Interview Body Language in Japan

Although famously known for its deviant use of aquatic animal appendages in erotic literature, Japan is a great place to work. It’s home to some of the most innovative, famous and successful video game and tech companies in the world, and has a thriving automotive industry. Due to its location (and arguably its taste for the deviant use of aquatic animal appendages, the nerds and creeps will know) Japan has its own unique cultural and social practices that may seem very alien to the average westerner. But you want to break into the video game industry and finally publish your brain-child: Naked Jelly Donut Puncher. Well, you are going to have to go through an interview process much like you would back home, but there are a few particular things you should do in the Land of the Rising Sun, to avoid an embarrassing cultural faux pa and land that job.

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That Special Touch

The first impulse we strange westerners have when meeting a person of influence or power is to grab their hand in a firm and deliberate handshake. It shows respect, assertiveness and confidence. All things (expect the respect thing) which are considered rude in Japan. Let’s not even get into the handshake which is an out and out social misnomer. That includes the western appropriate pat on the back, handshake with forearm touch and the always friendly scrotal tap…wait I can’t be the only one to perform a scrotal tap at business meetings, can I?

Bowing is the most appropriate type of greeting in Japan. If you’re a woman, you do so by bending at the waist as your hands rest on the top of your legs. And if you’re a man you bend the same way, but place your arms at your sides with your palms facing towards your legs. Much like prison, Japan has a strict rule of no touching while the lights are on.


Yes smiling, although in western cultures (except some) smiling is a gesture of openness and joviality. In Japan, the smile has many different meanings dependent on the context. Many times it’s used to mask other more extreme emotions such as embarrassment, anger and disappointment. This is especially true of the toothy, broad (and often fake) smiles of the West, which Japanese have a highly developed ability to figure out.

The reason for this is the Japanese often read faces using the eyes and not the mouth. Fake smiles are most easily discerned from the eyes, so not only can a smile be misunderstood as a negative emotion, it can be taken as complete deception. Not exactly what you want to convey in an interview.

Pocket Hands and Posture

Well, because my word count is adding up quickly I am going to have to bring this informative piece of internet content to an end. Last few pieces of advice: keep your hands out of your pockets because the Japanese consider that a pose of insubordination and arrogance. Keep them on top of your legs when you are sitting. Make sure you are not showing the bottom of your shoes when you are sitting (so ixnay on the legs straight up in the air sex position-sitting style you love) and sit up with your back against the chair’s back support.

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Do you have any other recommendations when it comes to conducting yourself in an interview in Japan? Let us know in the comment section below.