How to Ace a Job Interview With a Chinese Company

Questions During A Job Interview In China

China’s growing economy provides numerous job opportunities to locals and foreigners alike. Many people see China as the right place to pursue a career, counting on its huge economic potential. China has recently gone through a series of reforms in different areas, including education, so the so-called “state job allocation for college graduates” now no longer exists. It means attending interviews is an indispensable part of job-hunting.

If you are a foreigner looking for a job in China, you are probably concerned with a question: how to ace a job interview with a Chinese company?

Well, imagine you’re now sitting in an office facing a stern-looking Chinese interviewer. What you really need to remember is that you ought to take certain specific aspects of the Chinese culture into account when answering any question. Other factors, such as dress code and manners, are pretty similar to the western culture.

Therefore, in this article we offer you some advice on how to answer the most commonly asked questions during a job interview with a Chinese company.

How To Ace A Job Interview In China

Question 1: Self-Introduction

Example: “Tell Us About Yourself”

This is one of the most popular questions asked in the beginning of an interview. If you get asked this question in China, you must understand that modesty is a value that is highly appreciated in the Chinese culture. Therefore, while you’re “listing” all your good qualities, no matter if they are about life or work, try not to exaggerate your capabilities or boast about your “big connections” to leave an impression. Chinese people won’t see it as a sign of self-confidence, but a sign of superficiality.


Question 2: Reasons for Changing Jobs

Example: “What was the reason you left (are leaving) your previous company?”

Chinese people are considered hard-working, and at the same time they’re constantly looking for opportunities to improve their ability at work. “Not enough opportunities for self-improvement and career development” could be a satisfactory answer to this question. However, please bear in mind that some Chinese people are very sensitive, so you’d better not give answers such as “What I receive is not proportional to what I’ve done for my company”. It’s also not very appropriate in China to attribute your leaving to the work environment and your colleagues.


Question 3: Colleagues

Example: “What kind of people would you like to work with?”

In order to answer this question, try to shift the interviewer’s attention from “what kind of people” to yourself. In other words, try to make the interviewer feel that you’re looking for ways to adapt yourself to a new environment, but not asking other people to meet your requirements. Again, modesty plays an important role here.


Question 4: Dealing With Disagreement

Example: “What will you do if you and your manager can’t reach an agreement?”

Interpersonal relationship is a bit complicated in Chinese companies, and subordination is something quite delicate, too. Therefore, avoid making yourself look too ambitious if you work in a Chinese company. If you are asked this question during a job interview, it’d be a good idea to show your willingness to respect your manager’s decision when it’s something non-critical. However, it’s worth mentioning that you would like to have a further discussion with your manager when it comes to a matter of principle.


Question 5: Lack Of Experience

Example: “You don’t have any relevant work experience in this field, why should we choose you?

If you just graduated from college and are looking for a full-time position, you are likely to be asked this question. Sincerity is the key. In Chinese culture, sincerity and loyalty are highly valued. Let your future employer see your passion and readiness to work for him/her, as well as your willingness to learn new things for the position you apply for. In other words, attitude in this case is more important than experience.


Question 6: Salary Expectations

Example: “What kind of salary are you expecting to get?”

Try not to show too much hesitation when answering this question, otherwise the interviewer would think that you don’t really know what you want. However, Chinese people are very practical, which means they are expecting you to give a reasonable salary range, a salary range which is consistent with your educational level, your work experience and your job responsibilities. Therefore, it’d be better to do a bit of market research related to the specific field that you work in.


How To Ace A Job Interview In China

We hope these tips will help you gain some confidence before a job interview. Now, one final piece of advice (very common but true) – be yourself. Show your future employee and colleagues the “you” they might get a chance to work with.  Good luck with getting the job you’ve been dreaming of!

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That’s Mandarin Blog offers tips and advice on living and studying Mandarin in China, and explores the stark cultural differences between the East, the West – and everything in between.

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