How to deal with job interviews in China?

China’s economy is still growing and there are plenty opportunities for the right person to move up from a basic English teaching job to something more professional and better paid. Many expats find they have trouble breaking through into the higher level positions. Most of the better teaching jobs or professional positions require a face-to-face or telephone interview.

Have attended many interviews both as an applicant and Employer, I have noticed that interviews in China pose certain problems. So let’s look at some of the special or unique issues in attending interviews in China. Below are some of the core advices I give to people going to interviews.

job interview

Most places I have gone for interviews in China don’t even have a copy of my resume on hand. One place invited me to come to Shanghai at my expense for an interview. The first question in the interview was “Why did you apply for this job, you are not qualified?” Well in that case why did they waste my time and invite me to the interview?

You need a greater level of preparation for an interview. Don’t spend money unless you have a clear idea about what the job actually is. Bring a copy of your resume because often they won’t have a copy during the interview. I often bring copies of other things with me, such as teaching materials for teaching jobs, and examples of writing for writing jobs.

Be you
Everyone says this, but don’t just be you, be the best you that you can be. Show yourself at your very best. Sure the employer knows that you are not always going to be perfect. But take the example of a person I interviewed. His answer to the question of why he came to China was that he couldn’t get a good job in the US, and then his friend told him there was a future in China so he came to China. The latter part sounds great, but it would be better for him to leave out the former part.

Sell yourself
Every time you open your mouth in an interview is an opportunity to convince the interviewer to give you the job. Often the recruiter isn’t experienced. It is necessary for you then to convince them that you can do the job. You need to answer the questions that they didn’t ask. Often they look or the perfect person and you are far from perfect. But in China at the moment it is hard to find suitably qualified and experienced expats, so you may still be the best person for the job. It is up to you to convince them you can do this job.

Be professional
Professional standards in China are not at the same standards as in western countries. This is not an open invitation for you to be unprofessional. It is quite surprising how many people turn up to job interviews not wearing a tie or dressed professionally. The better the company the more impressed they will be by how seriously you take the interview.

Be positive and friendly
It seems that some expats in China spend their time sitting around complaining about everything. Leave those complaints behind when you go to an interview; the employer doesn’t really want to hear them. Maybe your last job had many problems and of course you can be honest and mention why you are leaving your last company. But I have heard half-hour sob stories from people even when I don’t ask them why they are leaving their job.

Let’s forget about the past and focus on the future job. Be positive and friendly. After all they want to work with you and being Chinese they will often need to socialize with you as well.

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