"Interview" and "Interview" Are Two Different Words in Japanese?

Published on
October 4, 2017
Contributors
Niko

This is an article on "Katakana English," instances where Japanese versions of English words have different *nuances.

*This is slightly different from 和製英語 (wasei eigo // made-in-Japan English), where the meanings of the words are completely different or the words don't actually exist in English.

In English, we can say, "I had an interview for a job." Or we can say "The reporter has conducted interviews with a number of celebrities."

In both cases, we can use the English word "interview." In Japanese, however, we would use two different words: 面接 (mensetsu) and インタビュー (intabyuu).

面接 is for "application interviews"

面接 (mensetsu) is the first word that I learned for "interview," way back when I had all my intro to Japanese grammar books and nerdy dreams of Japanese fluency.

I spent years in Japan thinking that 面接 (mensetsu) was the universal word for "interview" in Japanese, all because none of my dozens of books, teachers, friends, etc. took five seconds to tell me that this word is a bit different than the English word "interview."

面接 (mensetsu) is the word used when talking about an interview for some sort of application, usually a job or school "interview."

For you word nerds, you might be interested in looking at the kanji. 面 means "face" or "mask" and 接 means "touch" or "touching". To interview someone is, you could say, "to touch their face/mask."

Example City:

1.
明日バイトの面接なんだ。
ashita baito no mensetsu nan da.
I have a job interview tomorrow.

If we translated this sentence directly using our beloved Japanese-English dictionaries, we might get something like "tomorrow / part-time job's / interview / is."

Note that バイト (baito), short for アルバイト (arubaito), will usually get translated to "part-time job." But a バイト is not necessarily "part-time." In other words, it could very well be a 40-hour per week job. The main difference is that it is a job "without benefits." A job without a salary, insurance, and so on.

2.
筆記試験のあとは面接があります。
hikkishiken no ato wa mensetsu ga arimasu.
There is an interview after the written exam.

You can also say 面接がある (mensetsu ga aru), "to have an interview," like in this example.

3.
面接受けるの緊張する。
mensetsu ukeru no kinchou suru.
I'm nervous for my interview.

This example uses the verb 受ける (ukeru), which I could (and probably should) write an extremely long article about. Basically it means "to get; to receive; to undertake; to be given." If you 受ける (ukeru) a 面接 (mensetsu), then you're going to "get interviewed."

Note also that we're dropping particles like crazy in this sentence. If you saw this in a Japanese textbook, it would probably say something like this:

面接を受けるのが緊張する。
mensetsu wo ukeru no ga kinchou suru.
I'm nervous for my interview.

We're dropping を (wo) and が (ga), partly because it's just easier to drop particles in a casual conversation. Us students spend all of these years studying them, and then Japanese people just drop them out of their sentences. Life is cruel like that.

インタビュー is for "public interviews"

They also have a katakana version of the word "interview" in Japanese: インタビュー (intabyuu).

I used to think that this word was just used when Japanese people wanted to use katakana English (which they do, at times, use pretty randomly).

Alas, no...

The word インタビュー (intabyuu) is used for public interviews.

For example, "interviewing" a famous author, actor, or politician on TV would NOT be a 面接 (mensetsu). Rather, it would be an インタビュー (intabyuu).

Examples or it didn't happen:

1.
ノーベル賞受賞者のインタビュー観た?
nooberushou jushousha no intabyuu mita?
Did you see the interview with that Nobel Prize winner?

Again, we're dropping particles here. Specifically, we don't have an を (wo) before our verb 観た (mita), "watched; saw."

2.
街角インタビューされちゃった!
machikado intabyuu sarechatta!
I was approached on the street for an interview!

Watch a Japanese "variety show" for forty seconds, and you'll probably see some random person on the street getting interviewed about something. I was interviewed like this once, because I was sitting around like a vagrant hoodlum at 3 a.m. in Shibuya.

3.
明日地元のサッカーチームにインタビューすることになってるから、質問たくさん用意しなきゃ。
ashita jimoto no sakkaachiimu ni intabyuu suru koto ni natteru kara, shitsumon takusan youi shinakya.
I'm interviewing a local soccer team tomorrow, so I need to prepare a bunch of questions.

4.
最新作の映画についてブラピに独占インタビュー!
saishinsaku no eiga ni tsuite burapi ni dokusen intabyuu!
We have an exclusive interview with Brad Pitt about his latest movie!

I love how this affectionate Japanese term for Brad Pitt: ブラピ (Burapi).

The elusive nuances of Japanese

...are taught again and again over at NativShark. Just saying.

This is an article on "Katakana English," instances where Japanese versions of English words have different *nuances.

*This is slightly different from 和製英語 (wasei eigo // made-in-Japan English), where the meanings of the words are completely different or the words don't actually exist in English.

In English, we can say, "I had an interview for a job." Or we can say "The reporter has conducted interviews with a number of celebrities."

In both cases, we can use the English word "interview." In Japanese, however, we would use two different words: 面接 (mensetsu) and インタビュー (intabyuu).

面接 is for "application interviews"

面接 (mensetsu) is the first word that I learned for "interview," way back when I had all my intro to Japanese grammar books and nerdy dreams of Japanese fluency.

I spent years in Japan thinking that 面接 (mensetsu) was the universal word for "interview" in Japanese, all because none of my dozens of books, teachers, friends, etc. took five seconds to tell me that this word is a bit different than the English word "interview."

面接 (mensetsu) is the word used when talking about an interview for some sort of application, usually a job or school "interview."

For you word nerds, you might be interested in looking at the kanji. 面 means "face" or "mask" and 接 means "touch" or "touching". To interview someone is, you could say, "to touch their face/mask."

Example City:

1.
明日バイトの面接なんだ。
ashita baito no mensetsu nan da.
I have a job interview tomorrow.

If we translated this sentence directly using our beloved Japanese-English dictionaries, we might get something like "tomorrow / part-time job's / interview / is."

Note that バイト (baito), short for アルバイト (arubaito), will usually get translated to "part-time job." But a バイト is not necessarily "part-time." In other words, it could very well be a 40-hour per week job. The main difference is that it is a job "without benefits." A job without a salary, insurance, and so on.

2.
筆記試験のあとは面接があります。
hikkishiken no ato wa mensetsu ga arimasu.
There is an interview after the written exam.

You can also say 面接がある (mensetsu ga aru), "to have an interview," like in this example.

3.
面接受けるの緊張する。
mensetsu ukeru no kinchou suru.
I'm nervous for my interview.

This example uses the verb 受ける (ukeru), which I could (and probably should) write an extremely long article about. Basically it means "to get; to receive; to undertake; to be given." If you 受ける (ukeru) a 面接 (mensetsu), then you're going to "get interviewed."

Note also that we're dropping particles like crazy in this sentence. If you saw this in a Japanese textbook, it would probably say something like this:

面接を受けるのが緊張する。
mensetsu wo ukeru no ga kinchou suru.
I'm nervous for my interview.

We're dropping を (wo) and が (ga), partly because it's just easier to drop particles in a casual conversation. Us students spend all of these years studying them, and then Japanese people just drop them out of their sentences. Life is cruel like that.

インタビュー is for "public interviews"

They also have a katakana version of the word "interview" in Japanese: インタビュー (intabyuu).

I used to think that this word was just used when Japanese people wanted to use katakana English (which they do, at times, use pretty randomly).

Alas, no...

The word インタビュー (intabyuu) is used for public interviews.

For example, "interviewing" a famous author, actor, or politician on TV would NOT be a 面接 (mensetsu). Rather, it would be an インタビュー (intabyuu).

Examples or it didn't happen:

1.
ノーベル賞受賞者のインタビュー観た?
nooberushou jushousha no intabyuu mita?
Did you see the interview with that Nobel Prize winner?

Again, we're dropping particles here. Specifically, we don't have an を (wo) before our verb 観た (mita), "watched; saw."

2.
街角インタビューされちゃった!
machikado intabyuu sarechatta!
I was approached on the street for an interview!

Watch a Japanese "variety show" for forty seconds, and you'll probably see some random person on the street getting interviewed about something. I was interviewed like this once, because I was sitting around like a vagrant hoodlum at 3 a.m. in Shibuya.

3.
明日地元のサッカーチームにインタビューすることになってるから、質問たくさん用意しなきゃ。
ashita jimoto no sakkaachiimu ni intabyuu suru koto ni natteru kara, shitsumon takusan youi shinakya.
I'm interviewing a local soccer team tomorrow, so I need to prepare a bunch of questions.

4.
最新作の映画についてブラピに独占インタビュー!
saishinsaku no eiga ni tsuite burapi ni dokusen intabyuu!
We have an exclusive interview with Brad Pitt about his latest movie!

I love how this affectionate Japanese term for Brad Pitt: ブラピ (Burapi).

The elusive nuances of Japanese

...are taught again and again over at NativShark. Just saying.

Contributors
Niko
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