Written exams

A written exam might be the first challenge that you would face when you start job hunting in Japan. This test is usually in Japanese, and foreign students are often expected to take the same exam as Japanese students. Accordingly, you are required to be able to read and understand Japanese to prepare for this exam. The type of exam varies depending on the company, so it is advisable to do thorough research and get yourself ready if you want to receive a job offer from your dream company. Here is an overview of written exams and some important information.

How to approach the exam

There are various ways to take these written exams during job hunting, and the common approaches are as follows:

  1. Web test at a testing location
  2. Web test at home
  3. Paper test at a testing location or company office

Web test at a testing location

One way is to go to a specified testing location for a web test. You have to book a date and location on the Internet in advance. Testing locations can be found in many major cities all over Japan including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka. During peak job hunting season, you sometimes find more locations available than usual. After you get the results, you can send them to multiple companies for the screening process so this is often the most efficient approach to doing the test.

Web test at home

You can also take a web test at home. The benefit of this approach is you can take the test anytime and anywhere within a specified time period. However, it is necessary to make sure you have a stable Internet connection and shut out all noise and distractions during the test.

Paper test at a company office or testing location

When taking a paper test, you have to go to a company office or a specified testing location and sit the exam with other applicants. You will be asked to write your answers on an answer sheet, just like typical Japanese university entrance exams. This type of paper test is common when companies provide their own exams. One outstanding feature of this test is that companies can ensure there will be no possibility of cheating, unlike with web tests.

Types of written exams

There are various types of written exams and sometimes companies provide their own exams. The common types are as follows:

  • Aptitude tests – including the SPI3, CAB”, GAB in which you are required to answer close-ended questions.
  • General knowledge tests – including questions from various fields such as Japanese, social studies, English, mathematics, science, and current affairs.
  • Compositions and essays – in which you are required to write about your ideas and opinions on a given topic.

The SPI3 is the most commonly used test. What is it?

Let us take a closer look at the SPI3 (Synthetic Personality Inventory), the test most commonly used by Japanese companies in their recruitment process. In 2017, 12,600 Japanese companies required the test be taken by their candidates, totaling 2,000,000. It is no exaggeration to say that you simply have no choice but to study for the SPI3 when job hunting in Japan.

The SPI3 is divided into two parts. The first part is the competency aptitude test and you will be given 35 minutes to answer all the questions. The second part is the personality aptitude test and you will be given 30 minutes to finish this section. The competency aptitude test consists of a language section and a non-language section. The personality aptitude test is to evaluate one’s adaptability to professional duties and organizations.

The language section of the competency aptitude test is to assess your Japanese proficiency, communication and writing ability. The non-language section is to assess your calculation ability, ability to think logically and process business operations.

In the personality aptitude test, you will be asked to answer about 200 yes-no questions. One thing to emphasize about the SPI3 personality test is that there is lie detection mechanisms utilized to spot whether you are responding truthfully to the questions. Therefore, you cannot choose answers that are different from your genuine personality or usual behavioral patterns. Even if you try to adjust your answers to appear to be a more employable person, the lie detection mechanisms will indicate how genuine your answers actually are. For that reason, it is better to choose answers intuitively in the personality aptitude test.

Tips to take the SPI3

If you are planning to take the SPI3, read through the tips below and prepare thoroughly.

  • Get used to the question patterns
  • Carefully allocate time
  • When in doubt, choose answers by process of elimination
  • Be intuitive in the personality aptitude test

Since the question format of the SPI3 is consistent, make sure you buy a study resource in advance to get used to the various types of questions, and revise using the material several times. During the test, be extremely careful how you allocate time as you are required to answer a large number of questions in a short amount of time. One thing to do when in doubt is to either skip the question and go back later if you have time, or choose an answer by process of elimination. Time management is the key to answering all the questions, so try not to become too obsessed with one question.

Once again, try to be intuitive when answering the personality aptitude test. The intention of this test is to screen candidates sincerely so if you fake your answers and are then hired by the company, you would have difficulty adjusting. Honesty is the key to finding a company that matches your personality.

Try to follow this advice and prepare thoroughly, so that you can get a successful result.

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