Springtime in Japan. Cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the smell of outdoor barbecues linger in the air, and thousands of university students in identical suits roam the subways of Tokyo and Osaka, participating in the decades-old tradition of 就活 shukatsu (job-hunting). April marks the beginning of hiring season in Japan and the first step for soon to-be-graduates to secure their place in “Japan Inc.”
Like all rituals, there are strict rules to be followed. Large companies like Toyota, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi have long held the most coveted positions, though their hiring processes are defined by a rigid, out-of-date recruitment system. Standardized tests and predictable questions are the norm. Job seekers, most of who have read Mensetsu no Tatsujin (Interview Master), long regarded as the bible of interview technique, have refined their interview techniques in anticipation of what to say.
The class of 2013 can expect something different at Sony though. Breaking from the norm, in hopes of luring creative individuals and distinguishing itself from it’s competitors, the company has changed the way interviews will be conducted.
“We want to find the individual quirks of each applicant,” said Sony spokeswoman Satsuki Shinnaka. “We want them to come at us with opinions and thoughts indicative of their individuality instead of an answer they read in a book that says ‘Sony will consider you to be a good match (with the company) if you answer like so.’”
By replacing formulaic questions and rote answers with authentic conversation, role-plays, proposal planning and discussion groups, Sony believes they will find individuals that will inject creativity into the company.
“We want them to be themselves. Feel that it’s ok to talk to us using simple words unconstrained by formalities,” said Ms. Shinnaka. By relaxing the wardrobe standard, she hopes to raise the interviewees’ comfort level.
Sony is also opening recruitment to individuals who have been out of college for more than three years, a demographic that is usually viewed negatively. Applicants who did something other than enter the job market immediately after graduation will not shunned. Study abroad and self-employment will be looked upon favorably. Sony anticipates that these innovations will be the catalyst to winning back its competitive edge.
Quote Source: Yoree Koh, Wall Street Journal