Behavior, Tips and Etiquette for Chinese Job Interviews

Behavior, Tips and Etiquette for Chinese Job Interviews
Aug 31, 2017 By

Last week we brought you an article about how best to prepare for an interview in China. Now it’s crunch time and you’re in the panic room. Here are some tips on the norms of Chinese interview etiquette to help you get the job of your dreams.

Source: studio tdes


“Face” (面子 miànzi) is a highly important concept in Chinese society. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the face-to-face interview is the most important part of the hiring process. One of the biggest concerns for a Chinese employer when it comes to hiring a foreigner will be how well you’ll fit into the company culture and Chinese working environment. If you can demonstrate cultural awareness by following a few simple rules in the interview you’ll already be steps ahead of your competitors.

Dress Right

Although the younger generation are starting to mix it up a bit when it comes to work clothes in China, it’s best to err on the side of conservatism when picking out your interview outfit. For more information on how best to dress for an interview in China, read our dedicated guide here.

Arrive Early

Obviously you lose points for turning up late to an interview in any country, but in Chinese culture particularly it’s very disrespectful to be tardy. Try to arrive 10 or 15 minutes early and present yourself as calm and relaxed when they call you into the room.

Use Formal Titles

The Chinese generally never use first names, so make sure you find out the family name (Xìng 姓) of your interviewer and address them by their family name + formal job title, or family name + “Mr” (Xiānshēng 先生) or “Mrs” (Tàitài 太太).

Don’t Go in for a Handshake

As a Westerner, you may find it automatic to go in for a handshake on first meeting someone. However, this is not the custom in China, so try to avoid the temptation. Don’t initiate a handshake yourself, but of course follow your host’s lead if he/she offers one. More likely is that they’ll extend a slight bow towards you with the right fist inside the left palm. Do the same and only sit down when they sit.

Pay Attention to Business Cards

Business card etiquette in China is very important, and many people pride themselves on both their own card and their ability to network and collect those off others. Even if you’re currently unemployed, it’s a good idea to have some business cards printed out so you can take part in this important custom. Have one side printed in English and one in Chinese whenever possible, and don’t forget to include your WeChat ID.

When giving and receiving business cards in China, always use both hands and accompany the gesture with slight bow. You should then study the business card before laying it carefully on the table in front of you. Never write on the card or put it in your wallet or pocket. Invest in a small card case instead.

Don’t Talk About Salary on the First Date

Business dealings in China tend to be subtle and rather slow. When potential business partners meet for the first time, for example, they will often not talk shop until late into the meeting or even avoid business chat all together. Like much of China life, business is based on relationships (Guānxì 关系), and the same principles should be followed in interviews.

Don’t talk about the salary or benefits in the first interview unless your potential employer brings it up. Look a the first interview like a first date. You’re just getting to know each other. You can talk about the serious stuff later if you go to the next base.

Keep Yourself in Check

While some Western companies may rate personality and enthusiasm very highly when interviewing potential employees, it’s improper to be too extrovert in an interview situation in China. The Chinese don’t tend to talk so much with their hands, so try to keep your gestures small. If you need to point at someone in the interview room, use an upturned palm rather than a finger.

Concentrate on keeping your posture straight and speaking slowly and clearly rather than showing off your sparkling personality. Also avoid touching your mouth in any way, as that’s one of several Western habits that Chinese people find gross

Sprinkle in Some Chinese

Chinese employers want to see that potential hires are invested in China for the medium to long term and making an effort to assimilate into the culture. An easy way to show you’re on board with this is to sprinkle in a couple of Chinese phrases when you can. Be sure to underline your plans to continue learning the language, as this will reassure them that you’re in for the long haul.

Be Modest

Job interviews in Western culture are all about selling yourself. In China, however, modesty is highly valued. Obviously talk about your skills and what you can bring to a role, but try to avoid boasting or sounding too full of yourself. Instead focus on the company, what you like about it and why you are excited about the prospect of working with them.

Now you know all this, you’re ready to upload your CV, apply for jobs and start getting interviews via

Good luck!

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Keywords: job interview tips China Chinese job interview etiquette


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Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

Oct 13, 2017 13:45 Report Abuse



I have to ask... When is the "how to be a Pollyanna" article going to come out?

Sep 01, 2017 15:34 Report Abuse



I have to disagree with the idea of not talking about salary. I think in China that is one of the most important things to talk about. That should be nailed down very clearly or it's open to all kinds of abuse.

Sep 01, 2017 10:36 Report Abuse