Round 1: The Process
In my mind, this fight scenario is indicative of the fight between government-run and private run companies in Japan at present. I’m not much for politics in my own backyard, let alone a foreign nation but I can understand the importance of this battle. From what I gather, the recent political switch over that happened recently has sent Japan in a more private direction. Basically, the government will be made smaller, its many sub-company’s made private like the post offices and so on.
What does any of this have to do with JET and Interac? Everything. As I have viewed thus far, JET has been the reigning giant when it comes to the placement of ALT’s (Assistant Language Teachers). There are several factors that feed this such as being the best paid ALT job out there (for someone with no experience, new to the country, etc.) and loads of assistance from the company, both financial as well as psychological. It is, by far the most recommended, well funded, stable ALT placement company.
So why would anyone bother with Interac? Because if JET’s doors were any tighter to squeeze through, they’d be making diamonds from coal in there. The first and second times I applied to JET (2008 and 2009), the process began as early as late August/early September. I was informed of whether I was coming for an interview around December and then the actual interview was in the heart of NYC in mid February. THEN I waited another couple of months to find out I was put on the Alternate list (basically, if you’re on an alternate list, they want you but there just isn’t enough room on the short list for everyone). The application process alone is demanding. Attention to details, concise but informative answers, and getting that app in as early as possible is what’s going to get the win. The interview… I usually do well in those situations and I don’t think that I did poorly but I’m not a teacher. I have loads of experience working with children but not with pretend teaching with 3 stern interviewers. But they want the best of the best so I don’t blame them. Thankfully, for any new applicants they have now shortened the process by at least a month or so and I believe their eventual goal is to make it almost completely online based, like Interac. For now, expect to give them EVERYTHING up front in the application. There is no real back and forth. They evaluate everyone at one time and if you don’t measure up on paper first, they don’t even bother talking to you.
Like I explained in the previous post, Interac’s process was quick, to the point and fairly painless. Many of the questions and paper documents needed for visa and other things are not requested until the interview process is underway. And the interview doesn’t happen until you’re first screened over the phone by a recruiter after you’ve submitted the application online. I feel that these steps create a much less stressful experience. Much less time is wasted in this way. Something like this:
Applicant: “Hi, I’m interested in this position. Here is my resume and reference list.” 1 day to a couple of weeks pass
Recruiter: “Hi, you meet our basic requirements. I will now ask a series of questions to ensure you are competent…. Congratulations! You have passed the initial screening. Let’s setup an interview date.” Several days to several weeks pass
Applicant: “I have come to this professional interview, prepared to perform under pressure for a video interview (to be sent to Japanese clients), interact with fellow applicants in a group setting, and interview privately. I conduct myself formally, expressively, and with confidence.” 3-4 weeks pass
Recruiter: “Congratulations once again! Here is your letter of an offer of employment. This is your estimated start date (either early April or July).”
I actually enjoyed the interview itself because it’s a group process all except for the 30 minute private interview at the end. It took all day for me since I opted to go next to last… because I’m such a nice person. Nearly 10 hours, not including drive time which was a hike. Still worth it. I hope I’ll get to meet some of my cohorts again at the orientation. All good people. It was almost comical because we all agreed that every single one of us there was good choice. Everyone had different strengths and weaknesses and we seemed to compliment each other very well.
In summary of the processes, JET can take anywhere from 11 to 16 months to finally get placed where as Interac takes a minimum of 6 and a max of 10 months to place. For Round 1, my winner is undoubtedly Interac. Stay tuned next time for Round 2: Placement.
With love – M