Hong Kong Job Interview Tips

Working abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, it needs more than just the obvious Hong Kong CV and Hong Kong cover letter writing and translation – it requires methodical preparation. You will face issues that almost certainly did not even cross your mind when you become interested in work in Hong Kong.

Do not get the wrong idea about the impact the Hong Kong job interview can have on the result of your adventure! For example, you will experience the different immigration rules and habits, job application procedures, the selection trends and the management culture. So, be prepared to take the Hong Kong as it is with all of its difficulties, contradictions and challenges.

Most visits to Hong Kong are trouble-free but you should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against Western interests and civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners like restaurants, hotels, clubs and shopping areas. In recent years, the Hong Kong authorities have carried out a number of investigations and operations against terrorist networks.
You should exercise a high level of security awareness and monitor local news broadcasts and consular messages. Ensure that your travel documents and visas are current and valid and secured in a safe place. Carry a photocopy of your travel documents in lieu of the originals. Maintain a low profile, vary times and routes of travel, and exercise caution while driving. Making local contacts quickly and seeking support from other expatriates will greatly increase your comfort and safety.

Prepare for more than one job interview in Hong Kong. Four or more interviews are common.

Do not be surprised if the prospective employer seems to know a great deal about you. Often Hong Kong employers research job applicants before the interview.

The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese (Mandarin, also known as Putonghua) and English. Practice your few-sentences "speech" about who you are and what you do. Do not whine. Do not talk about being jobless. Do not criticize your former employers, bosses or colleagues. Be positive.

You cannot over-prepare for an interview. Find out information about the company you want to work for. Check the company's Web site and annual report. Research the prospective host country’s cultural and business practices so you can make a good first impression.

Before interview get the names (in English) of those you will meet or/and speak to. Learn their full names with correct pronunciation and how address them in person. Everybody expect that foreigners have their surname translated into Chinese. If possible, ask for details of the interview structure, i.e., who will be interviewing you, for how long and how many other candidates are there?

Appropriate dress is considered a sign of respect in Hong Kong. Therefore, appearance – especially at an interview – is extremely important. So, dress and present yourself well

Punctuality is expected and respected, so arrive 10 minutes before a job interview. Turn off your cell phone. Show your friendly face. Look less serious and more cheerful. Smile lightly. Sustain a relaxed manner, maintain eye contact while talking with someone and restrict the use of gestures. Do not sit until invited.

A third person should make introductions. It is best to wait for this rather than introducing yourself. Higher-ranking persons are introduced before those of lower rank. An older person comes before a younger person, and a woman before a man. Introductions usually consist of a formal title and family name. Titles are important. Use professional or academic titles or Mr., Mrs., Miss with the last name when addressing someone. It is polite to inquire about a person's health or activities upon greeting.

It is advisable to wait for a woman to offer her hand to a man. Hong Kong Chinese handshakes may be less firm than a Western handshake.

Hong Kong Chinese may stand close when talking; however, they are reserved and uncomfortable with body contact. Do not hug or pat people on the back. If you are acquainted with anyone connected with the company, mention it.

Remember, how you dress is the one of the most important parts of not being hired. So, check the Hong Kong dress code

Upon introduction, present your business card with both hands and with the Chinese side up (a dual language business card is helpful - English on one side, Chinese on the other). Make sure that the Chinese side uses "classical" characters, the written form of Chinese used in Hong Kong and not "simplified" characters, which are used in the People's Republic of China. Be sure to look at a business card upon receiving it. Do not write on a business card in front of the person who gave it to you.

Do not hesitate to ask for clarification of a statement or question if you do not understand.

When invited, sit forward and do not slouch or lay back in the chair. Keep your hands still and avoid fidgeting. Never point with your index finger. This is used only for animals. Point with your hand open.

The job interview is a time of mutual assessment. Usually a short, perhaps 10 to 15 minutes, introduction interview is held. The purpose of it is to give you some idea about the company and its operation, and to give your prospective employer a chance to get a first impression.

It is common for interviewers to ask candidates to introduce themselves briefly at the start of the interview. The best responses to this will include a brief summary of experiences relevant to the position being interviewed for.

Interviews in Hong Kong can be conducted either individually or as part of a group.

  • An individual interview is more common, with the candidate meeting with one or more interviewers.
  • At group interviews, several candidates meeting together, may be ask to discuss a topic or to answer questions one at a time.

Questions in either type of interview may not be limited to the position. Some interviewers, for example, may ask about current events.

In recent years it become increasingly popular to join the LinkedIn or Facebook social networking websites for professionals, where you may search for jobs and have your keyword-optimized, rich content profile with current CV/resume. Hiring managers use them more frequently to consult your profile and supplement or check against the CV/resume you send along. If you do not have an account, create one and include your social media link(s) on your CV/resume.
However, you should manage your online presence. Eliminate any photos and statements that could reflect poorly on you. From an employer’s point of view, someone who emphasizes partying on a social networking site is not focused on jobs and those who post complaints about work or colleagues are less desirable candidates. Online CV/resume should not include sensitive information as they could show lack of respect for confidentiality and discretion.

Do not speak loudly. Talk clearly, slowly and with simple sentence structures, effectively demonstrating your knowledge of the industry and/or the company. Do not interrupt the interviewer and criticize former employers.

When listening to a native talking in foreign language, it is very important to nod showing that you are listen and understand the speaker.

Make sure you know the technical terms of your industry. Remember that the same keywords you used in your CV or resume and cover letter will be the foundation for your job interviews. During an interview, you must be able to talk about them in strong and powerful statements that highlight your successes, contributions and achievements. Repeating your main points indicates you are telling the truth.

It is an advantage to have a degree from a well-ranked university, as this is highly regarded in Hong Kong. So, during an interview carefully mention it, particularly if you have an advanced degree. Be aware that in most cases the Hong Kong government insists on degrees from accredited universities.

You need to show that you are flexible, culturally sensitive, able to adapt to new circumstances and cultures, and that you possess some perseverance and motivation (for the job, not the location!).

Remember that documents like the originals and copies of school and university diplomas, qualifications, certificates, passport, written references (they are usually verified, so notify your referees in advance), application forms (where appropriate) and marriage certificate may be requested at an interview. An extra CV can be handy too. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression!

At the Hong Kong job interview do not volunteer information that the interviewer does not ask for

Prepare for all kinds of questions about yourself, your skills, qualifications, experience and hobbies, and answer them as fully as you can in an organized manner, avoiding yes and no answers. Especially prepare to answer questions about yourself:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you think is your greatest weakness?
  • Tell me something about yourself.
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What benefit will the company have if it selects you rather than other candidates?
  • Why Hong Kong and how long are you planning to be around?

Discrimination laws are not as stringent in Hong Kong as they are elsewhere in the world. It is not uncommon for employers in Hong Kong to ask for specifics like gender, age, your photo, ID card number, expected salary etc. Many multinational corporations operating in the region adopts the same type of hiring practices.

Expect Hong Kong Chinese to ask personal questions. You do not have to answer personal questions, but consider in advance how you are going to tackle them. If you feel uncomfortable with a question asked, simply smile and say, "In my country, that would be a strange question."

Your questions provide final opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer(s). Ask questions about the organizational structure, your prospective role in it, the nature of the job, the lines of authority, your future responsibilities and career potential, but avoid raising the issue of salary or benefits early in the process. Do not forget to ask, “When can I expect to hear from you?” (if that has not been discussed).

Before leaving, thank everyone present for interview and give each one a firm handshake.

After the interview, do not forget to write thank you letters to all interviewers and subsequently follow-up by letter, email or phone call. Employers regard this as an indication of your strong interest in the position.

Write down information and issues that you discussed at the interview for future reference.

Following the interview to inquire as to the outcome, politely request information on the status of your application if the potential employer does not respond for a week or two. Feel free to send them email or call.

If your interview is unsuccessful, do not be afraid to call and ask for feedback. This can be invaluable advice to enhance your next round of applications.

Other Hong Kong Job Interview Info

When you receive an invitation to the job interview, take a quick look at job interview tips and other job search skills pages. Check the job interview do & don't.  Find out why people are not hired for available jobs.

We hope that your Hong Kong job interview has been successful. So, follow up the job interview with a thank you letter. Employers regard this as an indication of your strong interest in the position.

In addition, on the international infojob search visawork permitcover letterCV & resumejob interview and dress code pages you will find many useful tips for overseas job seekers.

Good luck with your Hong Kong job interview.