Category: Hiring Best Practices

How to find top talent

Finding Top Talent & New Hires In Unexpected Places

So maybe you’re considering opening a branch in Japan and you are not sure where to find your first employee on the ground…

Or maybe you are the TA or HR based in APAC trying to figure out why it is so difficult to hire in Japan…

Whatever your position is, we hope these tips will help you connect with and find the best people, as well as provide insight into how WE do.

Some of the key tools that recruiters rely on can be used by you as well.
Tools like: Industry events, job sights such as #LinkedIn, and referrals.

Referrals – ie. your own network & team’s connections, are an incredibly underused resource. As business owners or leaders of HR we sometimes assume that information is being disseminated throughout the company. However, in reality, sometimes it takes a much more direct approach of asking people “Hey we are looking for X role, but do you have any ideas?”

We also want to share 3 of other surprising places for finding great hires.

1. Online communities – if your in the market for software engineers for example, GitHub is a great place to find pros with examples of the work as well.
2. Online events – host your own, join others, or even come and join ours!
3. Your clients/customers – this is always a little sensitive and we don’t encourage poaching, but sometimes there are mutual beneficial talent changes that leave both companies in a deeper partnership AND fulfilling their talent needs/changes – we have even seen this successfully happen recently where both CEO’s came to an understanding and the candidate came out with a step up into an area they were more passionate about.

Now, just knowing where people are, doesn’t make it any easier to create a strong hiring brand, put together attractive job descriptions, or create a corporate story focused on specifically appealing to top talent.

There is a huge time investment and degree of trial an error when “dialing in” to the Japanese talent market.

That is where we come in.

Want to save, time, money, and headache?

Reach out to us and let’s have a talk.

3 Trends that will shape the 2022 talent market

3 Trends That Will Shape 2022 Talent Market

2021 and COVID taught us a lot of things about being flexible and learning to give autonomy and trust to employees.

It forced us, as managers, HR leaders, and Company leaders, to be more empathic and caring about wellbeing at work – as well as digital transformation.

Here are 3 trends that will largely impact hiring in 2022

1. Hybrid Work : This is now a generally accepted business practice with companies around the globe redefining “where” & “how” people work. With COVID policies still evolving and changing, and many famous IT companies leading the way declaring remote work permanently, not offering a flexible working style is a clear demerit to candidates in the market. 2022 will continue to introduce virtual tools for onboarding, training, meetings, and working together.

2. Employee Engagement : With hiring top talent becoming more and more competitive candidates have begun to look at secondary and tertiary benefits to a joining a company. How well does management listen and fix employees problems. Are teams multifunctional and designed to handle problems flexibly. Are roles autonomous, free of micro management, fulfilling, and play a meaningful role in the growth of the company.

3. SDGs : This applies perhaps even more so to renewable and green tech companies. When your product is meant to promote sustainability – be prepared for candidates to also assess your internal corporate environment of sustainability (not just in the tradition sense, but in relation to your staff as well)

These are not things that are easily changed, but high salaries are less and less convincing if we don’t begin to improve our attractiveness as an employer as well.

How to assess problem solving ability

Assessing problem solving skills

How to assess problem solving ability

A candidate’s problem-solving abilities can be assessed in simply in three ways:

1. by asking for examples of times when they previously solved a problem.

2. by presenting them with a situations and asking how they would respond to it.

3. by seeing how they apply their problem-solving skills in a case study or exercise.

What you want to be looking for is:
-How they approach complex issues
-How they find the root problem and analyze data
-How they handle unforeseen stressful scenarios
-How they react when their ideas are challenged

A few examples of this could be to ask:

1. Tell me about a time you had to solve a problem without support. How did you do it and what was the result?

2. Share an example of a time you identified and fixed a problem before it became a significant issue.

3. Tell me about a time you predicted a problem and how did you prevent it from escalating?

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How to highlight your soft skills during an interview

Often people get caught up in focusing on appealing to their experience, technical skills, and success stories in order to make a good impression and secure their career steps.

While checking off all the boxes on those is extremely important – how do employers choose between multiple equally skilled candidates? Naturally, they will take into account a variety of factors including compensation, culture fit as well as their “sixth sense” or a “gut feeling”.

However, often what they call a “gut feeling” is their way of expressing how they interpreted your soft skills.

So let’s first take a step back and go over what exactly “soft skills” are:

Perseverance & Dedication
Problem Solving
Adaptability, Creativity & Problem Solving
Time Management
Communication and Persuasion
Enthusiasm & Passion
Now, what you need to remember is most hiring managers are not going directly to ask you “tell me about your perseverance”… Rather, it is going to be up to you to show them your soft skills in the way you answer their questions.

So, the method to do this is simple yet quite difficult to do.

What – What – How – Result method.

Clearly introduce the problem/challenge that you faced (What)
Share what you did in that situation (What)
Add more information on the steps you took to deliver (How)
Round this answer off with the result of your actions (Result)
As an example:

Question: Tell me about a situation where you had to deal with a difficult client?

Answer: We had a long standing client who wanted to renegotiate our prices lower (What). I met with the client with the intent to keep favourable terms and improve our relationship (What). In this case, I took a consultative approach to ask why they wanted to lower prices, and to understand if they were not satisfied with our service. Through this, could identify that our client would actually be better served by one of our new service lines which addressed his concerns (How). As a result, he signed a new contract with us, for an upgraded premium service (Result).

What soft skills can we see in this answer?

– Perseverance, Problem Solving, Adaptability, Communication and Persuasion

Bottom line: When you are explaining your role, results, situations you figured out, you must talk about “how” you did it, not only the results. The age old idiom “results are everything” is not enough when you have tough competition.

When you have 2 candidates both with the same results, then the deciding factor comes down to the “how”.

It is in this “how” that you show your dedication, your problem solving skills, your adaptability and teamwork, your tenacity.

Over years of recruitment, we have even seen employers choose candidates with lesser results because their soft skills – their reasoning and actions, were much higher. It just hadn’t connected to the results.

So, the takeaway?

Don’t rely on your CV and hard skills to land you the job, and even if you may be lacking in some of the hard skills, don’t give up on applying, as you may be more qualified than you even realize.

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Hire Better & Faster With These 5 Tips

The ideal interview process – speed and engagement

Titan GreenTech’s Andrew Statter has worked with over 100 clients in various industries in Japan. He’s compiled a few of the best practices he’s seen to ensure quality candidate screening, high level of engagement and maximum offer to close ratio.

Hiring manager interviews first

Who’s business is most affected by this hire? Who will be the biggest influencer in the candidate’s decision? Not HR, not the global counterpart, but the person they will see and interact with most once they join the company; the hiring manager. Putting the prospective candidate and the hiring manager together at the very first step increases engagement, and accelerates the hiring process – resulting in higher closing rates. Yes, the hiring manager’s time is valuable – this is why you should be very selective about your agency partners and work exclusively with an agent you can trust to screen and only provide high quality candidates.

Two-way conversation

Overwhelmingly, the temperature of the post interview feedback I receive when the interview was held as a two-way business discussion between professionals is positive. The question, question, question, pressure cooker interview is so old school and needs to be buried along with fax machines and hankos. A savvy interviewer will build a structured conversation, with key topics and questions built in that will answer the key points without the candidate feeling they are in an airport customs interrogation room. 

First interview: Tell me about your experience at XX.Co

Second interview: Tell me about your experience at XX.Co

Third interview: Tell me about your experience at XX.Co

Candidate = bored. Your insight = limited.

Clear roles of each interviewer

DESIGN your interview process. Hiring manager takes point and goes through background in detail, HR nails down the cultural fit and growth path, VP/MD looks big picture at leadership potential, technical stakeholder comes in to dig deep on the hard skill requirements. The angle and line of questioning each time should be different. This will increase candidate engagement, but more importantly, it allows your team to have a wider, deeper view of the candidate’s potential to do the job, and to grow within the organization over a longer term.


2021 is the worst supply vs demand economics I have ever seen for hiring companies. This is very much a candidate driven market (it always is, but now more than ever). From our data, +40% of drop-outs from interview process are not due to culture mismatch, bad interviews – but simply because the process is too slow! Quick tips for speeding up the process: Hiring manager first, HR+senior interview together, pencil in interviews before prior interview feedback, address any critical admin (references, tests) early.

Show the love in the FIRST offer!

The biggest mistake I see: Lowball offers. Somebody decides that they can probably get the candidate for a little less money and thinks ‘this gives us room to negotiate later’. The truth is: the FIRST offer you give the candidate says ‘this is how much we value you’. Even if you increase later, the damage is done – and to regain the feeling of being valued from the candidate, you often have to pay well above what you SHOULD have offered first. 

We train candidates to say to you ‘I’ll consider your best offer’.

You need to come to the table with your best offer – or that candidate will be at your competitor, working against you, when you could have had them working for you.

Titan’s service goes beyond simply introducing candidates. We love to partner with purpose driven companies and help them attract the best talent in the market. To do this, we help design your interview process, build your employer brand and candidate outreach strategy. For the next level in recruitment partnership, get in touch with us at Titan.

5 Qualities We Look For, That You Should Too

Let’s breaks down some of the critical points he looks for in candidates for the team. 

Recruitment is sales – naturally we look for people with traits that help them influence, listen, persuade, negotiate. 

Every job is sales. Engineers need to persuade people their ideas are viable, accountants need to influence the tax authorities, parents need to persuade their kids to eat their vegetables! For any position these traits are important – take a look below to see what we value at Titan.


First and foremost. Honesty is 100% non-negotiable for us. Being true to clients, candidates, colleagues and most importantly, to ourselves is critical. Ours is a people business, and we work in a tight-knit, collaborative team environment – the value of trust that comes with honesty cannot be underestimated. Asking candidates about prior mistakes and even life regrets is a good way to get a sense of someone’s honesty and self-reflective abilities.


Recruitment is tough. Especially in the early days, when you have no reputation, nobody knows you. Rejection rates can be high, deals blow up, learning curve is super steep. Over years of recruitment, I’ve seen some people without perfect ‘sales skills’ become highly successful from their ability to push through adversity time and again. Personally, I like to see people who have a background in competitive sports, or those who have taken a risk, such as moving alone to a new country as a measure of grit.


Of course a recruiter needs to be likable. We need to nail the first impression, and build upon this through our interactions with our clients and candidates. Internally as well, we need to be working together smoothly and have others want to help us. A lot goes into likability, from your handshake, smile (eyes too, not just mouth), how you listen, empathy, humour. Typically in our interview process, we take candidates out in a social setting and meet over lunch or a drink to see how they handle themselves – it can be amazing the insights you get after a couple of glasses of Merlot…


Those who learn are naturally curious. A lack of curiosity generally comes with a ‘know it all’ attitude. Especially important if you are looking to hire someone who has some life experience and has been quite successful in the past. Has their past experience overblown their confidence, or are they really ready to become the beginner again? I love hearing candidates tell me stories of picking up new hobbies – whether this be playing a musical instrument, learning a language, studying a martial art – lifelong learning and a ‘beginner attitude’ is massive.


Not to be confused with ‘cocky’. As a sales professional, I strongly disagree with ‘fake it till you make it’ and much prefer ‘practice until you master’. Confidence does not mean you can make assumptions and ‘wing it’ in meetings or negotiations. Real confidence comes because you have practiced your craft, done your research, taken the time to prepare for game day. Real confidence is born from an attitude of humility – maybe this comes from over 10 years of living in Asia, however I value the quiet confidence over the outspoken confidence every day of the week. 

What do you look for in candidates for your team? 

How good is your interview process at identifying the right traits in prospective talent? 

Are you able to look beyond great ‘hard skills’ to ensure a quality cultural fit? 

If you want to discuss these points, or would like to improve your interview process and increase new hire ‘stickability’ please do get in touch.

Contract Employees VS Permanent Employees – how to mitigate risk?

We see a lot of companies come to Japan and struggle with the concept of Permanent Employment as the “gold standard” of hiring – and from a pure hiring perspective coming from Europe or America it makes sense that companies would be averse to this.

Why? Because it is so difficult to fire a permanent employee. This is without a doubt the biggest challenge facing foreign companies in Japan when hiring. Not all employees adapt to the international business environment or perform as expected which can lead to a lot of money lost.

Unfortunately, while there were a lot of attractive reasons to use contract workers in the past, laws and regulations have changed over the past few years that may change your mind.

Perhaps most significantly, in the past, contract workers would not have required paid leave or being enrolled in health insurance, the laws concerning this have become significantly more strict. Now requiring enrollment in NHS and Pension if passing the 20hr mark.

Another key aspect to take into account is that most employees in Japan prefer, and will even push for permanent employment, going as far as to reject higher paying contractual offers.

If you take into account that the majority of major companies in Japan already are following this standard – most skilled professionals will have their pick of permanent options. So the time and costs required to hire a professional on a contract basis may well outweigh the costs of taking the time to build a solid interview process and screen strong permanent talent..

Not only that, but in Japan if an employee has been on a renewable contract for over a certain number of years, they must be switched to a permanent employee if requested. 

Considering these changes, there is less benefit to hiring contract employees in Japan now than in the past.  To help with risk mitigation when hiring, we find that a clearly designed interview process, with a diverse interview panel that represents each key part of the company results in better onboarding and retention. 

Titan GreenTech is able to support companies to assess and redesign interview processes specifically for Japan, or for specific key positions.