I'm going to look for a new job soon and one of the reasons among others is the demand for overwork time that's very common in Japan.

Looking for a new job should I mention that I won't do overtime work or just do the interview normally and then refuse it if it comes up since it's not in the contract (I know I cannot be pressured of fired for this)?

  • 2
    This answer may be helpful: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/30640/…
    – Jane S
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 9:03
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    "I know I cannot be pressured of fired for this". Eh, what? You realise that even if this is true, which I strongly doubt, you'll want to develop a work ethic that's a bit better than "make sure they can't fire me". And to be honest, even if you find a way to word this without torpedoing your chances of getting hired for even voicing the requirement, what makes you think you'll find a job in Japan that's okay with that?
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 9:28
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  • @Lilienthal: The second question is different in that it asks about "unpaid overtime", while this is about overtime in general, and the first one is more general. They are closely related though.
    – sleske
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 10:03
  • So you're looking for a job where nothing ever goes wrong or needs priority attention. You may find that but understand that jobs that are so unimportant are usually also low paying.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 17:54

3 Answers 3


Looking for a new job should I mention that I won't do overtime work

While interviewing, you should ask questions to learn about the company culture and to determine if the job and company fit your needs.

If you have decided that you are not willing to work any overtime, then you must ask enough questions to learn if overtime will be expected, since that would mean you don't want this job.

Instead of simply stating "I won't do overtime", you might want to ask "Tell me about the work hours here." And if necessary, push a bit and say "How often are people expected to work overtime?"

From the company viewpoint, interviews are designed to see if you fit the job/role/company. Similarly, from your viewpoint, you need to see if what they are offering fits your needs.

or just do the interview normally and then refuse it if it comes up since it's not in the contract (I know I cannot be pressured of fired for this)?

Waiting until you start work, then springing such a surprise on your employer is probably not a good idea.

While they may not be able to fire you or pressure you, I'm sure you understand that it can be an unpleasant situation all around. Within the bounds of the law and your contract, you might be denied raises, made to work shifts that you would not prefer, and given less than desirable projects. Workers who don't go along with the company culture can tend to become very unhappy.


This is going to be dependent on culture (both company culture and general workplace culture), but usually if something is important for you, you should absolutely mention it in the interview. After all, if the company cannot/does not want to respect your wishes, you are unlikely to be happy in your job.

However, you might want to consider what exactly your needs are, and how to best communicate them. Some points to consider:

  • Are you really absolutely, 100% unwilling to do even a minute of overtime? That might seem unreasonable. Think about where your limit is: Only in emergencies? Not more than three times a month? An hour once a week?
  • Communicate your boundaries clearly but respectfully. Don't say "I never work overtime" - rather "I am most productive with a regular work day."
  • Instead of flat out stating your requirements, consider asking first: "What is work like here? When do people typically come in and leave?" Then you'll get an impression first.

Ideally you want to find a company that shares your views on overtime. Or at least a company that respects your wishes, or limits overtime as far as possible. Such companies probably exist (excessive overtime is unproductive anyway), but you may have to do some searching.

  • I really liked the post, and I would like to know how to deal with the fact that they may lie to your thirs point. If they state the "legal" hours, but they are simply not done anywhere in the company, how do you even prevent that kind of thing? Is it possible, or am I being too paranoid
    – keont
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 12:02
  • @keont: No, I don't think you are being too paranoid. That's a good question - consider asking it as a question :-).
    – sleske
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 20:50

You have a better chance of getting a job if you don't mention it. Most employers anywhere expect people to at least have the ability to do some overtime if necessary.

I know I cannot be pressured of fired for this

That's great, and I'll take your word for that. However there is ALWAYS a way to get rid of a recalcitrant employee, an employer doesn't have to fire them for the 'actual' reason they want to get rid of them, they just need to satisfy local requirements (if any).

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