d45d0c6cc48a582187a8f91d44f365a6_sDuring job interviews, a number of companies ask student applicants about their leadership experiences, then, the applicants respond to the question by introducing their stories as a leader, typically at part-time jobs or club activities.


“I contributed to boosting the sales of the convenience store I worked at as a leader of part-time employees.”

“I was a leader of a university student club and managed many members.”


Like above, how many times do student applicants need to present their orthodox leadership stories? Interviewers must be thinking “all the leadership stories are alike” while students are wondering why companies are interested in such stories.


 In fact, I have received the following question from a student.

“Why interviewers ask job applicants to speak about leadership. We will not become a manager that fast. Plus, just a fraction of us can join the management. Why now ‘Leadership’? ”


I think working adults and students consider “leadership” differently. I assume students feel job interviewers ask them to talk about their experiences to manage people, give some advice to their friends or work in a team towards a goal and so on, to gauge their capability as a leader. However, interviewers are actually seeking a different element.


Interviewers are not examining how much capable the student is to lead a team. Then, what are they trying to measure?

To tell the truth, interviews are, in most cases, surveying whether he/she is responsible enough to take jobs everybody would avoid.


 No textbook or advice can instill this kind of willingness into students. In addition, working adults will not be imbued with it simply because they are now “working adults”. This “responsibility” will be nurtured over time and therefore, reflects the life. It is all about a sense of “I am part of the whole”.



Unlike foreign corporations, Japanese companies do not define who is responsible for each task. In short, there is no clear border between “my responsibility task” and “your responsibility task”.

 Therefore, many Japanese companies value employees who do not say “This is not my job” at work. Those who say “This is not my job” frequently will certainly lose trust in co-workers. Companies in Japan are looking for those who voluntarily run and catch a fly ball to center.


Please note I am not trying to discuss whether this is good or bad here.

If he/she is willing to do every job, he/she might be required to work extra that do not meet his/her salary or might be pushed to work extremely hard due to task concentration.

The “responsibility” could inflict such problems on “responsible” employees, but the “responsibility” is highly valued in Japan. There is no doubt about it.


Here is the thing. In Japan, “leadership” is not a quality to take initiative as a leader but an ability to find and complete tasks that are overlooked by others.

With questions regarding “leadership”, companies are screening students with the ability.


To be honest, Japanese companies do not want to hire employees who say “This is not my job”. This is the reality. 



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