Draw or discard? Job recruiters in Japan use mahjong tournament to find prospects

Japanese companies looking to hire college graduates pit them against each other at the mahjong tables.
Female job seekers look at maps of a job fair held for fresh graduates in Tokyo on March 20, 2016.
Female job seekers look at maps of a job fair held for fresh graduates in Tokyo on March 20, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Fifty Japanese graduates opted to gamble with their job prospects at a mahjong tournament set up by recruiters looking for a different way to find the next high flyer.

Held in a crammed mahjong outlet in downtown Tokyo, prospects competed against each other on Friday (June 24) to gain the chance to face recruiters from six companies in the fitness, education, technology and real estate sectors.

"Mahjong is a very strategic game, so I think people who are good at it would be good at marketing. This is a new approach and I find it really interesting," candidate Tomoko Hasegawa, who is aspiring to become a designer, told Reuters.

Mahjong, which originated in China, is similar to the western card game, rummy, and players in Japan said the tile game required skill, strategy, calculation and a degree of chance.

Organisers said the recruiting tournaments began in 2012 and had gained popularity, mostly among male students, and also with hirers, who say the game revealed more about the candidates than just long pages of resumes.

On Friday, eight students advanced to the next round of the selection process.

Between five and ten students are recruited by participating companies every year, organisers said.