, you can think of. You are, after all, not applying to live in Japan, you are applying to teach. There is a place in the application where you can list teaching experience, and it is not limited to teaching in a classroom: ever been a camp counselor? Led a lecture at Sunday School? Assisted your professor and/or high school teacher? Think outside of the box! Any teaching-related experience is good experience! And DO mention it in your personal statement – again, I cannot emphasize it enough, this is a teaching job, so prepare your application accordingly.

3) What can you bring to Japan? …What can you bring back?

Consider this: What is the purpose of the JET programme, and how can you fulfill that purpose?

The answer to this question is (and has been) highly debated, but for your application drop the debate and focus on these two objectives and how you can help the programme meet those objectives (then you can pick it back up again once you are here in an izakaya with your fellow ALTs).

Objective 1: Internationalization of Japan

Allow me to remind you of the JET Programme’s mission statement:

The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program seeks to enhance internationalization in Japan by promoting mutual understanding between the people of Japan and those of other nations. The Program aims to enhance foreign language education and promote international exchange at the local level through the fostering of ties between Japanese youth and foreign youth alike. – The JET Program USA

TL:DR The JET Programme wants to introduce Japanese to foreigners.

Believe it or not, but many rural Japanese may have never met a foreigner before – or if they have, it has more likely than not been an English teacher. Japan is known to be a highly homogeneous and relatively closed society, and many argue that this is hurting Japan’s competitiveness in the ever-globalizing economy. As such, an effort of the JET program is not only to help students learn English from a natural speaker, but to help introduce them to a foreign culture.

In your application, tell them how you can help them meet this objective. Why are you the best candidate to introduce your students to your language and culture? And maybe not just your students, but the community you will be placed in? Consider your that you are applying to be not only a teacher, but a representative of your culture – an agent of grassroots globalization.

Objective 2: “Japanization” of your culture.

The JET programme is not only helping the Japanese internationalize, but it helps to improve Japan’s image around the world. The JET programme as a great example of public diplomacy at work; not only do the Japanese learn more about other cultures, but you have thousands of ALTs going back home each year to spread the love of Japan. Thus, Japan’s image improves.

Though the effectiveness of this is debatable, many JET alumni have indeed gone on to play a role in Japan relations in their home countries. You may have noticed in the “Teaching Experience” section in the application, there is a space for you to talk about your future profession; this is no doubt in relation to this objective. The JET Programme wants to know if you might go on to promote Japan’s interests in an influential way.

I know it’s a bit early to think about what you might be doing after JET but this is your opportunity to show that you are not only a temporary English teacher, but a long term investment. And your answer doesn’t have to be “I want to go into Japan-US relations!” (or Japan-whatever country you are from). If you aren’t a politics person, expand your mind and think of how the JET programme supporters are considering the possibilities: an ALT in Akita-ken who is business-oriented might like komachi rice enough to try to introduce it to people back home, thus making a local business international. A candidate who is interested in teaching will bring their experiences to young people back home, cultivating a good attitude toward Japan in their home country. You can find a way promote Japan’s interests in pretty much every career, so think outside the box and tell them how.

4) International Experience: Abroad AND At Home!

Finally, having international experience helps you stand out for multiple reasons, the least of which being that it proves that you can help the programme meet the two objectives I listed in Tip #3. The other side of the coin is that if you have international experience you are more likely to be able to mentally handle living and working in a foreign country. Showing that you have done it before is a pretty good way to reassure them!

So yes, in the “Intercultural/International Experience” section of the application, DO put that brief week-long trip to Italy. Even if it doesn’t seem entirely related to living in Japan for a year, it actually is! If you have never traveled abroad, that’s perfectly okay! But, like the previous tips, I encourage you to find other things to fill in the “international experience” section of the application if you want your app to really stand out. Any experience with other cultures shows that you can help the programme meet their objectives, and it shows you have an understanding of cultural differences which will better help you deal with culture shock.


I hope these four tips help you and that I will see you at the next Tokyo Orientation! Feel free to comment or contact me, or anyone else with the JET Coaster if you have any questions regarding your application. Also, check out our The JET programme application – paper application post about the first step of your app: the paper application. And finally, stay updated with The JET Coaster as we will be writing more application advice!

Good luck on your application, and がんばって!

Featured image by Tom Ventura, with edits. 

6 Must Read Tips For New JETs & ALTs

Advice For New JETs, 6 Must-Read Tips

So you did the hard part, right? You’re on the programme. Time to let your hair down and enjoy the ride. Right? Wrong.

Now begins the serious work.

If you come here with a half-arsed attitude you won’t last long and won’t have much fun.

I’ve been where you are and seen many, many more people walk the same path. From my leaning ivory sempai tower, here come six absolutely vital tips or advice for new JETs

Advice For New JETs #1 – Learn Japanese

Seems obvious, right? I will reiterate strongly the incontrovertible maxim that higher Japanese ability correlates strongly with more fun in Japan. (If you’re already a gun, skip ahead) You can communicate better at work, develop a good social circle, and it even helps you find romance.

So what should you do about it? Get studying! Anki, Koohii (RTK) and grammar guides are great starting points. Dedicate at least an hour a day to serious study.

Actual kids were happier than the masking emoticons!

Actual kids were happier than the masking emoticons!

Put it the effort. You will be rewarded.

Advice For New JETs #2 – Be Happy At Work

Easier said than done? Not really.

My friend Tony wrote a fantastic article on how you can control your attitudes and mindsets: How The Words We Use Affect Our Reality. Take a positive attitude at work. Even if you come in at 8:15 at leave at 16:15 and do the bare minimum, do what you do with a smile and appreciation for the great experience you have.

Advice For New JETs #3 – Eat Out A Lot

Gyoza in Utsunomiya

Gotta selfie. Gyoza in Utsunomiya with the locals

While I wouldn’t suggest going out every night (bad for your wallet), eating out a lot is a fantastic thing for new JETs to do. It gives you a chance to taste new foods and experience your local delicacies. It also provides a great opportunity to converse with the locals and potentially build great connections. My friend Joshua “Great Sensei” Walters is especially good at this. Wish he’d write an article dissecting how and why (wink, wink).

Strike up a conversation at the local yakitori place; who knows where it might lead!

It will also help keep you in good spirits, eating delicious stuff all the time. It shouldn’t cripple your finances either due to there being a fairly slim margin between the costs of eating out and eating at home. Just be active and watch your health and figure.

Advice For New JETs #4 – Travel

I came to Japan as a guy who didn’t really ‘get’ travel. I’d done a lot of it when I lived in England (over 20 countries) but mostly for work or with family. Arriving here changed that. TJC co-founder Thomas Simmons is a close friend and he was a big influence. He showed me that travel was something that had numerous charm points. Self-development, cultural awareness, horizon-expanding, mentality-strengthening and … good old fashioned fun times.

What can you do about it? First, I urge you to download Thomas’ free guide on travel (form bottom of this post). It teaches you in easy steps how to plan and execute a ballin’ trip. It should be a $10 ebook but it’s free. Just go get it before he listens to my advice and charges for it.

Secondly, please follow me on your social network of choice! I upload snaps to Instagram and Facebook. Also from time-to-time I will make travel blog posts here. Perhaps, some of the destinations I visit will appeal to you, and you can head off for your own adventure.

Advice For New JETs #5 – Dress Well

I have yet to write any articles about dressing specifically for work, but don’t underestimate the effect of presentation. Your clothing reflects your identity and attitude to appearance. If you dress poorly, you are broadcasting low social acuity and carelessness. Dress sharply and practically and you communicate efficiency, professionalism and capability.

 

Daniel Bamford ALT Teacher Japan Classroom

Advice For New JETs #6 – Other Tidbits

Skype your family. But, don’t over-Skype. Find a solid hobby and make it worthwhile (sorry, gaming doesn’t count). Play an instrument or a sport. Read extensively, focusing on books that will make you a better person. Do some nice decor and fit out your apartment. I’m sure there are hundreds of other good tips too.

This advice probably applies to existing old JETs too, but I was compelled to write this for all those freshies out there who are sick of hearing about Stages or ESIDs. This isn’t Kansas college, folks. Flourish and revel in your new life.

Any questions or ideas, I’d love to interface! You can message me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I want to contribute and help, just hit me up. If you found the article inspirational or useful, please consider sharing it with your friends so they can benefit too.


The full version of this article appeared on Daniel Bamford’s personal blog. If you’re interested in the recommendations, check it out for more depth.
Advice For New JETs, 6 Must-Read Tips

 

vicki-intro2

How to: Write an awesome JET Personal Statement

If you are an aspiring JET eagerly awaiting the next application period to open, I am sure by now you have read about the many tasks that current and outgoing JETs had to do in order to gain one of those coveted interview spots!

Arguably the most important task is your Personal Statement (or Statement of Purpose). This is your opportunity to write in your own words all about why you want to take part in this programme, and what you have to offer as a potential JET Programme candidate.

Having spent the past three and a half years assisting prospective university students with their personal statements and applications, I learned many useful tactics on how to tackle getting started. These tips definitely helped me when it came to writing my own JET Personal Statement and kept the whole process stress-free, so I’m passing them on to you – because sharing is caring.

Ganbatte! Let’s show JET the best possible you!

 

Get Started Early

The JET Programme application usually opens sometime around late September through to October, and stays open for about a month. If you think this gives you plenty of time to write a strong statement – YOU’RE WRONG!

Whether you are a current undergraduate or have previously graduated, you should avoid starting your statement from scratch during the open application period. There are many other parts to complete on top of this, especially if you need to visit a doctor for medical evidence or collect university documentation. These can quickly become difficult to manage if you have personal, work or university life to juggle alongside.

It isn’t a mammoth task, but a rushed statement is easier to spot and pick apart, and this is your one opportunity to shine before they get to meet you. Starting earlier gives you more time to plan, proof read and edit your statement until it is the best representation of you!

 

Do not rely heavily on example statements

Example statements can be a really helpful tool if you have a mental block or are struggling to get started. However you should use these with caution as they were written solely from one person’s experiences! Reading other statements whilst writing your own can also be a detriment, as you may compare yours to what they have written – something you should avoid doing.

Everybody has a unique story about how they fell in love with Japan, what led them to apply and the experience that you can bring. JET wants you for what you will bring to them, not a cookie-cutter clone who fits a mould – hence why every successful statement is completely different.

person concentrating photoPhoto by Leo Hidalgo (@yompyz)

Stick to a structure

When you start searching for JET Personal Statement advice, you will undoubtedly come across many different requirements that people have had to abide by. This can be a bit of a panic at first but the best advice is to stick to what your consulate/official JET website states! For example, us Brits can write between 800-1000 words, double-spaced which can end up at around 2-3 pages, whereas elsewhere in the world I have heard it can be limited to 2 pages only.

Your official JET website may also provide a structure that they would prefer you to stick to (if you’re applying from the UK there definitely is one). This is extremely helpful, and it is ideal that you do work around this as you will answer all of the questions they want to know, in the order they are looking for.

That said – don’t feel like you need to stick to three exact paragraphs because they give you three sections. You can write as many as you like, as long as it fits within their requirements. Just make it flow like you would with any regular essay, but keep your content organised.

 

office suit photo

Remember it’s a job!

The JET Programme is a fantastic opportunity for sharing your culture and experience and….. aw heck, you really want to live in Japan. We all do – that’s why so many JETs are already there and the rest of us soon to join. But it isn’t an extended holiday or a chance to continue a university style life. You are applying for a full time job – so keep that in mind when writing. Treating the application professionally will show through the way you write and present yourself.

Just to note, it has been debated whether or not mentioning an interest in anime or manga can put a negative spin on your application. But if mentioned as part of an interest and not the overall theme or driving factor for your application it should be okay. I actually wrote about my childhood love of Pokemon in mine and here I am now, due to start in August.

 

writing photo

Just WRITE!

The biggest thing to do is WRITE. By the time you have researched and planned what they want from you, you’ll be ready to just go for it. Don’t write your first draft with the word or page limit in mind – go over it! It is always better to have more than less, and trim it down later. You can proof read, and have friends, family, colleagues and teachers help you along the way (Especially if you listen to the first point and start early ;D).

Have as many trusted people as you feel you need give you an honest opinion on the statement, but remember to keep it true to yourself. You can always re-write a sentence to make it sound more professional, but the original personality should be there. Some of the best statements my students sent off to their universities began as raw, excitable (and terribly written) pieces of writing that they rewrote to a professional standard. But because they gave themselves enough time and proof read carefully, they kept a flavour of themselves in there without becoming robotic.

 

 

I hope that you enjoy working on this and that my advice is of some reassurance to you throughout the process. And when in doubt.. head on over to the forums! There’s a fantastic community on there and plenty of helpful hands on deck to give support. I’m always more than happy to answer any questions.

Good luck!         

Unexpectedkindness is themost

My Experiences with the JET Hiring Process

 

Hi all! I thought I’d share a bit on my experiences with the application, interview, and excruciating wait time involved in becoming a JET ALT; as well as some recommendations based on what I’ve learned.

 

First off I’d like to say thanks for reading! Next, I should mention that I have applied to the JET Program twice – 2011/2012 in Portland and 2014/2015 in Seattle – and have technically gotten accepted both times but turned down the first offer back in 2012 for financial reasons (had been home from Tokyo study abroad for only 10 months, just graduated, only had a part time job, and had a car loan). So below I’ll put in bits from both those experiences, but each consulate might do certain things differently.

Read more

JET Programme- The Interview

JET: The Interview

As I have been short-listed for the JET Programme, I’m now confident enough to discuss what I did in preparation for the interview and how the actual event transpired. Some of this is slightly embarrassing to admit but it appears to have worked so I couldn’t care less! I hope that in the future, some people may find this post helpful in preparing for their interview.

The Preparation

Read everything. I absolutely mean everything. The interview is arguably the most important part of the JET selection process and you should do everything in your power to be prepared. Unofficial JET resources are often the best places to look. Wikipedia is fair game. Personal blogs are great. Reddit can be a goldmine. ITIL is amazing. Additionally, you should absolutely use as many personal contacts in JET that you have. I was lucky enough to go into the interview after asking two school friends extensively about it.

My preparation for the interview consisted of reading through the extensive online lists of JET Interview questions, brushing up on basic Japanese geography, having mock interviews, writing down prepared answers, and looking up important information on Japan such as important politicians, prominent royalty, and celebrities. At the least, be sure you can name several prefectures, the current prime minister, the current emperor, and all of the main islands. I didn’t end up needing much of what I researched but it absolutely helped me because I was able to walk into that interview room and be absolutely fearless.

The Day Of

When it comes to the day of the interview, wear a suit. Absolutely wear a suit. Have people been hired when they didn’t wear a suit? Yes. Will a suit reduce your chances of being hired? No. So wear a suit. It will also help with your confidence. If you look great, you feel great, and you will be great. You want to be at your best and nobody is ever at their best in a golf shirt.

I strongly recommend going into your interview like you would a university exam. By that I mean don’t drink too much or too little before, and make sure you don’t eat a heavy meal that might make you sluggish. You want to be lively enough to hold a conversation and a dry mouth is a problem you don’t need. Ideally, you want to arrive early as well. If you are interviewing in a city that you do not live in, it will likely be worth the cost to get a hotel close to your interview location so that you can have minimal stress.

There are many accounts of people having ex-JETs in the waiting room when they get there. One of those ex-JETs may even be one of your interviewers so be civil and talkative if you can. In my particular situation, I had the first interview of the day and was only one of two people in the waiting room before my interview. I would highly recommend taking the first interview slot in the morning. This is because the interviewers have nothing to compare you to and you will also likely be one of the easier ones to remember. This does not simply apply for JET. It is a proven strategy in the HR industry because people naturally remember the first and last of a series best.

My Interview

The panel for my interview consisted of the JET Coordinator for my consulate, an ex-JET from Miyagi Prefecture, and a Japanese professor from the University of Calgary. Right off the bat, I believe I earned some lucky points because when the ex-JET mentioned Miyagi, I mentioned that I knew exactly where that was and that I had requested Sendai as my top request. All three were civil but the professor was rather soft-spoken and stone-faced through the entire interview. I was able to make the ex-JET laugh on several occasions and got a couple chuckles out of the coordinator.


Some questions and my answers during the interview in roughly the order asked (paraphrased):

1. Why JET?

I currently know two people on JET and it comes highly recommended from them. It is also extremely well regarded in the international community. Additionally, Japan is one of my favorite countries in the world, I love children, and I believe I am a great teacher. JET seems like the perfect program for me because it lets me fill all those criteria and live how I would like to.

2. Why do you love Japan so much?

I really love the respect that the Japanese have for nature. Even though it is a small island for so many people, they still find a way to preserve so many beautiful sites around their country. They also have some of the best cities in the world. I find that the Japanese do parks really well particularly. I loved how I could be in the middle of a peaceful park in Tokyo and feel like I was in the middle of nature despite actually being in one of the most energetic cities in the world.

3. Do you know what the JET acronym means?

Japan English Teaching. (I know this is wrong. He then corrected me and asked the next question.)

4. What does the Exchange part of the JET acronym mean to you?

I understand that it is an exchange and to me that means that I will not only be learning about Japanese culture, but I will also be expected to teach about Canadian culture and I think that is great. I would likely try and bring aspects of my background into lessons when possible. As an example, if we were doing a unit on animals, I might do a mix of Japanese and Canadian animals.

5. Why is Sendai your top choice?

I don’t do well in extreme heat so I wanted to live in a city that wasn’t too cold or too hot. I also did a majority of my final year courses on marine systems biology so I would like to live next to the ocean. Sendai fit all those criteria and also has several ALT positions.

6. Would homesickness be a problem for you? How do you deal with it?

Absolutely not. I haven’t lived at home for nearly 5 years and I have lived in a different country before when I studied in Sweden. Even if I do start to feel a bit homesick I find that all I need to do is find something to do that reminds me of home.

7. How do you deal with language barriers?

I don’t find language barriers to be a major problem. I lived in a foreign country with a foreign language for nearly 7 months and had no major issues. Even if I can’t get my point across to someone, I normally get along fine with miming or gestures.

8. What are some of the differences between the US and Canada?

We have provinces and territories, they have states. We use British spelling, they do not. We have much fewer people and more space.

9. How would you teach that difference to a child in grade 5?

*Spreads arms really wide* Canada is really really big! You can fit Japan into it more than 20 times. We only have as many people as the 3 prefectures with the most people though. US is smaller than we are but they have many more people.

10. What about the political differences between the US and Canada?

The US has 2 major political parties, Canada has about 5 depending on which province you’re in. They have a president, we have a prime minister. The Queen of England is our head of state though.

11. What are some things you would bring to Japan from Canada to show your class?

I hate to admit it but I actually LOVE plaid. I have several of those really horrible and stereotypical lumberjack shirts that are about as Canadian as you can get. I’d love to bring those with me. I also love maple, but not as most people do. Sure maple syrup and cookies are nice, but I really prefer to use it as an ingredient. When I was in Sweden, I was the only Canadian around so I had many requests for foods using maple. I can make about a dozen different things. I’d love to make some food for my class.

12. When you were in Japan, what did you think of the Japanese people?

The people always seem so lively, even if you’re just doing something as simple as picking up onigiri at a 7/11. I couldn’t help but feel extremely safe and happy in Japan. People were always very polite and helpful to me. I even asked a young man for directions in Kyoto and he walked me all the way there and talked with me along the way. I’ve never had anything like that happen here and they say Canadians are friendly!

13. Japanese people may seem nice on the outside but many will not like foreigners. How will you handle these differences?

Honestly, I expect that not everyone will accept me because of my differences. That being said, I actually love those differences in culture. That’s part of the reason that I love to travel. Even if I may not agree with the viewpoints of someone or they may dislike me simply for being me, I find our differences of opinion to be a beautiful part of life.

14. How would you describe your favorite book to a child in grade 3?

As I mentioned in my essay, my favorite book lately is Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Ultimately, the book is about soul searching and finding ones-self. It has two main characters; a young man who runs away from home and an older man who is homeless and appears to have some sort of mental issue. There are some strange events that occur such as fish falling from the sky and there are some crazy side characters like a man called Johnny Walker but I don’t think I can go into much more detail on the book. It has many adult themes and I probably wouldn’t even try to explain it to someone in grade 3 to begin with.


And those are all the questions from my interview! Overall I think I did alright. If you haven’t noticed, I kind of like to talk and some of my answers are a bit lengthy. I ended up using up all the time and slightly going over I think. They gave me time to ask only one question at the end but it appears everything turned out great in the end! I hope that my experience with the JET interview can be a help to someone in the future!

A version of this post already appeared on Jordan Smith’s personal site (luxnovis.wordpress.com). You can find other posts on topics such as travel, food, and the JET Programme by following the link.

The Jet Coaster's JET Programme Interview Guide

JET Programme Interview Guide

Congratulations, you made it through the paper application. In my opinion, the hardest part is now over. Basically, you just have to show the interviewers that you are who you say you are and you are congruent with your application.

If you are reading this now, you might think you are cutting it close. Don’t worry, you have enough time. Here is what I DID and have personally recommended to people who have made it to the interview stage. They all got in.

Interviewing well is a skill that can be improved with practice. You want to show the interviewers the best version of yourself. You’re putting on your best (tailored, right?) suit, cleaning-up as best you can and heading out to rock it, not wearing jeans and a t-shirt like you would most of the time. You’re trying to put your best foot forward.

There are 5 main steps to the interview:
1. Anticipate the questions that will be asked
2. Do as many mock interviews as possible (pro tip: record yourself)
3. Make sure you will look good for the interview (fashion and grooming)
4. Preparation for the day of the interview
5. Rocking the interview

Let’s break it down:

STEP 1: Anticipate the questions that will be asked

Put special focus on your perceived weak areas and be able to confidently articulate your strong points. Look at your application and essay and anticipate any possible weaknesses your interviewers might attack. 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? In my opinion, being able to offer value as a fun and outgoing person, being open-minded, and being adaptable and flexible are some of the most important traits that you should aim to convey.

Note that if you work backwards from your weak points and the most difficult possible questions you might be asked, your interview will feel like a breeze.

For example:
– Why was your overall GPA not very high?
– Why don’t you have very many Japan related interests listed in your application?
– Can you elaborate how *theme of your essay* relates to being a JET?

Because The JET Interview is standardized, and thousands of people have been JETs throughout the years, it’s possible to figure out what questions come up the most. I’ve talked to tons of current and former JETs about what questions they were asked, and after thinking it through myself, here are 20 questions that I recommend you seriously think about.

1. Can you give a short self introduction of yourself in English and/or Japanese?
Don’t worry, it’s nowhere near as scary as it sounds. It should be short, succinct, and show a bit of your personality. You will be introducing yourself hundreds of times over the course of your first couple months so you might as well get it down NOW when it matters the most. Again, its not hard. Here is an example (English followed by Japanese):

Hello, nice to meet you. Hajimemashite.
My name is ______. ______tomoushimasu.
I’m from ________. ________ no shusshin desu.
My hobby is ____. Shumi wa ________ desu.
Yoroshiku onegai shimasu. (This means something like “I’ll be relying on your kindness please”. It’s a very Japanese phrase that doesnt have a good direct translation, but its how you would end any self introduction in Japan)

The next 3 questions are very important. Some people refer to them as “The Big Three”. You’ll probably be asked at least one of them. Have a good answer.

2. Why Japan?
3. Why JET?
4. Why your specific placement?

Here are the rest of the questions I recommend preparing for:

5. How did you first hear about JET
6. Why JET vs. AEON, INTERAC, NOVA, AMITY? Would you still apply to those if you didn’t get into JET?
7. What makes you different/special from the other applicants?
8. What do you plan to teach about your culture?
9. How exactly will you go about teaching that your culture?
10. What 3 things would you bring to represent your culture
11. Do you know anything about any current events in japan?
12. What do you think would make you a good ALT?
13. What teaching experience do you have? How is it relevant to working in Japan?
14. What international experience do you have?
15. Can you talk about a challenge that you have overcome?
16. What are your best and worst qualities?
17. How will you respond to possible prejudice and negative stereotypes from Japanese?
18. How will you respond to students who expect a stereotypical blonde haired blue eyed Canadian JET (if thats not you)?
19. How is your major related to teaching children in Japan?
20. What if you don’t get your requested placement and are placed in a rural area?

The way I prepared for the interview questions was to sit in front of that list and actually type out answers for each question. I then showed my answers to some trusted confidants and got their advice as to whether my answers would have swayed them. This was before running mock interviews. My typed out responses formed the basis of my replies in the actual interview. This worked for me, but you might want to take a more casual approach. I would recommend running mock interviews and have your friends ask you some of these questions. The more you practice, the more your responses will become more developed, articulate and thought out. You won’t just be spitting out the first thing that comes to mind and hoping for the best. You’ll know what you need to say and want to express, and it would free up your mental resources to concentrate on things like paying attention to your body language, making good eye contact, smiling, and just trying to relax.

Another way I prepared for the interview questions was to jot down some notes of things relevant to Japan and myself. For example, I found that I made lots of lists like:
– 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 to Japan
– 5 famous Japanese people
– 5 famous Japanese authors/artists/singers/actors/athletes
– 5 famous people from your country like authors/artists/singers/actors/athletes
– 5 famous interesting facts about your Country or city
– 5 current news stories/talking points in your country
– 5 current japanese news stories
– 5 transferable skills I have
– 5 positive and 5 negative personality traits (that are also actually positives disguised)
– 5 reasons to visit your country <–this one is really important actually. In Japan, people will want to know where you are from and you’ll constantly be telling people why your home country/city is so awesome.

You don’t have to make lists, you could brainstorm and draw out a mind map or use whatever method you want to organize similar ideas. The point is that you brush up on common knowledge, be able to articulate yourself about your home country, and demonstrate an interest in Japan beyond anime and manga.

STEP 2: Do lots of mock interviews.

If you’re a prospective applicant, there’s a very easy way to see how well you will do on the interview at this current point in time. If your plan and prep up to this point has just been to randomly read up a bit on Japan, read through forums like this, read a few articles on japantimes, and look over your SOP, then stop right here and just do a mock interview with a friend. Print out the first post on this thread, give it to a friend, have them sit across from you on a table and do a quick interview like ITS FOR REAL. Maybe read through your SOP once, collect your thoughts and just go for it. You can’t reset. You can’t say “wait wait, lets do that part again.” Just go for it until the end. If it was easy and your friend gives you good feedback, then great! If it could have been better, well then..

You’ll just have to be honest with yourself and prepare appropriately after that point. All I really wanted to do was suggest themes and ideas that could be brought up in the interview. You know they will probably ask you about Japan, about your motivations, and you might have to demonstrate your Japanese ability or do a demo class. You know if you can squeeze in an interesting anecdote it might make you more memorable. Can you do that confidently the one time it will matter?

Like I said, interviewing is a skill and one that you can get better at with practice. Thus, doing mock interviews is the most powerful thing you can do to prepare. Do as many as you can, with different variations and different scenarios so you dont get screwed even if you encounter the fabled 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. You may bomb the first one or it may go alright. Then you’ll do the next one. It will get better. You’ll be able to express yourself more naturally as things go on autopilot. You’ll know what you need to talk about and you’ll develop a feel for it.
The format of the interview itself is standardized and predictable. There will be two or three interviewers; at least one former JET and at least one Japanese national who has some sort of tie to The JET Programme. You’ll go into your interview location and sit on a chair or couch in front of the panel who are sitting on chairs behind a long table. They will probably be friendly, but prepare like you are going into a hearing.

Do a few mock interviews in front of the mirror, then gather some friends and family to do mock interviews with you in person.

PROTIP: Film your mock interviews and practice lessons. Get over how you sound like on camera. Look at your body language, tonality, vocal projection and try to minimize distracting mannerisms. Filming myself improved my presentation dramatically as I saw all sorts of little things I was doing that I could improve. When you watch your filmed mock interview, take notes.

PROTIP #2: As you get closer to the interview, try to simulate the interview as much as possible and actually do mock interviews in your suit with a panel of your friends/family pretending to be different roles (ie. Kind or strict interviewers). AGAIN, MAKE SURE YOU FILM it. Just use your iPhone or Android device. 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.

Next, do lots of mock interview lessons. There is a very good chance you’ll be asked to do a demonstration lesson. This can be taken as a good sign as the interviewers want to get an idea of how you would fare under pressure and the general vibe you would bring to a new classroom.

During this part of the interview, your interviewers will pretend to be Japanese students either in elementary school or Junior High School. So, they will pretend to be either 6-11 years old or 12 – 15 years old Japanese students.

The most important parts of the demo lesson are to SMILE, use BIG GESTURES, and TALK LOUDLY, CLEARLY, AND SLOWLY

Have your interviewers throw different interview topics at you then roll with it and create a lesson out of it. Remember, you aren’t expected to use Japanese.

You might have a blackboard or whiteboard behind you with some chalk or markers. If you can draw, ask if you can use it for your demo lesson to draw pictures. Otherwise you’ll have to rely on gestures. Be animated and smile. Pretend you are a clown on stage, trying to make children laugh.

Some themes you may be asked to present on:
– holidays
– sports
– introduce your home country
– introduce the history of your home country
– household / common objects
– colours
– shapes
– numbers
– time
– animals
– family members
– clothes
– directions
– weather
– seasons
– useful phrases
– a song (For example you may be asked to teach head shoulders knees and toes)
– your self introduction (How would you introduce yourself to a classroom of students who don’t speak English?)

You’ll also want to improve your improvisational ability. The interview is partially a test of how you fare under pressure and how you recover. Thats why you’ll be thrown curve ball questions designed to rock you. Have your interviewer friend throw a few completely crazy or difficult questions at you and get a feel for finding creative ways to respond.

Step 3: Make sure you will look good for the interview (fashion and grooming)

Look sharp. If you’re a guy, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN A SUIT. Do not be the one idiot who comes to the interview wearing jeans and sneakers. Make sure your suit is tailored and fits well. There’s a HUGE difference between the look of a tailored suit and one that isn’t. You don’t have to spend a lot – a tailored $150 suit will look better than a $1500 suit that doesn’t fit you well. Wear nice, clean shoes. Don’t wear white socks with your suit. Aim to look as clean cut as possible. Get a haircut or at least groom yourself to look your best. This is a job interview. Aim to impress. Play it safe – although you can try to express yourself a little bit with an interesting tie or something.

If you don’t completely trust your own sense of style and fashion, ask your style-conscious friends to critique your interview attire. If you have friends working in a corporate environment where everyone wears a suit and tie, ask them to give you a critique as well. If you don’t have any friends who would do that for you, make a throwaway Reddit account and post a picture of yourself (feel free to blur out your face) on a fashion related subreddit like /r/malefashionadvice.

If you’re a girl, many of the same suggestions apply. Wear a suit or a smart blazer and skirt combo. Don’t try to stand out and be outrageous in your dress, and don’t be too revealing. Look your best.

Again, do NOT be the one guy not wearing a suit. You’ll feel like the moron you are 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.

STEP 4: Preparation for the day of the interview

Preparation for the interview begins the night before. Eat a filling but not heavy or greasy dinner and go to bed early the night before so you don’t risk getting insomnia from nervousness.

Set multiple alarms, and then a couple backup alarms. Put your alarm somewhere you have to physically get up to turn off. If you live with roommates or family, ask them to make sure you wake up. The worst thing you could do at this point is oversleep so have multiple contingencies to make sure that doesn’t happen.

When you wake up, eat a good breakfast, brush your teeth and groom yourself BEFORE PUTTING ON YOUR SUIT. Throw on some anti-perspirant, but go easy on the cologne or perfume. You don’t want your smell to precede you.

Next, 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.

When you leave your house, make sure you have ample time to arrive at your interview location early and to find time to park if you are driving. Don’t eat anything on the way there, and don’t grab any coffee lest you want to risk spilling coffee on yourself. Anticipate variables out of your control like traffic (leave extra early) or strong winds/rain (keep some gel/hair wax in your car), or even total wardrobe malfunction (bring an extra suit and shoes in your car if you have one)

 

STEP 5: Rock the interview

The interview begins the moment you step foot into the interview building. 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.

You’ll be nervous. Everyone will. But you’re an adult and you’ve gotten this far so trust yourself. Everyone else is just as nervous as you are even if they don’t show it. Just try to put your best foot forward, smile, and if you have to – fake your excitement a little bit. Fake it until you make it. Science has shown that if you try to act like how a confident, outgoing person would act, even if you don’t feel like it – just acting that way will make you feel more outgoing and confident.

Oh, make sure you come by yourself. Don’t bring your SO or a family member. I’m sure you aren’t that stupid, but some people really are. I’ve even heard of a guy coming to the interview with a Pokemon backpack. No, no, no.

Once you are in the building, you’ll have to navigate to the area where they are conducting the interviews and will sit inside a waiting room. At least one interview coordinator will be sitting at a desk in the interview waiting room to take your voucher and call you up in turn. Greet the person at the desk, smile and be friendly. They might end up being one of your interviewers.

This is another reason to aim to be a bit early. You don’t want to get to the interview waiting room JUST before the interview coordinator calls you up. That makes you look late, even if you technically weren’t. Aim to come 30-40 minutes early, which gives you a buffer to park, go inside the building, find the interview rooms, go to the bathroom, and sit around in the waiting room for 10-15 minutes.

In the waiting room, you’ll be sitting with lots of other excited and nervous potential JETs. There will probably be a TV at the front of the room playing a video that shows JETs in different prefectures. When you sit down, be amicable, smile and say hi to the people you are sitting beside. Don’t come across as cold – the interview coordinators may be watching you. However, go with the mood of the room – if there is some light and quiet chat between some of the potential JETs, feel free to engage in light chit-chat with the person beside you, but if no one is saying a word, then just say hi to the people around you as you take a seat.
Use the extra time to quickly check through your interview answers, lists, and to mentally prepare yourself.

Eventually you’ll actually be called into the room.

Smile and introduce yourself as you walk in through the door. Just something like “Hi, I’m _____, thanks for having me todayJ”

You’ll be asked to sit down and they will begin asking you questions. Your head may go blank – just try to smile and focus on their questions so you don’t have to ask them to repeat.

Spread your eye contact to all the interviewers. Dont focus on just one, and don’t ignore an interviewer if they don’t say anything.

Lastly, at the end you might be asked if you have any questions so make sure you have at least one prepared. For example,

“If I get accepted, how would you recommend I spend the next few months before departure preparing?”

That’s basically it. Really if you did the work, (prepared answers of the questions, did mock interviews, etc) you’ll just have to trust yourself that you will be okay. In all honesty, it probably won’t be nearly as bad as you think. It’s cliché to say “just have fun with it”, but actually try to enjoy it. You got as far as the interview on your own merits which means you will probably be able to get in. After the interview, try to forget about it for awhile. You’re done – it’s out of your hands now. Meet up with your friends, have a nice dinner, and just chill out.

The hardest part will be waiting for an answer. It might help to start looking into your alternatives if you don’t get into JET. If you still want to come to Japan, start look into applying through private companies or looking through job postings on places like Gaijinpot. Or, if you have alternative that isn’t related to going to Japan, start working towards that a little bit more. Just try not to put yourself in limbo for the next two months. Be proactive and find a new goal to work towards to improve yourself.

Well, that’s about it! I really hope it will end up being useful for you guys preparing for your interview.

Dealing with JET Interview stress

All current and former JETs know about the terrible anxiety and stress that comes with the official JET Programme Waiting Game (TM). As a recap and for those unaware, the application process opens sometime in late September or early October and begins with a paper application that must be completed by the end of November. After filling out a massive 40 page application, writing a stunning essay and collecting two of the most saccharine references of one`s life, so begins the massive wait until interview notifications are sent out in January. The interview takes place in mid to late February. You dont find out if you made it until mid April.

At this time, prospective JETs have either just had their interviews or will be having them very shortly. I vividly remember the many nights I spent preparing for the interview like a madman and my heart goes out to all of you who are going through this. Right now though, I`m actually going through the stress of the interview again as well!

Three of my friends (two of whom I am extremely close with) have their JET interviews next week. So for the past couple months, their stress has been my stress. It`s like deja vu stress! And here I was thinking I was past all that. This past week, I have been helping them practice by doing mock interviews, and today we spent 4 hours over Skype practicing. I truly believe if you haven`t had your interview yet, you mock interviews are the most practical way to use your remaining time to prepare.

I wish all you guys who are applying for this year tons of luck. By this point, you`ve either done all you can or are brushing up last minute for the big day next week. Either way, I`m sure if you`re reading this, you`ve gone through every forum post, every JET video on youtube, and read every possible morsel of advice you can find. I don`t know if theres much more I can offer (I already wrote a massive post on the interview here) but let me just give you something to think about. This is what you will feel in the waiting room right before you are called in and how you can prepare for it in those final seconds.

As you sit in that stuffy waiting room, watching the incredibly cheerful JET Life video playing on the TV (which will seem to be far too cheerful for the occasion) you will most likely feel the symptoms of (at best) nervousness or (more normal) absolute dread. As the adrenaline kicks in, your palms will start to sweat, your heart rate will increase, and your mind will jump back and forth between flashes of certain doom and total victory as you try to remember your notes and hours of mock interviews.

Breathe. In. Out. Deep breaths. Feel the air filling your chest and flowing out you. Notice how curiously, you aren`t nervous – your BODY is just displaying the symptoms of nervousness. There is no need to identify with it. You can just observe it from inside your own head and acknowledge the process that is passing through your body. Smile to yourself and remember its only a big deal if you make it a big deal.

It won`t be that bad. If you are reading this, you will probably have prepared for the worse case scenario. Even if you get the dreaded war tribunal panel, you know this is just their way of trying to smoke you out. Just keep smiling, laugh at yourself if you mess up somewhere, and thank the interviewers for their time.


This is your moment. Seize it.

Good luck everyone. See you on the other side.

How to Apply to the JET Programme

If you`ve been following my blog for awhile, you may occasionally think to yourself,  “Gee, Apollo is having such a great time in Japan! How I would love to be able to do that as well, instead of just sitting here and reading about it!”

Well the good thing is as long as you meet several basic criteria, then you definitely have a shot at participating in the JET Programme as well. If you feel that this might be something you would be interested in doing, then please read on. I will share with you my thoughts and advice on how to put together a strong application for the JET Programme. For those reading this circa November 2010, I would advise you to get on it ASAP. The application must be postdated and sent out by NOVEMBER 30, 2010.

For Canadians applicants, the application can be found here:

http://www.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/jetcanada/Application_%20forms_%20and_%20instructions_%20for_%20Canadian_%20citizens.html

The basic requirements for Canadian citizens (taken directly from the JET application) are as following:

All JET Programme applicants must:

– Be interested in Japan

– Be a Canadian citizen (not just a permanent resident) at the time of application.

– Be no older than around 40 years of age

– Have a Bachelor’s degree or obtain one by July 24, 2011

From this list, one can surmise that the basic requirements are not difficult to meet. However, the programme is quite competitive and your chances of getting in are roughly 20-25%. My theory is that a large proportion of the comparatively underqualified applicants are cut at the paper application stage.  Many JETs believe that if you make it to the interview, then your chances of getting in shoot up significantly (60%+ by my estimate). Thus if you are a strong candidate from the beginning, your chances of getting in are much higher than 20-25%.

Before we delve into the specifics, I want to mention that if you are thinking about applying to JET, you should give it some long hard thought. Do you feel that you are a good fit for the program? Do you feel that your life experiences, qualifications and character traits make you a reasonably competitive applicant relative to the other applicants? I don`t know exactly what constitutes a competitive applicant, but I suspect they would have a good mix of the following:

1. A demonstrable interest in Japan

2. International experience

3. Leadership/extra-curricular experience

4. Very strong English writing and speaking skills (for the essay and interview)

The reason I mention this is because the JET application process is arduously long and brutal. The application usually comes out sometime in September or October and is due at the end of November. Following that, you wait until January to find out if you got an interview, and even if you move on to the interview stage in February, you still don`t find out until mid April if you have been accepted. If you are placed on the alternate waiting list, you have to wait even longer, with no guarantee of being upgraded. It`s like being in purgatory, only worse, because you have no idea if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

This means that if you want to have a decent shot at being accepted, you better

a) truly believe you are a competitive candidate

b) give the application 100% of your effort. Not 99%, not 99.99%, but 100%.

c) be prepared to lose a LOT of sleep and stress over your acceptance anyway

That being said, It seems that the JET applicant pool is a pretty self selecting group. Although there are definitely some whackos, weirdos, and weeaboos that apply (and some who get in), most of them get filtered out in the paper application and interview stages, and for the most part the caliber of JETs (from Toronto at least) are pretty high.

If at this point, you`re still here reading this, then congrats, you must consider yourself to be pretty awesome. That`s just the first step. Now we can delve into the nitty gritty of how to make your paper application as strong as possible.

There are there main parts to the JET application

1. The paper application

2. The 2 reference letters

3. The Statement of Purpose personal essay

The paper application is really long. It`s something like 40 pages. There is a lot of stuff to complete and collect such as a self-assessment medical form and a copy of your university transcript. Its tedious but more or less straight forward. There is an important question that deserves consideration though. Question 16 asks you to list two placement requests as well as whether you want an urban/semi-urban/rural placement.

Some people say that you should just put down N for No Preference. The thinking is that if you put N, it suggests you are flexible and will go wherever JET decides to send you.

In my opinion, it is much better to be as specific as possible. Not only does this suggest that you actually did your homework and researched where you want to live, but it also minimizes the chance that you will be stuck all the way out in the inaka (Japanese rural countryside). Some prospective JETs rationalize that they would be happy being placed ANYWHERE in Japan, as long as they get to come here. This is foolish thinking and a dangerous gamble. You might be stuck in a tiny mountain village of 300 people, 100km in any direction from the nearest small town. So be smart, do a bit of research online and specify SOME kind of placement.

Just don`t write down Tokyo; no JETs actually get placed in downtown Tokyo, and there is a slim but nevertheless none zero chance that you could get placed on a tiny island off the coast of Tokyo Bay that is technically still within Tokyo`s jurisdiction.

Moving on, the application is your chance to list off your academic credentials, awards, extra-curricular activities, work experience, and international experience. It`s probably a good idea to have things to fill these sections out as thoroughly as possible. The ease by which you can fill them out will probably give you a decent indication of how competitive of an applicant you are.

Contrary to what many people think, you do not need to have majored in Japanese, English, or even any “Japan” or teaching related field to get into JET. I have met people with all kinds of educational backgrounds who have gotten into JET. However come interview time, you may be asked how your field of study relates to teaching English in Japan.  Don`t worry, you`ll have ample time to think of something.

Your academic performance is also not as heavily weighted as you might think. The only important thing is that you have a DEGREE. I know this because my undergraduate career was filled with many ups and downs and I still managed to get here.

Now onto the two most important parts of the application: References and SOP.

It is absolutely crucial that you get two amazing references. This could take some time, so it is best to get it done AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. In my case, it took several months of consistently hounding one of my professors to write me what I`m sure was an amazing reference.  The references are blind to you which means you will have no idea what your referee wrote. Thus it is absolutely imperative that you KNOW you`ve gotten good references.

To that end, it is best to get a reference from someone who has actually gotten to know you well enough to write you a strong personal recommendation. This means that if you were just a faceless number in a class of 100 students, the reference you secure from your professor probably won`t be worth much.

Once you`ve got your references, you can focus on the Statement of Purpose. This is it. This is the canvas upon which you will paint an image of yourself so captivating that the words jump off the pages and leave the reader mesmerized by your greatness. This simply needs to be no less than THE BEST essay you have ever written. If by the time you send in your SOP, there is any doubt in your mind that it is not The Greatest Thing You Have Ever Put To Written Word, then it needs another draft or rewrite.

I went through about 12 drafts between 3 or 4 complete rewrites. Each time it got marginally better and better. By the end, I was confident it was the best I could do given the time constraint.

Your SOP must be absolutely free from grammatical and spelling errors. On a technical level, it must be perfect. As for what to write in the essay itself – well that part is up to you. I can however offer a few bits of advice which guided my writing.

–    Have an overarching theme to tie your SOP together. This will make your essay stand out from the pile. I bet I was remembered as the “martial arts guy” because that was my overarching theme.

–    For the love of God, DO NOT talk about your love of anime, Hello Kitty and Japanese dramas. DO NOT REVEAL YOUSELF TO BE A WEEABOO.

–    Communicate the ways in which you ADD UNIQUE VALUE to the JET Programme. What about YOU makes you stand out as an asset towards international exchange? This is extremely important. Many people make the mistake of talking too much about why they want to come to Japan and what the experience can do for THEM. This is a value-taking mindset.  You need to communicate what you yourself have to offer.

–    Use keywords and phrases from the application. Taken directly from the 2010 application:

Adaptable & flexible – To new situations; Managing stress; Understanding of cultural differences; Open-minded.

Friendly & outgoing – Easily approachable; Willing to meet new people; Good sense of humour.

Professional – Commitment to doing a good job; Working well with others; Respects work environment.

Motivated – Willing to get involved in the community; As interested in learning as in teaching; Wants to explore Japan.

Eventually you`ll have everything you need. Make sure you follow directions and package everything as directed. I remember in my case, we were asked to bind everything with paperclips. If I stapled the sheets together, I bet that would have disqualified me. Do not take any chances, paying absolute attention to detail is of paramount importance. At this point you don`t want to disqualify yourself over something as stupid as a staple.

Finally you`ll be able to send in your application. Make sure it`s clearly postdated before the due date at your consulate. After that, drop it off at your nearest post office and go get a drink. You earned it. Now comes the hard part – the waiting.

And that about covers it for the application! Hopefully this guide gave you some things to think about, dear prospective JET. Drop me a line in the comments down below if you think I forgot something, and feel free to offer up your own ideas as well if you`re already a current JET.

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! “.