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How to Answer the 2 Most Common Interview Questions

Tune into our previous Live Video as Andrew Statter answers the most common question in first interviews and the most difficult question at the end of an interview process posted by our followers on LinkedIn 

  1. What are your strengths & weaknesses?
  2. What are your salary expectations?

Watch the video below for his suggestions!

Contact us for more information and support on how to take the next step in your career

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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.

5 key questions for your career plan

If you work 40 hours a week for 40 years – you will spend 80,000 hours of your life working. This is likely more time than you spend with your family, pursuing hobbies or even sleeping. What you do, who you work with etc. are critical for a life well lived.

When we look at changing our careers, we always consider things such as salary raise, personality match with the team, stability of the company etc. Let’s look at some deeper questions aimed toward longer term job satisfaction.

1) Is the job mentally engaging?

Do you have a wide variety of tasks, will you have autonomy to be creative, will you be pushed to try something new and solve problems new to you? Routine work, going through the same process over and again is a slippery slope to dissatisfaction. Look for something that challenges you, even scares you a little. After all, if you have 5 years experience in the same role – do you have 5 years experience, or 1 years experience 5 times over?

2) Is the company diverse?

Members coming from different generations, educational backgrounds, cultural and economic upbringings, industries will add fresh perspectives and foster a creative, collaborative environment. If everyone in the company joined as fresh grads, from a similar academic background, no wonder there is a ‘senpai-kohai’ culture – age becomes the sole differentiator.

3) How will your future value be in the market?

When we change companies, our intent usually is to stay there and develop our careers for years to come. The problem is that no company, big or small can guarantee this. Any new role you take on, you need to build new achievements, develop or upgrade your skills. Think ‘worst case’ scenario: if you try, and fail, what do you learn and what experience do you gain? Will that experience complement the tools you already have and therefore add to your value in the market?

4) What can you leverage vs how much can you grow?

Mid career, you are paid a certain salary and hold a position based on your skills and experience. Though jumping into something completely new can be exciting, if you cannot leverage your existing skills, network etc. then you cannot expect to maintain your income and status in the business. On the other hand, doing the same thing at another company, possibly for more cash is a fast-track to boredom. Ideally, look for something where you add value with your experience, but also gives you room to try something fresh.

5) Does the work have a bigger purpose?

This comes with age. As we gain life experience, we start to care more about the impact our work and our life has. Is our work meaningful? Will it make the world a better place for our children to grow up in? We can only use the money we earn while we live, however the legacy we leave lasts forever.

10 Tips To Crush A First Interview

Just imagine – you have been applying to companies, sending out your CV for the past couple of weeks, and you finally got an interview with a top company.

You figure you know your stuff, and they said it was just going to be a casual first touch meeting, so you check out their website quickly while riding the train over.

Everyone is friendly, you felt like you had good rapport, you’re confident that you passed and have the job in the bag… Only to get an email the next week that you failed.

Guess what, now you have to start all over again from scratch.

So instead of wasting your time, study up on these big 10 tips to make sure you get the most out of each opportunity.

Do your research 

You might be able to do the job, but do you know the company’s main products, what is their mission statement? Core values? Have you looked over their About Us page and Corporate History Page? Companies, just like people, want to feel special and understood. When you don’t do your research you are essentially saying “Hey I’m just not that into you”.

Being 3-5 minutes early is on time

This should be a no brainer, and yet every year a few people do this. You should always plan for 15 minutes of delay. If you arrive early, wait outside or in a nearby cafe. Of course, sometimes things happen outside our control, in which case ALWAYS contact your recruiter or the company to let them know as soon as possible.

Answer clearly & to the point

Take a moment before answering a question to organize your thoughts and answer. Then speak clearly and confidently. When you aren’t clear on what the interviewer is looking for it is always a good idea to clarify their question or confirm if what you’re explaining is what they were looking for. The worst thing you can do is go on for 5 minutes about something completely different then what they were asking about!

Dressing appropriately

I know most of you will laugh at this and think it is common sense, but inevitably every year, we see 1 or 2 people show up to an interview in flip flops or a t-shirt. So let us clarify for you here. It doesn’t matter whether you are an Engineer who will never see a customer or a Sales Manager. You should always dress to impress unless you have been specifically told to do otherwise. First impressions are easy to make and hard to change – make sure your appearance is helping you!

Ask questions

This is a big one that catches a lot of people. You go into the first interview, have had a good chat, and they ask you if you have any questions. Your thinking, well at THIS POINT IN TIME, no. You may still be deciding if you are even interested in the company or not. Unfortunately, by not asking any pertinent questions, that is exactly what you are telling the interviewer – “I am not that interested” which will result in you not getting the chance to find out if you would have been. We recommend preparing 3-5 questions about the business or role you can ask about.

Don’t speak negatively about your current / previous companies

At the risk of sounding a bit extreme… Nobody wants a team member who is in perpetual cloud of negativity.

Have a clear motivation for applying to the role & company

I see a lot of candidates get tripped up by this, time and time again. When talking about your motivation you need to connect it to what the company you are applying for does and stands for. Just “using your skills and experience” is not good enough. Why? Because you can do that at ANY relative company. Our clients come to us to find them professionals whose passion and drive is in alignment with their company’s goal. Even if you aren’t sure yet, if you don’t show that in the first interview, you will likely not receive the chance to find out later on.

Be a good balance between Professional and Friendly

This one can be a bit tricky as it requires you to read the interviewer and feel it out on a case by case basis. If you are too cold or standoffish you will come off as uninterested or a bad communicator. Get too personal or too casual and you don’t know how to conduct yourself professionally. There is no one answer here, just be aware of how you are talking and acting. Make sure you are being friendly, but professional.

Have good body language / posture

Common understanding is that we make our first impressions within 30 seconds of meeting someone, and almost entirely from non-verbal signals. Make sure you are standing up straight and projecting confidence. Look the person in the eyes & watch your tonality and speed when talking. Be calm but passionate. If this is hard for you, practice in the mirror or even ask your recruiter to practice with you.

Express your appreciate & interest at the end

You may be very interested in the role and company, but that doesn’t mean that the interviewer knows that. Make sure you let them know at the end of the interview or risk them thinking you are not keen on moving forward. A great way to finish off a good interview is at the end say “Thank you for your time, I am very interested in your company and this role, and I look forward to hearing back from you.”


If you are struggling on finding your next career step or getting through interview stages, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We can help with introducing exciting companies and roles, how to best prepare your CV, and support you through the hiring process and salary negotiation, all the way to how to talk to your current employer for resignation.

Top 3 Attractive Careers in Renewable Energy

There are so many industries out there to choose from, that it can be very difficult to choose an exciting, fascinating, and lucrative career to move forward with. It can even be overwhelming. The energy industry, like others, of course has its good points and its bad points – but one thing you can count on, is it being a profitable and promising career field.

Not only does the energy industry offer some quickly growing areas, but even in fields with declining growth such as nuclear, there are still high paying careers with real potential for a variety of reasons.

But WHAT is the right career path for you – Oil & Gas? Is it Solar or Wind? Or maybe is it going to be Geothermal that is the energy source of the future?

It can be difficult to figure out what is the best choice for YOU.

But let us help you – by sharing 3 exciting and lucrative career paths available in the renewable energy industry (in no specific order).

  1. Project Management – Renewable energies like wind and solar are seeing an increase from public opinion and government support, creating some of the best paying jobs in energy. And most Energy Developers need Project Managers for a wide range: Both delaying construction and bidding to finance and budgeting. Depending on your experience and background, salaries can range from 7,000,000 JPY upwards of 18,000,000 JPY. Project Management is also a great gateway to running a company!
  2. Sustainability Consulting – Companies like PwC, Accenture, and others often need consultants to advise on social investment fund formation and impact evaluation, consult on business modeling, design long-term corporate vision and strategies, as well as to consult on the creation and evaluation of renewable energy funds. This can be an exciting career in helping other companies determine their direction in Sustainability, with salaries ranging from 6,000,000 JPY entry level and up to 20,000,000 range!
  3. Energy Trading / PPS/PPA – with lots of funding being pumped into the renewable energy industry, companies are looking for well capitalized global players with diverse asset portfolios across utility-scale and C&I level assets who can help them with expanding their business areas and diversifying. Depending on your experience and level, salaries can range from 5,000,000 JPY for new graduates upwards of 15,000,000 JPY as you move into management roles.

We hope this helps give you some ideas about the industry and if you are interested in learning more about how your specific skills might be applicable or what kind of careers are available for you, then don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Contact us or email me directly at