How should I dress?
I place this at the top for a reason; Japanese business standards are almost always very strict when it comes to professional dress. White and black are the standards. Full black or charcoal suit with white shirt for men, the equivalent for women. More important than knowing what you’re doing is looking the part.
What can I expect for the information session?
Not much. Your usual witty banter with fellow candidates, a brief history of AEON, a video covering a day in the life of an AEON teacher (probably still showing the same one), some Q&A, and a preview of what is to come should you be chosen for private interviews, and eventual employment.
What can I expect during the group interview?
90% of it is you just keeping your mouth shut and acting like a typical ESL student. When it comes time for your turn to present your prepared 5-minute demo lesson (for which you should have written a 15-minute lesson plan), just relax, and focus more on your presentation than the material; the recruiters will be more interested in teaching mannerisms and classroom English – how simply you speak; do you use complicated words – rather than your explanation of the future perfect tense.
After the group interviews finish up, there will be a brief recess while all the recruiters decide whom to cut and whom to schedule for private interviews. Stick around, and everyone will be given an envelope sealed with your fate: an interview time, or a note stating "sorry, try again."
What can I expect during the private interview?
If you are selected for a private interview, it may be scheduled later that evening, or sometime in the next two days. If you have traveled far for the AEON interview and have already made plans to leave, let the recruiters know and they will try to work around that.
What happens next?
Not much, at least for a few weeks. If you’re lucky you’ll get a phone call offering you a position; they will have the location and start time. If these are impossible, you may defer employment for some months, but I encourage you to get into the country as soon as you can. Should you accept, the recruiter will add you to the AEON mailing list and forward you cultural tips, paperwork, and any problems that might occur.
The first step in your paperwork will be to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the Japanese government. AEON will do this on your behalf, provided you forward them everything they need. After that, you need to send the COE with your passport and the appropriate forms to the nearest Japanese consulate or embassy for the working visa. You will be entering Japan with a 1-year "Specialist in Humanities/International Services" visa.
Once you have your passport with the visa sticker, it’s simply a matter of purchasing a flight, packing your bags, and saying goodbye to turkey sandwiches.
What can I expect during training in Japan?
This varies significantly by location. I believe they hold training classes in Sapporo, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Omiya, and Okayama. AEON asks that you schedule a flight landing within a given window of time (a few hours, so as to not keep the representative waiting; chances are you’ll see another teacher on the same flight). You’ll land, forward one or two bags to the school branch where you will be spending the year, then catch the train to the training center, as the representative has purchased the tickets in advance and will be "holding your hand" most of the way.
Housing at training, in Okayama at least, is dorm-style, two to a room. You may be the only person in your training class, which would suck, but will leave you a little freedom when it comes to settling in at night. Many people have asked me about free time during training. Let me stress: working at AEON is not summer camp. You do not have to ask your trainer’s permission to leave the dorm or go anywhere (provided you’re at training when they request you to be). This is a job, and you are an adult. Don’t forget it.
Training itself also varies. If you’re teaching at an A school (adults only), it will last one week. B school – kids and adults – about ten days. Generally they’ll have you start around 10, 11 AM and finish up around 6, 7 PM, with an hour for lunch. There aren’t any "official" outings during training, but I encourage you to go out with your trainer and fellow trainees on the town. Go to dinner. Sing karaoke. Check out the nightlife. See the local castle. It’s alright if you’re too jet-lagged and need some time to chill in the dorm, but don’t be anti-social. During my ten days of training I believe we went out to karaoke three times, dinner almost every night, and played poker over pizza at my trainer’s apartment one time.
And after that?
Say your goodbye to your fellow Japan newbies, take the train to the station closest to your school, and prepare for your welcome dinner, greeting a few students, and settling into your apartment. Congratulations.
Any other questions?