Analyzing job-interview discourse of Japanese university students

Author: Masahiko Nose, Takumi Okumura (Shiga University)
Speaker: Masahiko Nose, Takumi Okumura
Topic: Language, dialect, sociolect, genre
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


This study investigated job-interview discourse in Japanese. By analyzing them, this study will try to clarify speaker’s usages in the interview interaction (Dooley and Levinsohn 2001). Recently, many studies have clarified the various characteristics of the spoken Japanese, by analyzing discourses such as doctor-patient conversation, coffee talk and so on. Nevertheless, there is room for observing other specific discourses in Japanese. This study chose job-interview discourse, a kind of business discourse, (cf. Bargiela-Chiappini et al. 2013) because this type of discourse might be confidential and is hard to be recorded.

Traditionally, many university students in Japan start looking for new job, when they are at final year of the university. The students apply for some companies and then, they are invited to the job interview. In the case of the job-interview, students are not accustomed to behaving like professional business people, and thus they sometimes speak impolitely or casually. This study distinguished between student-mode and business-mode, and this study aims to clarify their differences in discourse.

It is not possible to record genuine job interview on the spot, and instead we have set up mock interview by cooperating with the job-support office at the author’s university. This study collected three interview data (approximately 15 minutes each) and analyzed them.

(1) Extract (Interview) 1: 5:20
01: boku-mo sono sugata-wo manete isshoni momotte ikitaina-to
02: omottakara, (“as I thought”: casual speaking)
03: omoimashita-node (“as I thought”: polite speaking)
(“As I think that I behave in such a way that the policeman protected them”)

In (1), the speaker (the student who wants to become a policeman in the interview) first used the casual speaking (or student-mode) (01), but immediately he changed to the polite speaking (or business mode) (02).
This study claims that the speakers in job interviews try to speak like business person, because they want to give a good impression to the interviewer. Nevertheless, they frequently speak the casual speaking (students sociolect) by error.


Bargiela-Chiappini, F., Nickerson, C., & Planken, B. 2013. What is Business Discourse?. In Business Discourse (pp. 3-44). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Dooley, R. A. and Levinsohn, S. H. 2001. Analyzing discourse: a manual of basic concepts. SIL International.

Keywords: Japan, Job Interviews, Discourse Analysis