My JET Program 2012 Melbourne Interview Experience + Bonus Advice

This is going to be a long long longpost!!!!!!!!
So today was the day of my ALT JET Program interview at the Melbourne consulate and honestly things couldn’t have gone better, no surprises Melbourne’s weather lived up to its notoriety with it being 35 degrees but also storming in the afternoon with insanely heavy flash rain!

So I’ll talk about what I did to prepare for the interview a little later on, but I’ll first recap what i did to get into the right state of mind in the morning, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time relaxing before my interview rather than cramming since iv been working at it for weeks and to be fair if I didn’t know what I wanted to say on the morning of the interview revising wouldn’t help!

– I woke up really early as I couldn’t sleep due to nerves

– Had a high fibre breakfast

– Played with my pug Fuji for a while.

– Swam 50 laps in my pool.

– Had a shave and shower.


– Verbally went through all 30 or so questions I had thought up extended answers to in a mock interview pretending my interview panel was this kitsune mask on my wall.

I was lucky enough that my brother offered to take me to my interview, usually I wouldn’t ask but it was 35 degrees and the last thing i wanted to do was sit an hour on a bus/train/tram in the heat on the way to the consulate. I arrived super early (like 2 hours) as I wanted to be 100% sure that even in the worst case scenario I wouldn’t be late however no such thing occurred so I waited until around 45min before to actually enter the consulate as not to appear too keen.

The waiting room was nothing like what I was expecting based on things I had read in forum posts and blogs, no JET aluminum to talk to, no cheesy JET program video. I guess there a US/UK thing……..

Basically just a desk in the consulates library with a jug of water on the table, there were no bonuses for arriving early unless the lady at the desk was noting my check in time.

They were doing 3 interviews at a time in separate rooms with half an hour for each. Also I didn’t notice any body walking out of the interview shaking or anything, everyone had a smile on their face which was very reassuring and it was very comforting to see everyone had had similar experiences preparing for the interview.
There was one Japanese looking girl sitting in the waiting room when I arrived, I tried my best to chat to her, but she was very quiet and answered all my questions with short one word answers.
As the awkwardness grew progressively thicker my imagination began to run wild as I got this sneaking suspicion that she was some sort of spy from the consulate to see if we would make small talk when put in a room with a stranger. Eventually I realized I was perhaps just on the paranoid side of things XD
As her interview was half an hour before mine she was soon off and replaced by the other 2 applicants who were to be interviewed alongside me, luckily these guys were a lot more chatty and we got along just fine discussing the painful ordeal that is ‘JET Program Interview Hell’, even shouted to each other がんばれ as we headed in.
Keeping consistent with everything iv read about the Australian interview process it seems like we really do get it easy, par usual there was a former JET participant,a consulate employee and a native Japanese speaker who was incredibly friendly but whose job now escapes me.
There was no 3 meter void between myself and the panel, I was simply seated on the other side of a regular desk and they didn’t play was good cop, bad cop with me either and they all seemed to be genuinely interested in me and what I had to say.
I’m thinking I might just utilize a couple of these fantastic web-comics from this series called ‘Life After the B.O.E.’ in future posts,
which are all about life on the JET Program(me).
They are done by a former JET CIR named David Namisato.
If your interested check them all out here:
Honestly the entire interview was an absolute blur but here’s the questions that I remember:
– Tell us a little about yourself, why do you want to do the JET Program?
– How will JET fit into your career goals?
– What would you include if you were to present Australian at a local cultural fair?
– Would you be happy to sing karaoke in front of your co-workers at an enkai?
 (I said i love singing even though i am terrible at it, then i asked them if they would like me to sing, the consulate employee said ‘sure please sing a song you would sing to primary school children’, I had been practising ‘heads and shoulders, knees and toes’ for weeks ^_^ However I also came with backup plans, if they had asked me to sing a song that would be appropriate for highschool I had prepared to sing ‘Hot n’ Cold by Katy Perry as it would be good to teach opposites, and I had ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ memorized like a boss in case a cultural song was asked of me)
– What do you know about current social issues in Japan?
– So I see you picked Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture do you have some attachment to these places?
– What if you are put in an inaka placement, how will you cope?
– Tell us some of your strengths? What is your greatest weakness?
– What would you do if the JTE made an obvious English error during a class?
– A couple questions in nihon-go about myself.
– Do you have any questions for us?
At the end of the interview they asked me to re-fill out my medical forms as apparently the second page of it had mysteriously gone missing, I totally impressed them by saying well I can actually do one better, I brought along a copy of my application so here it is a copy of the original =P
Then they we had a chat about me being allergic to oysters and how I will need a doctors certificate to bring an eppipen into Japan, then i jokingly asked to please not be put in a town where oysters are the regional speciality (which is Hokkaido) as I might die of anaphylaxis!
Now I’ll tell you a little about how I prepared for the interview…….
As I mentioned in my previous post ever since i got back from holidays over new years I have been spending a couple of hours a day revising pretty much every single conceivable potential question I could think up and find on the internet.
I had so many amazing answers to questions that I worked on and practised over and over for hours, unfortunately I didnt get asked most of them as there’s only so much time in that room but here are a couple extra that you might want to prepare for that I didn’t get asked but others did:
– Why do you want to teach in Japan and not Korea or China?
– What 3 Items would you bring to represent Australia?
– What would you do if a child was misbehaving in class?
– How would you deal with inappropriate questions from a student?
– What do you know about the Japanese school system?
– What things do you know about Japan?
– What would you say if a student asked you about whaling?
Now I am very fortunate in that I have a job where quite often I find myself with very very little to do but sit around and look pretty for much of the day, so I have been dedicating this immense amount of downtime to studying up profusely,after almost 2 months of this I ended up filling up 2 whole work books with potential questions and answers.
Do you really need to work as hard as I did?? Probably not…… a lot of people probably get in who didn’t but at the end of day if you really want to be a JET participant isn’t it worth the effort?
The absolute best resource you can utilize is jumping on the JET Forums, now there’s the official one however I very much preferred I Think I’m Lost (ITIL)
I have used it daily since I started my SoP last year and users are more than happy to help with every step of the JET application process.
Just a note though that forum has a 1337ist vibe and theres a couple moderators that seem to take pleasure in ripping on weeaboo’s.
Also if your reading this looking for interview tips, although I have tried mybest don’t discount  google(ing) every conceivable mash up of JET Interview kinda search terms you can think of ‘eg. Melbourne JET Program Interview 2012’, you will be amazed at the amount of helpful blogs(like this one ^_^) you will stumble upon.
and now its finally time to get insanely drunk, get on with life and forget all those interview questions I have been cramming my brain full of for the past few months wewwwww

JET Program 2012 Pay Scale and Tax Changes

So finally today there was some clarification from CLAIR about the changes to the remuneration for JET Programme participants in 2012.
These changes have been the subject of fierce debate and speculation on the JET Program and ITIL forums over the past few months since the sliding pay scale and pre-tax remuneration was announced around a month ago when the applications were released.

Here is the news on the official JET Program website……. sadly it’s not the good kind of news

Basically in short the JET Program pipe dream is over with new participants receiving a hefty pay cut as of next year…… which would include me v_v

Up until now, the yearly remuneration for JET Programme participants has been set at approximately 3.6 million yen post-tax.

As of 2012 the new sliding scale will pay will be as follows
3.36m million yen for the first appointment,
3.6m yen for the second appointment,
3.9m yen for the third appointment and
3.96m yen for those appointed for a fourth and fifth year.

See this would be fine and all since it costs contracting organizations a huge amount of money to get new JET’s so its in their best interest to encourage participants to re-contract and this system I believe would work.
My issue is that this pay scale rather than being AFTER TAX like it used to be is now going to be BEFORE TAX!!
Now the tax system in Japan is a tad complicated since it comprises of Income Tax (10%), Local inhabitants tax  (varies by prefecture but around 10%) and JET participants are required to pay a compulsory pension & national insurance which is about  40,000 yen a month.
What will the final post tax pay, well that’s still up in the air and I’m sure will differ from person to person

What really annoys me is that due to a tax treaty American ALTs will be exempt from Japanese tax where as first year, non-U.S.-ALT JETs will need to pay tax out of their 3.36million per year

and the reasons for these changes……
What is the reason for the change in remuneration? (Quoted from
-To provide incentive for participants who
are appointed for more than one term.
-To reduce the financial burden for contracting
organisations and to reduce the complicated
administrative procedures when calculating
a post-tax remuneration.

Basically the JET Program is trolling us

Maybe they could try saving a little money by cutting some of the extravagant all expenses paid conferences that are held every year instead if things are that tight, at the end of the day where this pay cut is a drop of water to a government organization it is very substantial to the average JET applicant. 
I  think this initial pay cut may be due to the lack in government funding due to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. However I am just happy they decided not to put the JET Program on the chopping block which has been rumoured for years. But hey I’m sure this year will be much easier to get into as a result, surely the pay cut will be to deter at least a couple applicants.

Personally, as long as I have a couple 100$ extra to send home every month to service my mortgage I’ll be content, I’m not in JET for the money, I’m applying because it seems like an organic step in my life to achieve my aspirations. JET for me is the stepping stone I have dreamed of for half a decade, so am I disheartened by this news? Not in the least, I’ll be in Japan soon enough! がんばって!

Anyway I’m off, since it was Halloween yesterday here’s a cosplaying Nyanpug!!!