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A Guide for Preparing for a Chinese Interview

Thanks to its fast-rising economy, China has swiftly become a destination for international professionals wishing to build careers in various sectors.

If you want to work in China, you’ll be asked to participate in a Chinese language interview, which may seem intimidating to many foreigners. The good news is, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about preparing for a Chinese job interview.

Will learning Chinese help me get a job?

Knowing another language would expand the employment pool for you, especially if you’re talking about Mandarin Chinese, the second most spoken language in the world. 

Jobs that require Chinese language skills are diverse, including teaching, interpreting, research, analyzing, marketing, etc. Plus, China recently removed a work experience requirement for foreign candidates, creating new opportunities for many non-native university graduates on the job hunt.

You acknowledged the opportunity, sent off your résumé, and have finally scored an interview for your dream job. The next step is preparing for your interview, and the next section will help you with that.

What are the main parts of a Chinese interview?

Part 1: Introduce yourself

请自我介绍一下.

Qǐng zìwǒ jièshào yīxià.

Please introduce yourself.

This is one of the most often asked interview questions in any nation or language, and it generally occurs early in the interview. Many people usually think that this is a simple and easy question for which you do not need to prepare; however, it’s worth taking a moment to think through your response beforehand. 

Many interviewees seem to struggle with picking which aspects of their life, for example, background, educational accomplishments, and career history, to share with their potential employer. It’s fine to share some personal information about yourself, but keep the answer as professional as possible without making it sound too stiff. Also, rather than memorizing a long speech, it’s advised to use some essential talking points to lead your story.

Let’s start the conservation with the basics as:

您好 … 经理 (Nínhǎo, …jīnɡlǐ) — Hello, manager + Name of the interviewer

It’s Chinese business etiquette to address your superiors or colleagues by job title. In a formal context such as an interview, it’s preferable to mention a job title, such as 经理 (jīnglǐ; manager) after your interviewer’s surname.

However, if you don’t know the specific position of the interviewer within the company, placing either 女士 (nǚshì; Mrs.) or 先生 (xiānshēng; Mr.) after your interviewer’s surname is acceptable, for example,您 好… 女士/先生 (Nínhǎo, … nǚshì/xiānshēng) — Hello, Mrs. / Mr. (name of interviewer)

After greeting your interviewer, you can talk a bit about yourself, such as the place where you come from.

 我来自… (wǒ láizì…) — I’m from (country)

After you’ve established your personal background, move on to your educational history, such as your education level, major, and any degrees that you have obtained. 

我毕业于… (wǒ bì yè yú…) — I graduated from…

我学的专业是… (Wǒ xué de zhuānyè shì…) — I majored in…

我 … 年毕业于… 大学,获得 … 硕士/博士学位 (wǒ… nián bìyè yú… dàxué, huòdé… shuòshì / bóshì xuéwèi.) — I (year of graduation) graduated from (university) and received a (field of study) masters/doctoral degree.

To wrap up your introduction, describe the relevant jobs you’ve done after graduating. Here is a common sentence structure for this section:

我曾在 … 负责 … (Wǒ céng zài… fùzé… ) — Previously at (company name), I was responsible for (job duty).

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Part 2: Explain why you want this job

你为何想申请这份工作?

Nǐ wèihé xiǎng shēnqǐng zhè fèn gōngzuò?

Why would you like to apply for this job?

After learning about each candidate’s background, the interviewer would like to know how interested you are in this job. This is a tricky question because, basically, it involves many areas that the interviewer wants to evaluate, such as what skills you have, why you are in this job, and what you’ll bring to this team or company. So if you try to answer this question without thinking about your audience and what they want to know, you’ll get the “the kiss of death” and miss out on a precious opportunity. 

Luckily, there’s a simple way to answer this question effectively. First of all, do your research, collect information about the job and the company beforehand. This way, you can show off what you know and explain why you highly value the company on the interview day.

For example,

贵公司享有悠久的声誉

Guì gōngsī xiǎngyǒu yōujiǔ de shēngyù

Your company has a long-standing reputation.

In Chinese culture, pride and reputation are highly valued. And when Chinese people talk about those qualities, they use the word “mianzi,” which is translated as “face.” How you are perceived by others, and the respect you command from them is very important to Chinese business. Therefore, offering compliments or giving face to your prospective employer is sure to position you in a favorable light.

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When explaining why you’d like the job, mention the ways that you hope to grow professionally and contribute to the company, for example:

我相信在贵公司可以学到新的技能.

Wǒ xiāngxìn zài guì gōngsī kěyǐ xué dào xīn de jìnéng.

I believe I can learn new skills at this company.

这份工作可以让我尽其所长.

Zhè fèn gōngzuò kěyǐ ràng wǒ jìnqísuǒcháng.

I’ll put my skills to full use at this job.

Part 3: Describe your strengths and weaknesses

Describe your strengths

你最大的优点是什么?

Nǐ zuì dà de yōudiǎn shì shénme?

What’s your greatest strength?

This typical interview question is an excellent opportunity to display your most confident skills. 

You may have multiple skills that you have sharpened over time but think about skills that are most relevant to the position in question so you can make the most of your airtime. Below are sentence constructions to demonstrate your abilities.

我是个很 … 和…的人 (Wǒ shì gè hěn… hé… de rén) — I’m a very (adjective) and (adjective) person.

Common characteristics likely to be well-received by Chinese employers include 热情 (rèqíng, enthusiasm or passion), 负责任 (fùzérèn, responsible), 积极 (jījí, energetic or positive) and 主动 (zhǔdòng, proactive).

我擅长 (Wǒ shàn cháng…) — I’m adept at…

There are some soft skills that are in demand in today’s workforce, and if you have a chance to mention them, chances are you’ll get a plus point. These skills are 领导能力 (lǐngdǎo nénglì, leadership skills), 团队管理 (tuánduì guǎnlǐ, team management skills), 沟通技巧 (gōutōng jìqiǎo, communication skills), etc. 

Identifying the strengths that you’d like to showcase during your interview and researching relevant Chinese vocabulary will help you answer this interview question with confidence.

Describe your weaknesses

你的弱点是什么

Nǐ de ruòdiǎn shì shénme? 

“What are your weaknesses?”

Answering the question “What are your weaknesses?” might be difficult, especially if you intend to be talking about your qualifications, talents, and abilities that make you the fittest candidate for the position.

But if you can combine self-awareness with a solution towards your weaknesses, you’re framing your limitations in a good light. The key to preparing for this question is identifying your shortcomings that still communicate strength. This will show the interviewer you’re introspective enough to know your areas of opportunity.

Examples are:

我刚从学校毕业,没有很多社会经验 

Wǒ gāng cóng xuéxiào bìyè, méiyǒu hěnduō shèhuì jīngyàn. 

I graduated recently and don’t have much (social/life) experience.

我的中文不够好!

Wǒ de Zhōngwén bùgòu hǎo!

My Chinese isn’t good enough!

我重视陪家人的时间,所以恐怕周末不方便加班.

Wǒ zhòngshì péi jiārén de shíjiān, suǒyǐ kǒngpà zhōumò bù fāngbiàn jiābān.

I value spending time with my family, so I’m afraid I can’t work overtime on the weekends.

Overtime is particularly common in China tech industry, where workers toil in a grueling ‘996’ work culture, which refers to working 12 hour days, from 9 am to 9 pm, 6 days per week. 

Part 4: Wrap up the interview

This section usually includes a brief chance for questions, a thank-you to candidates for coming to the interview, and an explanation of when and how the candidate will hear back from the company. This part is generally short, lasting around five minutes. At this stage, you’ll probably hear the following sentence (or a similar closing remark) from your interviewer:

我们会在一个星期之内打电话通知您面试的结果!

Wǒmen huì zài yīgè xīngqí zhī nèi dǎ diànhuà tōngzhī nín miànshì de jiéguǒ!

We’ll notify you of your interview results within a week.

Before shaking hands and walking out the door, remember to thank your interviewer for their time and the chance to audition for the job with a courteous statement like the one below:

感谢给我这次面试机会

Gǎnxiè gěi wǒ zhè cì miànshì jīhuì.

I appreciate this interview opportunity.

You might be also interested in: How To Say Thank You In Mandarin Properly In Every Situation

A Chinese interview is not as difficult as you may think!

To nail your Chinese job interview, first, you have to improve your language and cultural abilities. Immerse yourself in Chinese culture and language by traveling to China, finding a language buddy, or signing up for Chinese online sessions.

If you’re interested in Chinese culture, history, or language, find more posts like this on Pandanese. Pandanese is a Chinese learning platform that helps users learn Chinese easily by employing mnemonics and Spaced Repetition System (SRS). We encourage you to check out our Pandanese blog and read as much as you like about language and culture topics before starting your learning!

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