2021-07-19 18:06


How To Ace Your Chinese Job Interview

Home to a rapidly growing economy and a variety of burgeoning industries, China has quickly become a hub for global professionals looking to build careers across a diverse range of fields. If youre hoping to work in the Middle Kingdom, you might end up being invited to a Chinese-language interview.
This may seem daunting at first, but dont worry. In this article, we cover everything you need to know to prepare for a job interview in Chinese. 
Are you available for an interview... in Chinese?
So, you sent off your rsum and have finally scored an interview for your dream job in China. Whether youre hoping to enter the workforce as an entry-level language teacher or an executive account manager, this is your chance to impress your future boss or colleagues and start or continue climbing the ladder of career success in the Middle Kingdom. 
Now, all you have to do is ace the interview. 

Although its not always necessary for foreigners to speak Chinese while working in China, a growing number of international candidates have added Mandarin language proficiency to their list of accomplishments in recent years. Additionally, most Chinese employers seek applicants who are able to easily assimilate into their companys organizational culture, navigate the nuances of Chinese business etiquette and plan to stay put in the country long-term. 
Demonstrating your language skills will help strengthen your competitiveness as an applicant and improve your chances of hearing those magic words: (n bi gyng le), or, youre hired! 

A conversation in five parts

Before heading into your next job interview, thoroughly prepare yourself for whatever questions may be thrown your way by reviewing the following five common Chinese interview questions and advice for how to respond appropriately. Your future (hopefully employed) self will thank you!  

Part 1: Introduce Yourself Qng zw jisho yxi.Please introduce yourself. 
This is typically the first task that most interviewees face during a conversation with prospective employers in any country or language. Although describing your background, educational accomplishments and career history may seem like a straightforward endeavor, its worth taking a moment to think through your response beforehand. 

Lets start with the basics:

Nnho, ... nsh/xinshng. Hello, Mrs. / Mr. (name of interviewer).
Note that in Chinese culture, it is especially important to name your superiors or colleagues by their correct term of address. While placing (nsh; Mrs.) or (xinshng; Mr.) after your interviewers surname is acceptable if you dont know their specific position within the company, its preferable to mention a job title, such as (jngl; manager) after your interviewers surname if possible. 

W liz... Im from (country).
W de my sh My native language is (language). 
Once youve established your personal background, transition into your educational history next:
W by y I graduated from (university). 

W xu de zhuny sh I majored in 
If youve obtained advanced degrees, you may consider jumping directly to those at this stage: 
/W nin by y dxu, hud... shush / bsh xuwi.I (year of graduation) graduated from (university) and received a (field of study) masters/doctoral degree. 

This is also a prime opportunity to mention any other special training or designations that youve gained over the years, such as an HSK (; Hny Shupng Kosh) certificate:
W yu... zhngshI have (certification) certification. 

To wrap up your introduction, bring the interviewer up to speed on your work history by briefly explaining the relevant jobs youve held since graduation. Consider either of the following common sentence structures for this section: 
W cng zi fz 

Previously at (company name), I was responsible for (job duty).

Cng nin do nin, zi dnrnFrom (year) to year), I held the position of (job title) at (company name).  
Ready to put it all together? Check out this example of a complete, interview-friendly self-introduction in Chinese. 

Nnho, Wng Jngl. W jio Zhng Xiomi, jnnin 28 su, liz migu, my sh yngwn. 2016 nin by y Fdn Dxu, hud guj shngy shush xuwi. W yu Hny Shupng Kosh li j zhngsh, 2016 nin cng zi Jijil Guj Moy Gngs fz xioshu gngzu; cng 2017 nin do 2021 nin zi Lingling Guj Moy Gngs dnrn chnpn jngl.

Hello, Manager Wang. My name is Zhang Xiaomei and Im 28 years old. Im from the USA and my first language is English. I graduated from Fudan University with a masters degree in International Business in 2016. I have an HSK level 6 certificate. In 2016 I worked in sales at Jiajiale Trade Company. From 2017 - 2021, I served as the product manager at Liangliang International Trade Company.

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Part 2: Why do you want the job?N wih xing shnqng zh fn gngzuWhy would you like to apply for this job?

Hopefully, youve thought long and hard about this question before making it to the interview stage. Whatever your reasons are for applying, your Chinese job interviewer is sure to ask you to explain yourself. Therefore, its wise to first prepare a thoughtful and earnest response in order to demonstrate your seriousness as an applicant. 

Try out the following opening statement to preface your reply: 
Gu gngs shYour company is 

(gu gngs) is a polite way to say your company in Chinese and should be followed by a short statement praising the company where youre interviewing. Because of the significance of (minzi; face, a metaphor for reputation) in Chinese social and professional settings, offering compliments, or giving face, to your prospective employer is sure to position you in a favorable light. 

When explaining why youd like the job, mention the ways that you hope to grow professionally and contribute to the company, for example: 
W xingxn zi gu gngs ky xu do xn de jnng.I believe I can learn new skills at this company.  
W jbi gu gngs xyo de zhunchng.I have the skills that your company needs. 
After listing a few of your reasons for applying, summarize your response with this extra-authentic phrase: 
Zh fn gngzu ky rng w jnqsuchng.Ill be able to put my skills to full use at this job.

Part 3. Show your stuff

N zu d de yudin sh shnme?Whats your greatest strength?
This common interview question presents a perfect opportunity to highlight the professional competencies in which youre most confident. Since youll likely be asked this at some point during your conversation, be sure to first consider which of your many talents are most relevant to the position in question so that you can use your airtime wisely. Then, utilize the sentence structures below to show off your skills. 

W sh g hn... h... de rn. Im a very (adjective) and (adjective) person. 
Common characteristics likely to be well-received by Chinese employers include, but arent limited to, (rqng, enthusiastic or passionate), (fzrn, responsible), (jj, energetic or positive) and (zhdng, proactive)
Seize this opportunity to name any other concrete skills that havent yet come up during your conversation: 
 W shn chngIm adept at 
Whether your personal expertise is in (tundu gunl, team management), (yngxio, marketing) or something in between, everyone brings their own unique talents to the table. Identifying the strengths that youd like to highlight during your interview and researching relevant Chinese vocabulary will help you answer this interview question with confidence. 

Part 4. No one is perfect 

N de rudin sh shnme?

What are your weaknesses?

This final interview question is notorious for making job applicants of all backgrounds clam up. Fear not, however interviewers arent trying to torment you with this question, but are instead looking to gauge your level of self-awareness and potential for improvement. 
Take note of the below responses, generally considered appropriate during a Chinese interview: 
W shg wnmizhyzh.Im a perfectionist. 

 W gng cng xuxio by, miyu hndu shhu jngyn.I graduated recently and dont have much (social/life) experience. 
 W zhngsh pi jirn de shjin, suy kngp zhum b fngbin jibn. I value spending time with my family, so Im afraid that I cant work overtime on the weekends. 

Note that being expected to work overtime is very common in China. Overtime is particularly common in the tech industry, where workers must contend with the prevalence of 996 work culture, which refers to working 12 hour days, from 9am to 9pm, 6 days per week. 

Before using the response above in an interview, therefore, make sure you thoroughly research the company you hope to work for to get a feel for their requirements. If its clear that they expect you to work overtime on weekends, saying youre unavailable to do so might lose you the job. 
W de Zhngwn bgu ho!My Chinese isnt good enough! 
Remember, a tactful response that balances an honest approach and disguises your strengths as weaknesses will help improve your credibility and prove your tenacity and potential for growth to future employers.

Part 5. Wrapping things up

After the question-and-answer portion has wrapped up, you may sense that your interview is coming to a close. At this stage, youll probably hear the following sentence (or a similar closing remark) from your interviewer:

Wmen hu zi yg xngq zh ni d dinhu tngzh nn minsh de jigu!

Well notify you of your interview results within a week! 

Before shaking hands and bolting for the door, remember to graciously thank your interviewer for their time and for the opportunity to audition for the gig by concluding with a polite statement like the one below: 

Gnxi gi w zh c minsh jhu. 

I appreciate this interview opportunity. 

Chinese Interview Etiquette

Dazzling your interviewer with articulate and mindful replies is an essential part of acing your interview and moving on to the next stage of the application process. If youre preparing for an upcoming job interview in Chinese, keep in mind these social guidelines to leave your interviewer feeling confident that youre the right person for the job. 

Cultural Finesse  
As youre likely aware (or are soon to find out), Chinese workplace etiquette is often more formal and ceremonious than that of the western world. Be sure to dress formally, use official job titles when addressing your counterparts, and hand over documents, like rsums and business cards, with two hands as a sign of respect. 
Its also a good idea to keep in mind that in China, it is often socially acceptable for new acquaintances to ask questions that are deemed personal in western countries. Dont be surprised if your interviewer asks about your age, marital status, number of children, family plans and so on. Since it is perfectly normal to ask applicants for photos, save time by including the above information, as well as a professional headshot, when sending off your rsum. 

While its not recommended to proactively ask about salary during the first interview, be prepared for your interviewer to inquire about the salary you earned in your previous job. 
Lastly,  its important to mention that being modest (, qinx) is a cherished quality in traditional Chinese culture, and this virtue carries over into the Chinese workspace. Rather than proudly boasting about their accomplishments, many Chinese prefer to keep a low profile and maintain a sense of humility when discussing their educational and professional achievements. 
Since your interviewer may also be covertly evaluating your cultural finesse as a foreign applicant, keep your tone modest and polite throughout the interview to help make a proper impression. 
Keep on Improving 
Of course, the best way to excel during your Chinese job interview is to first make headway in your language and cultural skills. Not only will your ability to speak Chinese and navigate Chinese society shine through during your interview, these achievements will also help you stand out against less China-savvy competitors vying for your dream job. 

Invest time learning about Chinese language and culture by immersing yourself in China or integrating online lessons into your normal school or work schedule. Remember, honing your expertise in all things related to Chinese language and society is the key to a rewarding career in the Middle Kingdom.

About CLI  The Chinese Language Institute (CLI) was founded by a dedicated team of Western and Chinese educators in 2009. Drawing on years of combined personal and professional experience in China, they created an educational model that provides students a unique path to learning Chinese and understanding the PRC through a high degree of customization and complete immersion within a Chinese language environment. Based in the picturesque city of Guilin, CLI delivers a highly effective intensive Chinese Immersion Program, online one-on-one lessons, and custom travel programs for students of all levels and backgrounds. 

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