*Warning sign #1*
We get to a building that is operating like an assembly line where 5 other people in suits are led out and then we are led in, told that the previous 5 were candidates and "they were all terrible";
*Warning sign #2*
We were told that if we passed the first interview, the 2nd would be at 1AM (serious) that night, and the company would pay us back our taxi fare. If that interview went well, there would be a 3rd Friday at 7PM, and if that went well, we would start Monday at 6AM sharp.
So we were led into a conference room where two staff and the man that led us in sat in one corner, and we three were in the other. The florescent lights were off in their corner of the room, but our corner was lit up. Terrible attempt at a police-style interrogation?
So then we were asked to tell them about ourselves including what we have done over the past 3 years. This part was pretty dry, actually, and then the insanity happened when they would ask us in turn various questions. Read on if you dare.
Them : Do you have a problem working 300+ hours a month, because your skill sheet says you have never worked that many hours. (yes, this was the first thing out of their mouths)
Me : Is there a shortage of manpower or the deadline is too tight? (they cut me off with a hand gesture)
Them : What about weekends? What if we needed you to work weekends until May?
Me : ...meaning 7 day weeks for the next few months?
Them : Yes.
Me : That might be difficult, since... (I was about to explain one of planning problems or labour laws, but never got that far since I was cut off again)
Them : Next question. Can you speak/read/write English?
Me : *blink* I'm a native speaker
Them : Do you have any certification to prove this?
Me : erm, my passport? I have my birth certificate at home...I have a degree from a University in Canada, too. (I should have said my skin colour too, but that would be too snarky)
Them : Ok, sounds good. We are dealing with an American company and we are having many communication issues. Hrm, how close are you to this office (they look at my profile sheet)
Me : I live one train/subway line away.
Them : This office is only a temporary office for this project right now and will move. We do not know where yet, but do you have a problem if we have to move (far away)? We have sleeping rooms in our main office you can use if it is too far to get back to your home.
Me : ... It would depend on how far away (I was cut off)
Them : Do you have a family? Are you married? (This question is not illegal in an interview in Japan)
Me : I am as a matter of fact
Them : Kids?
Me : Yes
Them : Oh... (chatter amongst themselves, I hear 'dame' (no good) and 'taihen' (tough/difficult/rough) several times)
Repeat with other candidates, though the one after me seemed overjoyed to be working 300+ hours a month
Them : Okay, so let me tell you where we stand. We committed to a project without properly defining the requirements, so our programming team of 100 is (blindly) writing and adding every possible feature and bug fix to the base system that they can to meet a launch deadline of March 1st. The original system is in English, and it is taking a very long time to get through all the documentation. Failure means we are all fired. Our only hope of finishing is to work as hard as possible through the evenings and weekends until everything is finished. The requirements will be decided as the program is being written.
(all three of us look on in utter horror/shock as in 'how the hell did I end up here?')
Other candidate : What are the core hours?
Them : (confused looks amongst themselves) Honestly, there is always someone here, we just keep going and only take breaks when it is time to eat or get a few hours sleep in the lobby.
Other candidate : (I know he shouldn't ask this at an interview, but he did anyways) Are we paid a lot in compensation?
Them : Oh yes, the base salary is 190,000 yen a month and we will cover transportation (looks at me) but no family allowances.
(all three of us stare blankly, praying for some great God to smite these people with lightning)
The interview ends and we are marched out the door
Other candidate : (on phone)... F*CK! The labour board office is closed for the day!
Me : I was going to call them too. Maybe tomorrow?
Other candidate : I think we can make more money suing them than working for them