Tips and Considerations When Interviewing in China

While most job interviews tend to involve very similar questions and processes, its important to come prepared so you can ace your future meetings and stand out from the crowded pool of hungry candidates.

Based on past experiences and personal knowledge, weve compiled a series of interview questions and tips on how to answer them to give you the best chances to land your next job in China. 

1. Introducing yourself


Introducing yourself

Dont fall into the trap of telling the interviewer the story of your life. Instead, this question tests your ability to present your candidate profile in an eloquent and practical way by sharing a more personal side of your experience that isnt already on your CV. Because if youre already sitting in a room with them, chances are theyve already looked at your CV and read your experience there.

Focus on how you approached specific problems you and (if applicable) your team faced, and how you overcame them. How you interact with your colleagues or classmates during projects if you dont have any prior working experience. 

Show them a side of your personality that your CV doesnt.



Evaluating your strengths and weaknesses

Our advice is to think of this question well ahead of time and come up with three strengths and one to two weaknesses. Make sure that this list is related to the job youre interviewing for, as you may find that some weaknesses (or strengths) have nothing to do with the tasks or company culture youll be joining, should you get the role.

About your weaknesses

While you want to be transparent and true to yourself when talking about your weaknesses, avoid mentioning personality traits that would make any recruiter feel that you wouldnt fit with their company culture (such as having a bad temper or not getting along with others). On the other hand, avoid turning what would normally be a strength into a weakness, such as being too kind to people or a perfectionist. 

Once youve identified 1-2 weaknesses, be fair and mention how youre working on improving them. For instance, if youre more of an introvert, you may want to say that youre trying to gain more social experience by attending events, creative gatherings and other social outings.



What you (should) know about their company

This is where it shows how much homework youve done and, more importantly, how much you care about this position. As soon as you receive an email or call back about scheduling your first interview, you should start researching everything there is to know about the company, the role itself, and - if you want to get your stalking skills to the next level - about the person or people you would be working with. A quick LinkedIn search will do the trick.

Browse their website and learn about their services, products, or past (and ongoing) projects theyre working on. Search their company name online and go to the News section to look out for any potential recent updates related to that company that you might want to mention during your interview (only if it makes sense based on your conversation). 

If youre interviewing for a publicly-traded company, take a look at their annual reports. What is their business vision for the next few years? What plan do they have to get there? (This information tends to be more easily accessible and detailed than private companies, although many will share a brief overview of their mission and goals on their company website). 

This is a question you cannot afford to mess up, and one that will quickly filter out candidates who show they dont know their stuff and, consequently, dont care much about the company. 



Describing your past work experiences

As mentioned earlier, dont start listing out everything thats already written on your resume. This is your chance to talk about what you didnt have space to include in it, in more practical words. Share examples of problems you faced and some of the impact that youve had on the company - not necessarily just about the work itself but the culture in a broader view. Help the employer visualize how well you would fit within their own company culture. 

Regardless of how big or small your impact and work was, show them the side of you that you want them to know more about. For instance, if you proactively reached out to other teams to help them on a specific project you knew you could make a difference on, say it. Itll show that youre willing to take the extra time and make the extra efforts to help your colleagues and, in the long run, the company. 

When asked why you decided to change jobs, dont badmouthing your past employer(s). All this will do is leave a bad impression of you. If it really did end badly between you and your last company, just mention your interest in taking on bigger challenges in a new environment. Bring the focus back to the role youre interviewing for and really want to land at their company.



Getting to the nitty-gritty in China: overtime

Its very common for companies in China and other parts of Asia to have their employees put in longer hours than required to get the work done. And in many cases, those extra hours are unpaid, so you when it gets down to expressing your views on that matter (if it does get mentioned in your interview), take a second or two to really think about your answer.

What not to say

Dont think this is an opportunity to tell them how much you loooove working overtime and will happily burn the midnight oil every single day if asked to. But dont go the complete opposite route and tell them youre 100% against working overtime and wont put in an extra second once the clock hits 6PM. Be smart. 

What you can say

Tell them that while you dont mind working overtime if its required to get the job done, your priority is to be the most efficient you and your team can be (if youre required to work with one) by completing your tasks in a way that would hopefully not require you to work longer hours. But at the end of the day, your end goal is to help the company move forward in the direction it needs to go, so if overtime is needed, then so be it. 

Extra tip: What if they ask if you dont mind not being paid for overtime work?

Our advice: tell them youre not in it for the money, but for the work youll be doing that youre (we hope) passionate about. And while you dont mind not getting paid the extra hours, you expect all of your overtime work to be reflected upon in your performance review.



Do you have any questions for us?

Most, if not all interviews, end with this open ended question. Let us start off by underlining the crucial importance of NOT answering this question with a No, nothing unless youve realized that this is not the type of company youd like to work for during this interview. That happens.

But if youre still interested in joining their team, show them. Be curious. Dont shy away from asking personal questions (not too personal) about what made them want to join the company. How would they describe their company culture? Why is this position vacant now? What challenges would the role youre interviewing for hope to overcome? What does the rest of the interviewing and on-boarding (if youre hired) process look like? 

If you have questions related to the research you did ahead of your interview, mention them. For instance, if this is a startup and you read a news article reporting that they recently raised a large sum of money from private investors, what do they plan to do with that additional capital? 

On the more personal side of your role, what kind of benefits package do they offer beyond the salary (they may not be willing to share those figures in your first meeting)?

At the end of the day, just be yourself. Do the prep work, put in the necessary hours to research the company, get your list of strengths and weaknesses ready, and walk in there feeling like a champ. If you find that you have to pretend to be someone youre not just to get on their good side, then this might not be the right company for you - and thats ok. The right opportunity wont be too far behind. 

Some last tips: dont dress too weird, but dont show up in a three-piece suit if youre interviewing for a company in an industry thats known for its casual vibe (but you may want to consider that type of outfit for more rigid, corporate environments like finance or law). That should come up in your research.

Proper eye contact, but not too creepy. Focus on the end goal: leaving the impression you want them to have about you - the real you. If you follow our advice, theres no doubt youll ace your next interview.

Break a leg! Youve got this.

Editor: Crystal H