Tips on Dressing for Interviews and Work in Japan

Oct 10, 2017

Common practices in job searching or job interviews reflects cultural characteristics. Hence it is suggested that you know about the common practices in the country where you are looking for a job, especially if you are entirely new to the local culture. This article focuses on outfits that are appropriate in job-related circumstances.


Importance of choosing correct outfits


In Japan, choosing the appropriate outfit for workplace is considered important in that how you look will determine the first impression that you have on others. Those who are looking to get hired must interview for a job, and the most important point here is that you take the perspective of others into consideration when choosing an outfit, rather than your own comfort. Wearing an appropriate outfit will demonstrate your attitude toward work or the organization you work for, which gives the impression of reliability, both your own and your company’s. Some people might think it is fine to express themselves with their outfits, as their inner self is more important than outside appearances. This may be true in their private life, but it is not so when it comes to employment in Japanese society.


3 Tips For Work-Related Outfits


There are three key points to be made when choosing outfits for work in general.


First and most importantly, you should wear your outfits with decency and cleanliness. It is necessary not only for presenting yourself in best-possible manner, but also for being considerate and inoffensive toward others. You should keep your clothing and shoes clean with no stains or anything that gives unkempt impressions.


Secondly, you should choose an outfit suitable for the specific company you work for. It will reflect your situational judgement skills in that it shows you understand what you are required to do in the given environment. You might wear outfits in darker colors for a company where formality matters, or a bit more fashionable outfits for an apparel industry where a particular sense is required.


Lastly, you must make sure to wear outfits that fit your body. The outfits with loose-fitting sizes or designs unsuitable for you will call into question your self-management skills and could give negative impressions about you to others, even though the outfit itself is in good quality or design.


It should be understood that taking care of your appearance is not just about your outfit, but also about things like hair, nails, facial hair for men and make-up for women. That said, it is vitally important to be mindful about how you dress in order to present yourself in a decent, clean, work-appropriate manner.



Appropriate outfits


Many may wonder what they should wear for job hunting in Japan, considering the important role that outfits play in terms of first impressions. For instance, the appropriate outfit for a job interview is dependent on your career status.


For a full-time position (New graduate)

Generally, new graduates will wear so-called “recruit suits”, which are business suits in plain black, navy or gray, and designed particularly for those who are new to full-time employment. Usually white shirts are to be worn with such suits. Because harmony in the group is considered very important in Japanese society, showing off yourself just to stand out from others is not a great presentation, and recruit suits are designed to help interviewees to keep it moderate in favor of blending in. The price range for these suits varies between a few thousand to beyond a hundred thousand yen, but there is no need for students to choose any of the expensive options.


For a full-time position (Career change)

Unlike new graduates, career changers should not wear recruit suits. The suits may give an impression of immaturity as they are designed for those who are just starting a career, so it is not suitable for people who have already established and developed their skills. Career changers can be more flexible in choosing an outfit for a job interview, but its best to avoid wearing overly flashy, expensive suits that distract from a fair evaluation on your previous experience and skills by the interviewers.


For a part-time position

Even for a part-time position, interviewees should take care when selecting their outfit. Having said that, it could be a little more relaxed to some extent, with the degree dependent on what sort of jobs you apply for. Generally, simple, clean outfits will do, but jeans and sneakers are not appropriate for job interviews, even relatively casual jobs.


Appropriate outfits for commuting


What about the appropriate outfits after the commencement of employment? Most companies have their own dress code. At some organizations, practices including “Cool Biz” or “Casual Friday” are in place. Most recently, the term “Office Casual” has become common everywhere, which is a dress code meaning there is no need to wear formal business suits, although clothing should still be appropriate for the work environment.


It is always safer to wear a business suit, or at least a jacket and pants or a skirt when on the job. But there may be cases where casual outfits are preferable or uniforms are provided, so it is always advisable to confirm the dress code with the company by asking directly or learning from other employees so you can avoid a faux pas on your first day. Also, it is very important to ensure, as a business person, you try not to give off an unpleasant vibe to others. You should always remind yourself how others think about your appearance at work.


Present Yourself in the Best Way


Presenting yourself in an appropriate fashion is a very important factor that contributes to determining your impression at work. Therefore, it should be considered important as a measure to appealing your experience, skills, capabilities, personality, and attitude toward work. The practices in choosing outfits in Japan may be different from those in other countries, however, adapting them as needed for different occasions will contribute to the success of your career development in Japan.


All the best!





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