Posts Tagged job interview

December 31, 2015 part 1 – Hostess Bar Job Interview


My friend Okonomi and I started our night out in Noborito with dinner, drinks, drinks, karaoke, and drinks. It was now 3:00am, a few hours away from the first train, and all of the regular bars were full. Okonomi suggested we got to a hostess bar instead.

A hostess bar is a place where well dressed, attractive women pour your drinks, laugh at your jokes, compliment your karaoke, and generally make you feel important. Of course, this doesn’t come cheap: drinks are overpriced and you pay an hourly rate for companionship. Okonomi suggested the Filipino hostess bar near the station, because the rate was only 4000 yen per hour. Since I was drunk, on holidays, and not wanting to sit around a train station for a few hours until the first train came, I agreed and we were on our way.

While we were walking (stumbling) to the hostess bar, Okonomi had told me that she had considered trying to find a job at a hostess bar to supplement her teaching income. Being able to maintain a conversation with students is a useful skill that can be transferred to a hostess job, the money could be pretty good, and there would be lots of free drinks. It would also be a great way to improve her Japanese in a hurry.

Upon entering, we were shown to a table by two beautiful women in evening dresses, and we ordered some drinks for both us and our hostesses. We all talked in English, Japanese, Okonomi impressed with the little bit of Tagalog that she knew. We took turns doing yet more karaoke, and had a good time hanging out. Despite the late hour and the fact that we were obviously drunk and not Japanese, the hostesses worked hard to make sure we were having fun.

Okonomi started asking our hostesses about how they liked working at the bar, and mentioned that she had considered it before. Within minutes the mama-san (bar manager) was over at the table having a conversation with her in Japanese. The offhand comment had suddenly turned into a job interview on the spot! Mama-san asked Okonomi about her availability, and asked her to stand up and turn around. After a few minutes of talking, Mama-san said that Okonomi’s Japanese would need to improve a little, but then gave Okonomi her business card and told her to keep in touch.

When I left Canada to teach English in Japan I knew I was going to have some interesting experiences. I never imagined that I would be watching a friend get an impromptu job interview in a hostess club sometime after 4:00am on an epic night out.

We left close to 5:00am, tired and drunk, and with our wallets feeling lighter. The hostess bar was close to Noborito station, where we caught the first train to Shin-yurigaoka. I had switched to non-alcoholic drinks at the hostess bar, so I was a little more sober than Okonomi. This presented a problem because her apartment was about a 20 minute walk up hills, and I had no idea where it was. We decided to get a taxi instead.

By the time we actually found a cab, Okonomi’s impressive language skills had deteriorated quite a bit. Since street addresses mean nothing in Japan, we had to give the driver landmarks and turn by turn instructinos. Okonomi kept slurring and switching languages, leaving me to translate for the driver. The taxi driver did not seem very sad to be rid of us.

We finally got to sleep around 6:00, knowing that we were in for a painful day.

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The Jet Programme

One day in my Intermediate Japanese class the professor told us about an upcoming seminar about opportunities to work and learn in Japan. I attended the seminar and learned about The Jet Programme. The Jet Programme is a long running Japanese government program to bring foreign English teachers to Japan. Being a JET teacher gets you a free trip to Japan, housing subsidies and a juicy tax free salary. The work all takes place at public schools. The downside is that many of the teaching positions are in small towns in the middle of nowhere.

Overall things sounded good, so I filled out the extensive application forms and sent them in for processing. I was contacted some time later to set up an interview at the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Culture Centre. To prepare for my interview I did a lot of online research about Japan and found some blogs written by people who had lived and taught in Japan.

My JET interview could have gone better. The interviewers were 3 intense looking people in suits who asked a lot of tough questions; why did I want to teach, how would I cope if I was the only foreigner in a small town, would I be okay if the teacher just wanted me to pronounce a list of words to the class, things like that. One of the things they focused on was my business degree. They wanted me to explain how an accounting degree would make me qualified to teach English. I answered that because I had practice explaining accounting concepts to non accounting people I could explain English to non English speakers. I made a reasonably good showing until the ending, where they decided to test my general knowledge of Japan. When I was unable to correctly name the emperor it pretty much sealed my fate.

I got a rejection letter a few weeks after the interview and discussed it with my Japanese prof. She told me that one of my classmates had been hired, but she thought I would have been a much better choice. Apparently the JET interviewers were giving preference to arts and education degrees, and my business degree was a major obstacle.

I was feeling pretty down about not getting hired. The Ex sympathized, but I think she was a little relieved that I would not be leaving the country for a year. I decided instead of giving up, I would find another place to teach English and be the best English teacher that the country had seen. I didn’t quite get that good, but I do believe that the JET Programme missed out.

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