Learning Mandarin Chinese phrases to use during a Chinese-language job interview empowers you to bring your A-game to the table and impress your interviewers.
It’s no surprise that Chinese companies are often on the lookout for candidates with some sort of foundation in Mandarin.
After all, speaking Chinese will allow you to effectively network with Chinese clients, enable you to assimilate quickly into your working environment, and help foster better communication between you and your colleagues.
Assuming you’ve landed an interview with a Chinese company, you may be feeling nervous and excited at the same time.
An interview can be a nerve-racking experience to begin with.
Add a foreign language into the mix, and you may be feeling like a muddled mess.
With some practice and commitment, though, you will be able to carry a decent conversation with your interviewersi - as daunting as it may sound.
Whether or not you’ll be working in China or using Mandarin for your daily work tasks, it’s best to have a few useful Mandarin phrases up your sleeve when going for the interview.
It’s a strategic display of commitment and enthusiasm and could make all the difference. 😄
In this guide, I’ll cover some of the terms and phrases you can use during an interview in Chinese and how you may respond to some questions commonly projected by interviewers.
Phrases to use during your Mandarin Chinese interview
An interview can head in many different directions, so I won’t be able to cover every single phrase you’ll need during the interview.
Nonetheless, we’ll walk you through some terms and sentences you may find helpful during each stage of the process.
Greeting your interviewers
A good first impression goes a long way.
As you enter the room, you can greet your interviewers with a 你好 (nǐ hǎo), which means “Hello.”
This is a formal expression, meaning you won’t use it in casual conversations with your friends and family.
In this case, though, it is suitable, since interviews are considered a formal setting.
You can also use 您 (nín) to replace 你 (nǐ) throughout the conversation.
您 is used to convey sincerity and respect and is usually reserved for formal occasions (like an interview).
Other options you can consider when greeting your interviewers are 上午好 (shàngwǔ hǎo) or 早上好 (zǎoshang hǎo), which both translate to “Good morning.”
If your interview has been scheduled for the afternoon, you can say 下午好 (xiàwǔ hǎo), meaning “Good afternoon.”
This phrase is usually reserved for use between 12 pm to 6 pm.
While greeting your interviewers, you may give them a slight bow.
Handshakes are very common in Western countries, but not so much so in China.
You may, of course, go in for a handshake if they extend it first but if they don’t, it’s best not to push it.
Wait for them to say 请坐 (qǐng zuò), meaning “Please have a seat” before taking your seat.
Your nerves might still be acting up at this phase.
But don’t worry - introducing yourself using Mandarin Chinese isn’t as hard as you think.
To break the ice, you may ask your interviewer(s) how you may address them, especially if it’s a one-on-one interview.
You can use 请问怎么称呼? (qǐngwèn zěnme chēnghu) to ask this.
It means, “How may I address you?”
After that, your interviewer may then prompt you to introduce yourself by saying the phrase, 请自我介绍一下。(qǐng zìwǒ jièshào yīxià.)
Based on your resume, they’d probably already know your name.
However, you could still start your introduction with a simple sentence stating your name.
You may say 我的名字是… (wǒ de míngzi shì…) followed by your name.
While you’re at it, you may also state where you’re from and what languages you can speak.
Talking about your work and educational background
Let’s start with your educational experience.
Here are some phrases you can use.
You’ll have to tailor them to suit your background. But these phrases should form a solid backbone for talking about your expertise and experience.
These are some phrases you can use to talk about your work experience and previous positions.
These examples show how you can fill in blanks accordingly.
This can be complicated.
But the good news is that you have time to fill in the blanks and practice these phrases before the actual interview.
If possible, find a friend who can speak Mandarin, and have them roleplay as the interviewer and point out your mistakes.
Also, if you aren’t sure what your previous company’s name is in Chinese, saying it in English should be acceptable.
If you’d like, you could elaborate a little on what the company does (just in case the company isn’t well-known in China).
Explaining your skills
Grab the opportunity to talk about your skills and strength.
If you aren’t from China, speaking Mandarin is a valuable skill. But your employers would want to know what else you bring to the table.
Your interviewers may prompt you to talk about your skills and expertise by saying 我们为什么应该录用你? (Wǒmen wèishéme yīnggāi lùyòng nǐ?), meaning ‘Why should we hire you?”
Your reply can go along these lines:
我是位很… 的人 (wǒ shì wèi hěn… de rén), which means “I am a very [insert strength/trait] person.
For instance, you may say 我是位很勤奋的人 (wǒ shì wèi hěn qínfèn de rén), meaning “I am a very diligent person.”
Some other adjectives you can use are as follows:-
They may also ask 你最大的优点是什么? (Nǐ zuìdà de yōudiǎn shì shénme?), which means, “What is your greatest strength?”
You may also hear something along the lines of 你的优缺点是什么? (Nǐ de yōu quēdiǎn shì shénme?) This translates to “What are your strength and weaknesses?”
You have limited airtime, so we’ll get to the strengths first.
You can say 我擅长… (wǒ shàncháng), meaning “I am skilled at [insert expertise].”
For instance, you can say 我擅长营销。(Wǒ shàncháng yíngxiāo.)
What this means is, “I am skilled at marketing.”
Another example is 我擅长学习语言。(Wǒ shàncháng xuéxí yǔyán.), meaning “I am good at learning languages.”
You can also reply with 我觉得 我最大的优点是… (Wǒ juédé wǒ zuìdà de yōudiǎn shì…)
This means, “I think that my greatest strength is [insert trait].”
As an example, you can say 我觉得我最大的优点是耐心和毅力。(Wǒ juédé wǒ zuìdà de yōudiǎn shì nàixīn hé yìlì.) This translates to “I think my greatest strengths are patience and perseverance.”
You’ll realise that having a decent vocabulary is crucial to explaining your strengths, skills, and experience.
Of course, you won’t have to swallow the entire dictionary.
But having a few of these phrases off the top of your mind can go very far in impressing your interviewers and showing your enthusiasm for the job.
Practice a few of these phrases, adapting them to suit your qualities, strengths, and traits. And you’ll be good to go.😄
Talking about your weaknesses
Nobody’s perfect. Your interviewers might very much appreciate your honesty.
When it’s time to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, you may hear something along the lines of 你的弱点是什么? (Nǐ de ruòdiǎn shì shénme?), meaning “What are your weaknesses?”
It’s a tough question, but one you can ace.
Your interviewers probably understand that Mandarin isn’t your native language.
So there isn’t much of a need to use bombastic phrases or complex answers. Something simple, thoughtful, and genuine might just do the trick. 😊
Here are some sample answers you can use:-
You can further explain what you’re doing to improve or work on these weaknesses.
For instance, if you find that your public speaking skills are poor, you may let your interviewers know this: 我在公开演讲前会好好准备的。(Wǒ zài gōngkāi yǎnjiǎng qián huì hǎohǎo zhǔnbèi de.)
This means “I will prepare well before doing any public speaking.”
Putting it all together, this is a sample answer.
Flipping the roles
Well, look how the tables have turned. It’s your turn to interrogate them.
Just kidding. 😁
Your interviewers may ask another famous question — a question to be answered by a question:
This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position.
Here are some sample answers you can use.
Their answer may be a little too complicated to understand fully.
But this will score you some extra brownie points compared to a lazy, unenthusiastic 没有 (méiyǒu), aka “No questions.”
Finishing up with a professional touch
Congratulations on (nearly) reaching the end of the interview!
But the battle isn’t over just yet.
Here’s how you can professionally wrap up the interview and leave a lasting impression:
You can demonstrate your eagerness and enthusiasm using the phrase 我希望贵公司能给我一个机会。(Wǒ xīwàng guì gōngsī néng gěi wǒ yīgè jīhuì.)
This means, “I hope your company decides to give me a chance.”
If you’re feeling a little bolder, you can also ask 我最晚什么时候能得到回音? (Wǒ zuì wǎn shénme shíhòu néng dédào huíyīn?), meaning “When’s the latest I can expect a response?”
Finally, it’s time to thank your interviewers. It’s a great show of politeness (and music to their ears).
Then, give them a smile and a slight bow. Go in for a handshake if they initiate one. And finally, it’s time to take your leave.
It’s a wrap!
Going for an interview in Chinese can be nerve-racking
So thorough preparation beforehand will give you the upper hand.
Communicating clearly is essential. But your body language and etiquette during the interview can make or break the entire thing.
Here are some quick tips:
- Don’t ask about salary or pay so early on during the interview.
- Use two hands when passing or receiving documents.
- If your interviewer hands you their business card, take a moment to look at it, thank them, and then keep it.
- Yes, it is important to share your skills and strengths but don’t go overboard with it. Modesty is well-appreciated in Chinese culture. Let them know how excited you are to work with them.
I can’t cover every single thing in this guide.
But I hope this has helped you set some expectations on what to prepare for the interview.
Do you know of any other handy tips or phrases to tackle an interview in Mandarin Chinese?
If so, let us know in the comments below.