Now that you’ve gotten an interview lined up in Japan, you’re probably wondering what the dress code is for interview attire.
Generally, a traditional interview outfit for women is conservative in fashion--black blazers, black bottoms, and white button-down shirts is the dress code seen in Japan come March during the start of the shukatsu (job search) season.
Continue reading to learn in-depth what kind of bottoms and tops to look for, the fit and style to wear, where to buy your interview outfit, and other style tips to get a professional look that will get you the job in Japan.
Come wearing a suit. For the color, the most traditional shade, by far, is black. You will see nearly every college student in Japan searching for jobs in black. It is not required that you wear black, but Japanese interviews focus on the content of your answers rather than individual fashion sense.
You can also choose conservative colors, like navy or gray, but try to avoid bright colors for the interview time.
The fit and type of the top and bottom should be neither too tight nor too loose. They should be the same exact shade--you can often buy them together as a set. For the blazer, in addition to checking the sleeve and shoulder-fit, you should fasten the top or middle button during the interview. Make sure it is a comfortable fit.
For the bottoms, you can choose either a skirt or pants. If you decide to wear a skirt, keep in mind the length when you try it on. It should end around knee-length when standing, and not ride up much when you sit down.
When you purchase the skirt, it is common practice to wear stockings or tights underneath. Wear tan, skin color tights that go with your complexion as opposed to black.
Make note that your skirt will likely have a small slit in the back that is stitched together when you purchase it. Be sure to undo the stitch carefully with small scissors before your interview.
What you wear underneath the blazer is also critical. The standard top is a white button down with a collar. It pairs well with a suit and looks smart. At the time of the interview, make sure it is not wrinkled or stained. Button the shirt up to the collar as long is it is at a comfortable position.
If you don’t have a white collared shirt, you can wear a blouse with a similar look. Go for a formal top that is plain white, or off-white in color, and fits you well. It shouldn’t have a strong pattern or a low neckline.
Similar to everything else in this outfit, keep your accessories as simple as possible. Choose low, plain black heels for your feet. They will be more comfortable to wear than wearing something with height.
Your handbag will be another understated piece--go for a black bag that can fit an A4-size folder. This will hold your resume, business card, and other necessary documents.
You can wear conservative jewelry if you want to accessorize, but wear it minimally. This will also prevent you from fidgeting with anything during the interview.
The interview apparel above is something you will likely wear repeated times, for many several interviews at different companies. We therefore spending money and time picking out high-quality clothing that you like. There are shops throughout Japan where you can buy interview suits, blouses, and accessories at reasonable prices.
One option is Yofuku no Aoyama, a well-known nationwide chain with shops in nearly every prefecture in Japan. The style selection is very large, so you will likely not have any trouble finding something you like. You will be able to buy a high-quality blazer, blouse, and bottoms for around a total of 25,000 to 30,000 yen.
If you are on a budget and are looking for convenience, you will also find UNIQLO blazers and suits at relatively inexpensive prices. UNIQLO is worldwide Japanese fashion chain, known for making reasonably-priced basic apparel. You can buy a blazer, bottoms, and a shirt for around 15,000 yen in total.
You will likely find a small selection at UNIQLO and Yofuku no Aoyama with shoes and handbags.
In addition to your attire, your hair and makeup should be kept simple to give off the best first impression you can. Your hair and face will be mainly what your interviewer will be noticing, in fact.
For hairstyles, it is recommended to have your hair out of your face and kept neat. Most people will pull back their hair in a ponytail or straighten it into a simple style.
Your make up should ideally be minimal with a foundation or powder that matches your skin, and lightly accentuate your eyes and cheeks. Avoid colorful lips and dark or bright eye makeup.
However, if you don’t normally wear cosmetics, it may feel uncomfortable to wear just for the interview. There is no need to put it on if you aren’t used to doing so.
Interviewing in Japan is an exciting but nerve-wracking process. Figuring out what to wear is another aspect that worries many people.
However, keeping in mind the tips listed above, the appropriate dress code in Japan is relatively straightforward. Sticking to modest, black and white pieces will let you focus on what really matters--conveying your strengths to the interviewer and getting closer to your dream career.
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