Interviews are great, right?
Who doesn’t love the sleepless night before, the panic over what to wear in the morning, the sweating in the waiting room while thumbing through your resume looking for errors?
Alright, interviews aren’t that great. But they’re an unavoidable part of landing a job.
It’s bad enough dealing with the prospect of going into a job interview where everybody involved is speaking your native language. Going into an interview where you have to exercise your Mandarin chops is even scarier.
But it doesn’t have to be!
We put together a guide to introducing yourself in Mandarin for interviews. With a little help, you can prove just how talented you really are at this beautiful and challenging language.
Luckily, introductions for interviews aren’t all that complicated in Chinese. At least, not much more than they would be in English. So it won’t be hard for you to make a great first impression and set yourself apart from the rest of the candidates.
Ready to give it a shot?
If the situation arises where you’ve landed an interview (congrats!) and you’re going to be meeting up with a Chinese speaker or someone who wants a bit of live-action proof of your skills, we’ve got your back with this guide to killing that interview in Mandarin.
1. Perfect Your Listening Skills
An interview in English requires listening skills as well, of course. But if your Chinese isn’t up to par, it may be difficult to keep up with the questions that your Mandarin-speaking interviewer will ask you.
One great way to improve your listening skills is to watch videos in Chinese. By watching videos related to interviews and other office conversations, you’ll get a feel for how phrases and words are spoken in a formal setting. It’s all about tones and speed.
2. Greet Your Interviewer
Greeting your interviewer is actually one of the easiest parts of a Mandarin-language interview. Even a beginner can master these simple words and phrases!
A note on body language: Don’t be the Westerner who goes into an interaction with a Mandarin speaker with a full-on bow. A gentle (not aggressively firm) handshake with a nod and a smile will do just fine.
All of these simple and concise phrases will work well when walking into an interview.
你好 (nǐ hǎo) — Hello.
早上好 (zǎo shàng hǎo) — Good morning.
下午好 (xià wǔ hǎo) — Good afternoon.
你好吗? (nǐ hǎo ma?) — How are you?
The less-formal way to say 你好吗? that beginner Mandarin students typically learn is 你好不好? (nǐ hǎo bù hǎo?) — You good?
But since this is a job interview, you want to use more formal particles. Using the particle 吗 (ma) is recommended at the end of questions for such a formal circumstance.
After greeting your interviewers, it would be wise to follow up with a polite expression of appreciation for the interview opportunity.
感谢您的时间 (gǎn xiè nín de shí jiān) — Thank you for your time.
我很感谢这次面试 (wǒ hěn gǎn xiè zhè cì miàn shì) — I am very grateful for this interview.
3. Introduce Yourself
Introducing yourself is as easy as pie. Any of the following phrases will work just fine. Just end the phrase with your first or full name, whichever you feel is more appropriate.
我的名字是... (wǒ de míng zì shì…) — My name is…
我是… (wǒ shì…) — I am…
我叫… (wǒ jiào) — I am…
Example: 我的名字是艾米莉 (wǒ de míng zì shì ài mǐ lì) — My name is Emily.
4. Explain Your Work Experience and Education
To start, it would be wise to know the words for job titles you’ve held in the past (as well as the title you’ll hold if your interview is successful). Here are just a few examples:
队长 (duì zhǎng) — team leader
经理 (jīng lǐ) — manager
管理员 (guǎn lǐ yuán) — administrator
管理人 (guǎn lǐ rén) — executive
主管 (zhǔ guǎn) — director
When going into a job interview, you’ll need to provide a few key pieces of information. These include where you went to school, when you graduated, your major, whom you’ve worked for and for how long. Not that different from an American job interview, right?
我毕业于… (wǒ bì yè yú…) — I graduated from…
我是…的学生 (wǒ shì … de xué shēng) — I am a student at…
我于…年毕业 (wǒ yú… nián bì yè) — I graduated in… [year]
我计划在…年毕业 (wǒ jì huà zài… nián bì yè) — I plan to graduate in… [year]
我的专业是… (wǒ de zhuān yè shì…) — My major is…
我曾在…工作了…年 (wǒ céng zài… gōng zuò le … nián) — I worked for… [business name] for… [number] years.
Don’t miss an opportunity to brag on yourself, when possible!
我的技能包括… (wǒ de jì néng bāo kuò…) — My skills include…
曾获得过… (céng huò dé guò…) — I have received awards including…
我是亞利桑那州立大學的学生 (wǒ shì yǎ lì sāng nà zhōu lì dà xué de xué shēng) — I am a student at Arizona State University.
我的专业是经济学 (wǒ de zhuān yè shì jīng jì xué) — My major is economics.
我于二零一七年毕业 (wǒ yú èr líng yī qī nián bì yè) — I graduated in 2017. (Keep in mind that in most situations, years are read off by the individual numbers followed by 年).
我曾在谷歌工作了二年 (wǒ céng zài Gǔgē gōng zuò le er nián) — I worked for Google for two years.
5. Discuss Logistics
You may also have a couple questions to ask your interviewers. Here’s how to hit the basics:
我什么时候开始? (wǒ shén me shí hòu kāi shǐ?) — When do I start?
我在哪里工作? (wǒ zài nǎ lǐ gōng zuò?) — Where will I be working?
6. Close an Interview the Formal Way
When leaving, be sure to thank your interviewers again for the opportunity. If possible, exchange business cards and provide them with a copy of your resume, CV, cover letter, letters of recommendation and anything else of interest.
If you have business cards, it would be a perk if they’re also in 汉字 (hàn zì) — Chinese.
Don’t rush into asking about pay. That’s considered rude in most places, not just China. You should also avoid shaking your interviewer’s hand too hard. A firm handshake is respectable in the West, but a loose handshake is a sign of humility in China.
A lot of the Chinese translations of typical introductions and greetings in English are very simple, proving that even an intermediate learner can go into a Mandarin-language interview and do well.
Remember that learning how to say the right words in the right tones isn’t the only thing one must do in a Chinese-language job interview. Learning appropriate body language and how to listen at conversational speeds is also vital.
While we probably can’t ease your mind about your future interview, we hope that this guide to introducing yourself and your skills in Mandarin has at least made you feel a bit confident.
相信自己! (Xiāng xìn zì jǐ!) — Believe in yourself!