I promised a second part to my primer for hopeful JET applicants. For those of you who got letters for interviews, congratulations! Now it's time to prove yourself.
There isn't too much I can say on the interview - probably everyone who's applying for JET will have been interviewed for something before. The same rules apply - dress smartly, be polite and show what you're made of.
The interview day is in two stages. After arriving and sitting around, possibly being able to watch the most recent JET promotional video, you'll be asked to sit a short test. For anyone who's done the Cambridge CELTA and remembers the pre-course tasks, it's a bit like that, but simpler. It takes 5-10 minutes. You don't have to know any complicated grammar, but you do have to correct a short piece of writing. It also tests things like vocabulary, asking you to match a word with one of three/four synonyms. The test isn't the kind of thing you can prepare for, since you don't know exactly what will come up, but it's not something to worry about. I know I got at least one thing wrong from my test, and I made it through.
The most important part of the day is the actual interview. It is usually conducted by one native English speaker and one Japanese person. The interview is designed to find out if you are up to being a teacher and working with students, and, perhaps more importantly, whether you will be able to live in a foreign country for an extended period of time.
There are no right answers to the questions they will ask, but here are my hot tips:
-stress the importance of communication skills in language learning, particularly oral communication
-show due deference to the admittedly broken approach to teaching in Japan - show you're willing to work with the system to improve things
-remember you will be team teaching, so stress your willingness to cooperate with experience Japanese teachers of English
-have some ideas for classroom activities you'd like to try - games and tasks with a focus on communication and learning
On living abroad:
-they will ask at least one question about how you think you will get on in a foreign country
-stress any prior experience of travel or living abroad you have
-be prepared for apparently irrelevant questions - I got "What do you eat?" from the Japanese guy at my interview (possibly poor English on his part) and I was like "What has that got to do with anything?" and spluttered nonsense until I realised I was being asked if I'd be able to get by on Japanese food, albeit in a retarded way
-try to have some knowledge of Japan's socio-economic situation/current political climate. I wasn't asked what I knew about Japan, but I'm aware of others who have. Check out the English websites of Asahi Shimbun, Japan Times or Daily Yomiura to get a feel for things
-of course, show your willingness, nay - eagerness to learn the Japanese language. You've already learned hiragana, you say, and can't wait to learn katakana and some kanji.
If you keep these things in mind it should stand you in good stead.