(This is a personal blog and what’s written here is my personal journey. Please do not use this as a guideline for your application at Rakuten because it is not.)
During my first trip to Japan last April 2013, we were hosted by our friend who works at Rakuten. He is still working there right now. In fact, he has been recently promoted last year. It was the first time I ever heard of Rakuten. It is one of the largest e-commerce in Japan, and is currently expanding in Europe and USA. They offer a large number of services and ecosystem across all of their products. They have recently made a patch deal with the Golden State Warriors for 3 years. Not only that, they also made a long term deal with FC Barcelona which puts the Rakuten brand at the front of their jerseys. How cool is that?
I actually applied at Rakuten around June 2012 for the first time. It was from a recruiter. However, things didn’t work out and my CV didn’t get through even to their HR. It must have been difficult to apply there. I’ve moved on and got a good job at OLX Philippines and have been happily working here for 5 years. When I was already planning my exit strategy for 2018, I was applying for a scholarship at Keio University IGP Application for Fall 2018. I was accepted and just waiting for the scholarship results to be announced sometime in June or July. However, after submitting and completing all my requirements for Keio, a recruiter from LinkedIn contacted me.
Touchbase with Recruitment Agency
The recruitment agency which contacted me was Japan Geo Adventures. At first, I don’t want to even bother replying because I want to be more focused with Keio. I asked the recruiter if it would be possible to know the companies just to check if I am qualified. I had a Skype interview with them last December 2017. It was a basic interview like checking the details on the CV that you’ve submitted to double check that you’re not a fraud, and also matching your skills with the appropriate job. I was eventually given two (2) options to apply. Somehow, I felt like I wanted the Web Application (PHP) Engineer for Bookmarks/Notifications job listing. I was then tasked to submit documents like cover letter, survey, etc. Everyone in Japan was also on winter vacation so I had to wait until January of 2018.
Codility Online Coding Exam
Around mid-January, I received an email invite from Codility. It was from Rakuten and they wanted me to take the test online. There were a lot of references that you can search online regarding the Codility exam from Rakuten. The questions mostly were about getting the area of two rectangles. This problem wasn’t new to me because I’ve already heard about it during the OLX Tech Leads Conference that I attended in Berlin last 2015. I already know the possible edge cases that you need to consider. I already did pre-work and already had an idea on how I will approach the problem. But alas, upon starting the coding test, it wasn’t the question. It was fairly moderate in difficulty level. But believe me, if you don’t have a Computer Science background or don’t have enough experience, your solution will not be as efficient and optimized. I could still remember before during a whiteboard coding interview with Dean Berris, he gave me problems which I was able to solve. However, solving it was one thing. Optimizing it was another. It was a very productive interview and I learned a lot from him. Fast forward 9 years, and I was able to apply what he taught me during that moment. Thanks Dean! I was able to solve the coding problem and was pretty confident about it.
I got the results of my Codility exam after a week. The recruiter told me that I can proceed with the panel interview. The good thing about Rakuten and GeoAd recruitment is that they ask you of your available time. I always set mine to 6pm because it’s after office core hours. There were three (3) people on my interview panel. One manager, and two engineers. The manager and one engineer were Japanese who spoke English. The other engineer was Indian. They asked questions which were already familiar to me so I was able to answer everything confidently. There were some items also that I don’t have experience. I just told them that I don’t know what it is. It’s good to be confident with the topics that you have experience with, and also to be completely honest with those that you are not familiar with. I don’t really believe in the “fake it until you make it” manifesto. I want to be as honest as possible. The interview probably lasted around 30-45 minutes. It was a very productive interview and I was able to ask questions about the team that I will be joining “in case” I will be given a job offer.
Again, after a week, I got the results from the panel interview. I did receive some good feedback from the panel according to my recruiter. I don’t know. But I sometimes have the imposter syndrome (not to be confused with Dunning–Kruger effect). The funny thing was, the given schedule slots hits on my vacation leave for Japan. I told my recruiter that I won’t be available for the next two (2) weeks. I did disclose though that I will be in Japan during those days. The recruiter was able to ask Rakuten to schedule my availability. However, the chosen timeslot hits on the day that I will be returning home. Geo Adventures was kind enough to offer to me a reimbursement of my return ticket and hotel accommodations. According to them, it really is a perfect timing since I am already in Japan. I agreed and rebooked my return flight, but I didn’t asked for a reimbursement. I just didn’t want to have any attachments to anyone.
The Rakuten Tech HR also sent an email for my pre-interview requirements. I was tasked to read two (2) of Hiroshi Mikitani’s books. He is the CEO of Rakuten and has actually written quite a number of books. After reading the books, I was asked to submit an essay or reaction paper about the book. I am a slow reader so I must admit that I just skimmed through the 2nd book. I did learn a lot about the book. There were things that I agreed upon, and some that I think are on a case-to-case basis. These books are actually for sale so I was lucky enough to have a “password protected” digital copy for FREE!
These were the books that I was tasked to read:
- Five Principles of Success
– This is also on their website and serves as a guideline on how the Rakuten culture works. Mikitani-san also wrote something about it on LinkedIn. I decided to concentrate on reading this given that I only have a week to submit my essay.
- Golden Rules of Success
– This is quite a lengthy book. There’s a total of 92 items, but it should be taken with a grain of salt since it will always be different depending on your circumstance.
Rakuten Crimson House Tokyo HQ
After submitting everything and interview schedule settled, my recruiter and I decided to meet at the Rakuten Crimson House at their Tokyo Headquarters. She wanted me to have a glimpse on how the life is at Rakuten and the surrounding areas. We are to meet at around 1:30pm, but I decided to go early and roam around the vicinity. The Rakuten Crimson House is just around 3-5 minutes on foot from the Futako-Tamagawa station.
Since I was early, I went to the nearby riverbank and roamed around. There were people eating their bento lunch, kids playing, and some who were just merely getting a fresh air.
I met with the recruiter at the Futako-Tamagawa station around 1:15pm and she toured me around the area. I didn’t know the entrance was on the other side and not on the side facing the river. We got inside their public area at the lobby. I got to read the history of Rakuten and the timeline of their products and innovations.
After the tour, my recruiter and I had some coffee and talked about Japan and the Philippines. It was an informative and substantial discussion about life in Tokyo in general. She also lived in Canada and Australia that’s why she speaks really good english. She can even get the context of my jokes which speaks so much about her ability understanding the english language.
The day before my final interview, I visited the Geo Adventures office in Odaiba because I forgot to give my omiyage to her. It was a good thing also because their CEO bought me some pants and formal polo clothes. Their office is right across Miraikan and very near Diver City. I got to visit Unicorn Gundam once again.
I arrived around an hour early for my final interview. I roamed around the area looking for a good lunch and I found a restaurant beside KFC. I ordered gyudon and apparently it came with a free clam soup. I hate clam soup! Good thing I was able to smell it first before sipping, otherwise I’d be sick during my interview. I contacted the recruiter and told her if it’s possible for me to register at the area at 1:10, 20 minutes early. She said it’s too early and that 1:20 might be a better idea. Japanese accuracy and punctuality at its finest. So I went inside the Crimson House, registered at the ipad area and waited for someone to come pick me up. There was specifically no other instruction other than to “wait” near the wide LCD screen. I was given a check-in badge with a guest wifi credentials. I waited and after several minutes, someone from their HR went down and called for my name. I was given another temporary ID and got access to the building. I was accompanied I think at the 7th floor meeting rooms where I had to wait for my interviewer inside a meeting room. There, I met Tatsuya “Tats” Kinugawa. He is currently the General Manager of the EC Incubation Team. He speaks english fluently and was a very fun person to talk to. We discussed about the culture of Rakuten and how it is like working inside. He gave me situational questions which actually happens in real life. I gave out my opinions and solutions to him, based solely on my own experience. Some which I didn’t had any experience, I had to answer as honestly as possible. The interview only lasted about 30 minutes. Kinugawa-san was kind enough to extend another 8 minutes of his time as I asked questions about the team and the projects that they’re currently working on. He was a busy person so he had to leave immediately. He told me that I will have the results after a week. After the interview, the same HR accompanied me downstairs to the lobby. We did a little bit of chat like where did I go in Japan, how it’s like in the Philippines, and how she was not actually expecting me to come in person during the final interview. I guess rebooking my flight to have the final interview personally did make an impact somehow.
I was expecting the results to come the next week. I know I did well all through the process. I gave out my all and the best of my skills and knowledge. So even if I don’t get the job offer, I am still proud of myself that I was able to reach as far as getting the final interview. But lo and behold, my recruiter messaged me three (3) days after my final interview!
Finally, all the effort and hard work paid off! I had a skype meeting with the Rakuten Global HR to discuss the offer sheet. I had several questions listed down, but most of them were already answered during the meeting. The global HR person was very clear on explaining every item. It was a no-brainer decision for me. I signed the document and handed it over to my recruiter. So for now, let’s wait for further announcements. I will also try to write about my journey to officially becoming an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker). Hehe.
Prior to the application, I researched about Rakuten. No doubt about it that their brand is really huge and their engineer recruitment video is awesome. However, I’ve read several bad reviews about Rakuten in Glassdoor. I became doubtful about the company for a moment, but given the number of reviews of less than 600, I don’t think it really speaks about the entirety company. There is no perfect company and I’ve been to worst. But Rakuten probably is one of the best companies to work for in Japan in my opinion. I have great pride working at OLX Philippines because my job gives huge and direct impact to every Filipinos on a daily win-win transaction. Rakuten will also give me that opportunity. To make a difference not only in Japan, but also on a global scale. I am definitely excited to be part of the company, and to blog more about my daily work experience.
So until then, see you in Tokyo come this July 1st!
Please contact me via email, LinkedIn, or at the comments section. Do not message me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram please.
Rakuten is very strict with confidentiality so please understand if I cannot disclose some information. Thank you for your understanding and have a great day ahead.
56 thoughts on “Job Offer at Rakuten Tokyo HQ”
Just want to know how many interviews you attended in Rakuten? Based on your blog, after panel interview, next was final interview?
Is there any technical interview during your final interview? or on-the-spot coding challenge during your interview?
I only had 2 interviews with Rakuten. This is a case-to-case basis since my recruiter told me that usually there are 3 or more interviews.
There was no whiteboard coding exam during the panel interview since they already do that with the codility exam. The final interview is more of situational questions and culture fit interview. Still depends with the interviewer if he/she wants to verify your technical skills.
These are my experience on the pre-hiring process so it varies from people to people.
What was the question that you got on the Codility test? Could you share it with me here please?
Sorry I cannot disclose. Rakuten is very strict with confidential information leaking out. 😀 It should be easy enough for someone who has experience coding. 😉
Could you please share Five Principles of Success and olden Rules of Success that you get for FREE?
I have the same task right now. I need to read and review it.
Didn’t HR sent you a copy? You should get one if you have reached the final interview. If you didn’t get any, you can request from the HR.
I am also in the Final Interview stage where I need to read the “Principles for Success” and “Golden Rules of Success” ebooks. But I think the difference that we have is i have this note:
*You do NOT need to submit an essay.
Just wondering in this stage of the application process, is there still a chance that I might fail ?
So for being pessimistic, I’m just getting a little nervous with the result of my interview, hope you can give me an insight into this.
thanks and regards,
Yes I’ve heard also from some applicants who contacted me that they are no longer required to submit an essay. I’m not sure man, maybe it’s a case to case basis. But I’ve also read from other sources that most likely you’ll get the job offer already once you are on the final interview. Please do not quote me on that. 🙂
Thanks for the advice kabayan, if ever all goes well and I get blessed into passing this job application process. I probably might drop by your cube and say hi to you in person.
Thank you so much for this post.
@RakutenWannebe, did you receive a feedback from Rakuten after your final interview? May I know how many days were you able to receive it? Thank you so much. Hoping to get a response from you. 🙂
Regarding the codility exam, they sent it to me via email but I haven’t take it yet. May I know if this is truly a coding exam using different language?
Honestly, I am not good with coding since I do not have a background of it. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Yes it’s a coding exam and you have a wide array of programming language that you can choose. If you don’t have coding experience I think you will have a hard time as it is also time bound.
I suggest you take the sample codility exam that can be found online to give you an idea on how the exam and questions are structured.
Can u plz explain the questions asked in technical rounds??
Why should I?
Feedback came after 2 weeks and I passed 🙂 . Looking forward to meeting you in person once I start there.
Appreciate all your posts in this blog, cause it gave me some sort of a guide during the hiring process.
Congratulations on passing! Your hardwork paid off. Yes, just ping me and we can have lunch together (it’s free at the office). 🙂
First of all congratulations on making it to Rakuten! Your blog was pretty insightful. Am from India and my application is in process. Have cleared the coding round and two subsequent skype interviews and my third interview is scheduled this week. Just was curious about what to expect and how to prepare for this round and any pointers to how many rounds will be there?
Thanks & Regards,
Hi Shantanu! Congratulations and good luck!!
I have given the Codility test which was moderate in difficulty scale. I’m really curious about knowing how everything after that goes. I don’t have a Japan VISA and I applied for Rakuten Japan. I wonder if I’ll be rejected for that. Can you share me some details?
Congrats for making it to Rakuten!
Got a Codility test invite as well from them but I’m not ready to take the test 🙁
Reading your post makes me wanna pass muna, I need to prepare and do more Hacker rank or Codility practice tsk! I’ll reapply puhon…
Have fun learning! 🙂
Hello fellow Filipino!
I am also on the verge on my final interview for Rakuten.
They also let me read 2 of their books but no essay.
Any tips on the final interview?
No tips. Just be yourself. The final interview is to gauge whether you and the company are fit for each other. Congratulations on getting into the final interview. 🙂
Just want to know how many days did you receive your official job offer after the final interview?
Any insights on how long the results will take?
I got an invite to take codility test and also questionnaire which is having questions about the two books, I am getting very anxious about this. Can someone give me moral support 😉
Really want this badly 🙁
Sorry for missing your comment. I’m sure you can ace it!
Best of luck and God bless on your application!
I’m happy with the experience you’ve shared.
I have been contacted by recruiters and have conducted interviews via Skype. Then I was told to make a cover letter. I want to ask, who is the cover letter addressed to? to the agency or company?
For my experience, I addressed it to the Hiring Manager of Rakuten. But in any case, please confirm with your recruiter to whom you should address your cover letter to.
I just got an invitation for an interview from Rakuten but reading some comments and your blog i don’t know if i will be doing the codility test. Do you happen to know if testers will also do the test?
I’m not familiar with how testers are interviewed. Sorry. However, the area of rectangle problem that I mentioned in the article above is also applicable to QA. Makes you think about possible edge cases.
Thank you for the comprehensive experience on your journey to join Rakuten!
I’ve been thinking about the rectangles’ problem, and there is one case which seems was not considered on your sketch – if both rectangles are same width OR same height AND intersect without any corners inside each other.
On glassdoor most people mentioned it is an easy problem to solve, but it seems it has 5 scenarios to solve:
1. RECTANGLES DON’T OVERLAP – no corners inside and no edges inside
2. RECTANGLES PARTIALLY OVERLAP – with 1 or 2 corners inside
3. RECTANGLES PARTIALLY OVERLAP – same width or height, no corders inside but one edge inside
4. RECTANGLES COMPLETELY OVERLAP – no corners outside
5. RECTANGLES EQUALLY OVERLAP – both same size on top of each other
Am I missing something? This problems is not that easy to solve in 1 hour after all…
Let me know your thoughts and if I am missing something!
P.S. You are awesome!
I think your test scope is much better than mine. Thanks for your input.
I will take note of this in case I bumped into the same question again in the future.
I’m also curious about tester position iv and test process. Can u advise of you have experience it
I recently took codility test and was waiting for the recruiter to respond.
I see that (this recruiter or Rakuten as a whole) might not be into responding to candidates seeing that they dint respond to my conformation mail and inquiry mail.
I sincerely wish that you can clarify some of my doubts.
1. How long does the link stay alive (In codility they said couple of day after we receive while the mail from Rakuten gave a week deadline), I already took the test but this might clarify future candidates dilemma.
2. How much time would Rakuten usually take to respond after codility (Maximum)
If I happen to get an opportunity, I would be delighted to have pint with you mate.
With best regards
If the recruiter hasn’t responded yet, then most probably Rakuten didn’t give them word yet. I’m really not sure how the internal process works so the least that you can probably do is follow-up with the recruiter.
thanks for this article, I also just got a proposition from them (which I accepted);
then I have some questions for you about the job offer.
1) After sending them the job offer that you signed, did they send it back to you signed by a Rakuten representative (before your first day) ?
2) Did you receive your contract by postal delivery or did they give it to you on the first day (and then signed it) ?
Congratulations on the offer and send a ping once you’re on board!
I got my job contract via DHL before I left my country. The reason being is that the signed contract is required in my country before I could get out. It might be a different case for you, or they might’ve changed process. It would be better to ask them directly. 🙂
Thank you for this article, it’s very inspiring and helpful and sheds light on Rakuten that you don’t really find anywhere else on the internet.
I’m also looking to begin applying to Rakuten as a new-grad in Software Engineering. I was wondering if you had any tips on applying, and what is the best way to do so. I have read that some people recommend contacting HR directly regarding applying, and some others say to use their job posting website. Should I try applying for different Entry-level positions on their website, or should I contact HR directly about any openings where I would fit in.
I think it is better to create an account and apply at https://rakuten.careers/. Although I’m not sure for new grads. The process really varies since Rakuten is a very huge company to be honest.
Best of luck and God bless on your application!
Thank you for posting this insightful article. Is the working language mainly English in the tech department at Rakuten? I am applying for an internship at Rakuten Institute of Technology, just received the coding tests.
Yes English is used as medium of communication not just in the tech department, but the entire company.
Best of luck and God bless on your application!
I just took the exam in codility. It was really hard. I mean the exam was more on academic-like problem than a real-world problem. My question is, is there a chance that even if I didn’t ace the coding exam, I’ll still get into the interview process? I mean do you know someone who have this experience?
Hii sir…I cleared first round which is coding test …and I gave my technical interview on 25sep19 …how log will they take to declare the results ….and wht are the chances I gave 70-75%correct answers
Please follow-up with them or with your recruiter.
It’s very nice to hear your success story. If it’s possible I would like to ask how was the 2nd Interview from the Rakuten. I was also on my journey in hoping to get an offer in Rakuten and I just passed the 1st Interview. Was the 2nd interview very much the same like the 1st one? or probably much on technical side?
Would be very glad to hear your response.
i just did the codility test, but comes up with one mistake which I can’t fixed it until the time finished. so i just submitted my result. do you think Rakuten will let me passed to the next process?
I really cannot answer that question. Let’s hope for the best outcome!
i had 3 rounds of the interview with Rakuten Mobile starting since 2 months ago via Zoom. last round with department manager was 4 dec 2019 . do you know how long time will take to share the result to me and whether both positive or negative result will be shared with me at last and how ( email by recruiter or system email ? actually what’s HR process to share a feedback to me and finally a Job offer ?
Hiring process differs per department. Better contact your recruiter. As far as I know, they will send acceptance or rejection emails.
Thanks Ridvan for your reply. Just linkedin is contact point between me & Rakuten recruiter since he
Sent related offer to me by this way and then frequents email by Rakuten HR department to arrange interview sessions. basically what’s HR cultures against my 2 email/message requests to let me know the result then . “No replies” by them means that they do not receive any feedbacks yet to share ?
Before a week I had a first round in Rakuten but have not got the feedback should i wait for another week or can i contact the HR?
How’s your life in Rakuten now? Are the reviews from Glassdoor true?
I just wanna know the work-life balance in Rakuten.
I’m having second thoughts because I heard so many negative feedbacks.
Sorry for the late response. Most probably those are true for some people. All I can say in my more than 2 years here, is that it varies from each department and team.
I’m gonna have my first interview soon, and I think I can expect this interview to be an on-the-spot coding exercise, then onward to the technical interview. I really don’t know how the rest of the interview process will be due to the Corona, though. Well, what I want to ask is, is the whole interview process conducted in English? I only have been preparing for English answers in my part so far. Also, any tips will be highly appreciated 🙂
More power and God Bless!
depends probably on the team that you are applying for. For my experience it was all in english. It’s probably going to be via online same with me. I did the entire process from my home country that’s why most of my interviews were done online. Except for my final interview since I went to Japan for vacation during that time and my final interview was also scheduled during my stay.
All the best~
I also just had the final round interview with Rakuten, but just last 15 mins + 5 mins I asked questions to them. Is it a bad sign?
It should not be a problem. All the best and I hope you get that job offer.
Hi Ridvan, this is a great read. I’m currently at the final interview stage, I was wondering if you have any idea whether they would also support the VISA for my fiance? Or should we be married for them to support her as well.