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Applying for a Job in Hong Kong
The job interview can be conducted in different ways, depending on the number of applicants, the type of position, and your future employer’s preference:
- Individual interview: This is the most common type, with one applicant being interviewed by one or more person(s).
- Group interview: In this case, several applicants have to answer interview questions one after the other or to participate in discussions on different topics. Future employers will try to assess your abilities in direct comparison to the other candidates.
- Skills test: Your employer uses a formalized test to assess the skills and abilities you have mentioned in your resume and/or which are required for your new job.
No matter in which manner your prospective employer conducts the interview, make sure to be on time. Be polite, friendly, and patient with everybody. Even if you act well-behaved around your future boss, rude behavior towards the office assistant may be considered a sign of bad character.
When you arrive for the interview, do not sit down before someone invites you to. Do not interrupt others during the interview, and try not to be too brash or aggressive. While aggressiveness can leave a positive, forceful impression in some other countries, it is a sign of bad manners in Hong Kong. Use specific, concrete examples to describe your abilities. Save questions until the end of the interview.
After the interview, you should try to follow up on the results. Call or email the company to find out if you have been selected for the position or for a second round of interviews. Do not contact them too soon or too often, though, as this is a sign of impatience and a distinct lack of courtesy.
Make sure that you look neat and tidy at your job interview. Your clothes should be simple and appropriate. Try to figure out what the general dress code of your prospective company, especially for the job position you apply for. Banks in Hong Kong, for instance, may have a different dress code than an event management agency. You cold phone an assistant in the HR department beforehand to confirm your appointment and use this opportunity to enquire after the dress code.
However, don’t dress up in too trendy or gaudy clothes. Women should go easy on the make-up and accessories while men should shave before the interview. When in doubt, always choose a more conservative and formal appearance. Businesspeople in Hong Kong tend to prefer a neat, understated look with a few well-chosen “status symbols”, like a luxury watch.
Even though English is widespread, especially in the business world, Cantonese is now the official language in Hong Kong. Make an effort to learn some Cantonese or to improve your language skills. English alone is not always sufficient to get by in the business world. Chinese culture and tradition also play an important role in Hong Kong. If you want to be really thorough, read up on Hong Kong culture, business etiquette or even attend a cross-cultural training class.
In the business world, an elegant appearance is a must. A black suit is an appropriate business outfit both for men and women. The introduction between new business partners is formal and usually accompanied by the exchange of business cards. When you have business cards for Hong Kong made, make sure they are printed in English on one side and in Chinese on the other.
You want your application to look perfect when you apply for a job in Hong Kong. Maybe you have already written quite a few resumes and consider yourself application-savvy. Or maybe you are still unsure of what your application for a job in Hong Kong should look like. You can find examples for applications in English and Chinese online, courtesy of the Hong Kong Labour Department.
Unfortunately, employment traps are not a rare case anymore. Employment scams in which people try to acquire your personal or financial information happen quite frequently. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Here’s a handy resource concerning common employment scams and how to avoid them.
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