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LAST WORD: The types of interviews that you attend in China
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The types of interviews that you attend in China

By Mike Cormack

BT 201508 03 Last Word job interview preparation hdwallwide comJob-hunting, as we all no doubt know, is one of those activities that ranks alongside dentistry trip to the detist and funeral arranging as the most painful of necessary chores. You just have to drag yourself through itas you tailor your resumes and craft those winning covering messages. Then after a few weeks or even months of seemingly dead email in-boxes and auto-reply messages and follow-up emails, you finally get the phone call, an interview can be arranged.

The bumbling amateur
You turn up requisite five minutes early (even if, knowing China's traffic, that means actually having got there half an hour early just in case and spending twenty five minutes and thirty yuan on a terrible local cafe). You report to the receptionist and she hands you a job application form even though all that information is on your CV, of which they obviously have a copy. The form asks for your hukou and ID card number. The pen she gives you does not work. You are kept waiting half an hour after you return the form. While you wait, you are given the choice of scalding hot water or lukewarm water, even though it's 30°C outside. Your interviewer finally arrives, but rather than interviewing you, she gives you a set of logical puzzles to do. Your quizzical looks are noticed, to which she responds, "Oh, this is how we like to see how smart our candidates are!" You sigh and try to puzzle out how many carriages of Train A will have passed Train B if Train A leaves Dalian at 10.14am and Train B leaves Qingdao at 7.37am.You are then summoned to the interview. You pass through the office where you'd be working and see a lot of people on QQ. At the interview, you are asked a lot of hypothetical questions rather than about your actual experience and background. When you have questions you're told that they don't know, the manager would be able to answer that but they only do the second round of interviews. You leave, but first go to the toilet. It stinks of cigarettes and dead butts clog the sink.

BT 201508 01 Last Word HLThe wannabe hard-nosed businessman
Chad Squarejaw is an American man in his late 20s. He has been in China for five years and speaks the language with some competence. He previously worked for Bumbling Amateurs (Inc) and tired of their incompetence; he then found a managerial job with Well Run Company (Partners), where he is General Manager. He feels himself a proper businessman, hard-nosed and hard-edged. He enjoys reading about China scams, to which he has never to his knowledge been suckered. He shakes your hand with vigorous pressure. He is proud of their downtown office. It's right next to a hip little restaurant that he has featured on his Instagram account (for he has a variety of interests). He takes you to the restaurant, because he likes to use his expense account, and because he wants to get a 360 degree view of you.

"Hey, Mike we dig your core competencies and we think we could be in alignment," he says. "Our company is really gaining traction and we're getting great synergy from our clients. We like the sample you sent: that data has got great granularity, no low-hanging fruit there! But we're still an early-stage company and we want to get all our ducks in a row before taking anyone on - what kind of ballpark figure were you thinking of? We got to make sure we right size our outgoings."

He meant that the company was still new and didn't want to pay me too much.

BT 201508 02 Last Word OldBusinessmanThe professional
Quality employees in China, like in any other country, are recognizable in that they say what they mean and do what they say they will. They remember that interviews are two-way processes, and their company must seek to impress you as a suitable employer as much as you must impress them as a suitable employee. They know that interviews are a hassle, and give you the opportunity to present your case - which means talking about what you have done and how you did it, not waffling on about random hypotheticals ("What would you do if...?")

I can clearly recall two such interviews. One went through every post I had listed on my CV, and discussed each with rigour - asking what I did, how I did it, what I liked about it, what I disliked, why I left, and so on. There was no hiding place for flannel. I appreciated this forensic approach, and it gave me confidence that this was a good company. I have happily worked with them for over six years now. The other interview went like a good conversation (always a good sign) where we discussed our mutual interests and various backgrounds. Here I felt was someone with no jargon, no sales patter, and who knew what they were talking about. This company too was one of the best I ever worked for.


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