Corporate Japan is looking to conduct job interviews online in a move that could benefit both companies and job seekers.

For job-hunting college students in rural areas, going to interviews in Tokyo, where the major companies are concentrated, is not easy: the transportation and accommodation costs, as well as long travel times can impose huge burdens.

For companies soliciting the best graduates, it will be possible to draw on more diversified and competent personnel resources from across the country and even from abroad.

According to an association promoting online job interviews, more than half of the students cited “financial burden” as their main concern, with some of them having to spend over ¥100,000 on traveling for job hunting.

But doing it online could reduce the burden drastically, while also giving more opportunities for companies to attract top graduates no matter where they live.

In late June, human resources representatives from Sony Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Japan Tobacco Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. participated in a panel discussion held by the association on the feasibility of online interviews and possible hurdles.

Some of the four Japanese firms have already introduced online interviews for job seekers who live abroad, but none for new graduates in Japan. Still, they are considering introducing the system for domestic recruitment, as it would also lead to a reduction in costs for the companies.

“If online (recruitment) becomes popular, we can launch interviews not only with students in the countryside but also those who are studying abroad,” said Koji Yamamoto, a senior official at Fujitsu’s human resources department.

At the same time, Yamamoto expressed concern about the protection of personal information.

Industry observers say that a framework that can prevent leakage of personal data is necessary for companies to promote online interviews.

The association, a nonprofit organization launched in April in Tokyo, has developed a system especially for recruitment interviews that can replace the existing videophone and provide more security, in which employers and job seekers can access each other at a virtual interview room using one-time IDs.

The new system also allows employers to record interviews, according to the association.

“We want to carefully evaluate what Japanese students think of online interviews and the recording system,” said Masashi Hokibara, a senior official at Nissan’s human resources department, citing possible use of recordings to analyze assessments of potential recruits as well as their performance after joining the company.

Among Japanese firms, e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. has already launched online interviews. Meanwhile, some companies outside Tokyo are also eager to recruit graduates in the metropolitan area through online interviews.

Sanko Seika Co., a rice biscuit manufacturer in Niigata Prefecture, introduced online interviews in recruiting new graduates in 2014, and has conducted such interviews with hundreds of people.

Noting that online interviewing has contributed to saving time and costs both for students and the company, a company official said, “We wanted to remove the disadvantages in recruiting candidates outside big cities in competition with big firms.”

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