Interviews in Chinese and the Chinese Resume

I have been applying for internships in China for the last few months and have gone through several interviews, both all in Chinese and part English part Chinese. I thought I could share my interview experiences with you all. I am by no means an expert on interviewing in Chinese, but I thought we could all benefit from a discussion about what to expect in these interviews. Some background, I have been interviewing at marketing agencies so if you are looking for another position it will likely have some differences in interview style.

Like interviews even in English speaking countries, the obvious first part of the interview is a 个人介绍 personal intro, I suggest getting this part down, not only for interviews but just in general. Think of it as a speed dating pitch that tells someone all the important details about yourself. I realize this is probably obvious, but getting your intro down is the first step in not just an interview but also in striking up a conversation with new Chinese friends. You should practice until you can call it up on a whim, a good list of facts about yourself and maybe some interesting stories should be at the top of your repertoire.

Specifically for interviews, if your Chinese still isn’t at a completely fluent level, I suggest looking up lists of interview questions and answering them in Chinese, write out notes for yourself (make sure it isn’t a complete script, as most people can tell when you have rehearsed too much), and get one of your Chinese friends/tutors/teachers to look at your notes and correct them. If you have the chance do some mock interviews and try to think of many different scenarios. Preparing for an interview in another language will require much more practice than in English, obviously.

It depends on the job you are applying for, but if you want to try to find a job in China, then you will probably want to have a Chinese resume. Now the advice I have gotten on this might not be applicable to everyone, but what I have gathered is that some key differences in a Chinese resume versus an English one are:

  1. Having a part of your resume that functions somewhat like a cover letter, a portion where you write about your interests and let the person that will be interviewing you know a bit more about you, and not necessarily all professional information. The way this was explained to me was that Chinese companies don’t do as many interviews as American ones, so they want to know a little bit about you, however if you have any different thoughts on the subject please let me know!
  2.  Another thing that has been going away somewhat, but that I still put on my Chinese resume is a photo of yourself. Usually a small photo in the top corner of your resume is all that is required.
  3. While in America, younger people usually try to keep their resumes to one page, this rule doesn’t usually apply to Chinese resumes, just go ahead and fill it up with all the information you find relevant. My resume is about a page and a half, with the last half page being my 个人介绍. I realize some of you more experienced people have English resumes upwards of 3 or more pages, so this tip really only applies to people coming out of college with little on the job experience.

So if any of you have had experiences with interviews in Chinese, questions for me, or have comments on what I have written, please let me know and I can add it. Good luck everyone!

Goodbye Mr. Loser 夏洛特烦恼

Last week with my college Chinese Language Club we got to watch 夏洛特烦恼 so I thought I would share my thoughts about this… unusual film. It came some time ago and was a big hit in China, but I didn’t get the chance to see it until recently, but it was definitely some good Chinese practice!

So to sum up, this film is largely a comedy with a few gut-wrenching cry like a baby moments. It is about a man named 夏洛 who is unhappy with his life, so he gets to go back in time and live it all over again. It had me on belly laughing through most of the movie with the over the top acting and dramatization of some of the parts of this film, definitely not a serious movie, although you may find it has a serious message by the end of it.

As far as the Chinese that was spoken in the movie, most of it isn’t too hard, mostly everyday conversation words although a few of the actor’s accents were much thicker than what I am used to. If your Chinese is good enough to hold a conversation with someone for more than five minutes, you will most likely be able to understand large portions of this movie without English subtitles.

However,  I think it is definitely worth watching, you can find it with both Chinese and English subtitles (as most Chinese movies can be found) which means that you beginners can still watch, enjoy, and get some practice out of it. Remember to actively practice as you watch, stop often to look up words you don’t know, and maybe consider watching it twice, once for enjoyment and to understand plot, and another for pure learning. This is generally a good habit to get into with everything you watch, but I do understand that it can be tedious. If any of you end up watching it I would like your views on why they chose the English name for the movie versus the meaning of the Chinese one, let me know in the comments.

The Classroom Dilemma

Whew… it has been a long few weeks, glad it has finally calmed down enough where I can get back to writing posts for you lot. It’s been hard to keep up my Chinese practice once life gets hectic, but we all do the best we can, right? Well I met with my Chinese tutor this week and she brought up a point that I think many of us can relate to, the classroom dilemma.

I had noticed this in passing during my years of studying Chinese, and really only noticed it during my personal conversation daydreams, why aren’t we taught more everyday vocabulary? If you have taken Chinese classes in a school setting then you will most likely be aware of the order in which your learning progresses. The first ‘level’ (or whatever your school calls the different Chinese classes) is meant to teach you pronunciation and basic grammar, getting a good introduction for yourself is usually the most important thing at this stage. After the first level, however, lessons become more complex, wanting to teach more complex grammar alongside more complex topics, such as the one child policy or our views on pollution in China. This is all well and good, and it teaches some of the harder grammar, but I have found that while using this method increases understanding of the language, many of us, after going through ‘school’ Chinese, find we still have difficulties in making everyday conversation, sure, we now know the grammar we need to use, but lack the vocabulary.

Several Chinese students I have talked with have expressed how poor their English vocabulary is, for most Chinese people, they begin learning English very early on, but after having studied for 5+ years, still find themselves unable to communicate effectively with us 老外 (foreigners). Other attributing factors to this is level of interest and their teacher’s ability, but this lack of vocabulary seems to be the most widespread issue.

This holds true for many Western students of Chinese as well. I go to a Chinese restaurant and while I am able to discuss at some length the political situation in China, I am unable to say simple dishes and the like.

I bring up this vocabulary issue, not because I believe classes themselves should be changed, I feel that they do the best they can with the minimal amount of time given to them, but rather to stress the importance of going back and learning that beginning vocabulary.

Focusing on this ‘easy’ vocab, I feel is more important than some of the upper level stuff that you might want to learn about, this kind of conversation will come up a lot more than the economic crisis in Rwanda. This is probably an unnecessary reminder for most of you, but I feel it is a large problem in many learners of both Chinese and English.

For some of you who are more beginners in Chinese, my suggestion is to focus on grammar and pronunciation, vocab comes later, as a beginner you need to get your understanding of the language down, as well as learning the complete vocab for several topics you are interested in, so that you have something to talk about. As many more knowledgeable learners than I have told me, if you know how to talk about hiking, even if you hate hiking, for today, you LOVE hiking.

Chinese Idiom Mondays! #8

Hey all! 大家好!I know I haven’t posted in a while, been busy and whatnot, but I hope to be back to posting regularly. This week’s idiom is 班门弄斧 (bān mén nòng fǔ), which basically means to show one’s slight skill before an expert. The story behind the idiom, however, is to show off one’s skill with the ax before Lu Ban (鲁班), who I am assuming is pretty good with an ax? If anyone knows the full story feel free to post it in the comments.

I will be making sure to post a second post this week, but it will probably be on Saturday rather than the usual midweek, busy week. My Chinese Language Club at my college campus will be watching the movie 夏洛特烦恼 or Goodbye Mr. Loser, so I invite you all to go watch it and I will make a short post on my comments on the movie where you all can voice your own opinions.

Speaky Language Exchange App Review

Initial reaction to Speaky. Why am I on Tinder? Pretty sure I want to practice Chinese not find another girlfriend.

Seriously though, the app initially looks exactly like a dating app, you swipe left or right on people that also are looking for language learning partners, many of which aren’t actually speakers of the language you are trying to practice (although you can limit your settings to only native speakers). I feel like it could bring on people that you don’t want contacting you, but I haven’t had any trouble yet. After you get over that fact though and get into the meat of the app, you find that you don’t actually need to do the ‘Tinder’ style swiping, but rather, can go find people that speak Chinese that are currently on the app, which I more prefer and is more typical of these kinds of apps.

The actual interface of the messenger seems to be very typical, but I do like that I am able to block users easily. Another plus in my book is that Speaky seems to have a rather large data base of people that use it, some of these apps, especially early on, fall prey to the endless cycle of ‘ I can’t find anyone online so I’m not going to be online’. For a newer language exchange app that is competing with HelloTalk and the like, Speaky tends to have a good amount of people online that you can speak with, however, if you are learning Chinese, most of the people on Speaky seem to be Taiwanese, and therefore mostly use traditional characters..

I very much like that I am able to filter people that can contact me, although I find it a little odd that if I wanted to I could narrow it down to only 20 year old women… Again feels dating appish, but hey I suppose it makes them unique in the world of language exchange apps, as others that I have used have attempted to downplay this by having very small profile pictures, etc.. Also need to remember that this is a very new app, so I’m sure there will be changes and updates for improvement in the future.

Not a huge fan that there seems to be no ‘inhouse’ translator, as I find that very useful. However, the fact that you can access it from your computer, not just your phone is pretty neat. With the amount of time I spend on a computer, this fact alone could keep me coming back to the app, especially during class time! I mean… not during class, definitely not.

The app does offer a wide variety of languages available but I hypothesize that many of the languages aren’t yet in use by more than a few. All in all, this app seems like it could be a competitor given some time, although I do suggest downplaying the dating style format that it takes (I know I am harping but it surprised me!), as I feel it could scare some people off.

Chinese Idiom Mondays!#7

Today’s idiom, 好事多磨 (hǎo shì duō mó), means that the road to happiness is strewn with setbacks or no good things come without toil, so now that you know this, you can sound classy and arrogant to alllll of your Chinese friends, congrats! But really, this is a good idiom with a good lesson, especially for all of us Chinese language wannabes, gotta do that work to make them gains. So make sure you are all getting your daily learning in, check out my recommendations for other language learning sources if you are stymied at where to find some extra language practice.

Vocab Learning: Harry Potter!

I have been attempting to read the Chinese versions of Harry Potter for the last few months, and as such I thought it would be appropriate to share with all of you some Harry Potter vocabulary! Some of the translations, especially for names may be different depending on which translations you read, but things like broomsticks and wands should be the same. So if you’re a HP fan like I am, it is important to know how to discuss one of our favorite shows/books in Chinese.

The Trio!

Harry Potter – 哈利波特 Hālìbōtè

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Hermione Granger –  赫敏格兰杰Hèmǐngélánjié

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Ron Weasley – 罗恩韦斯莱 Luōēnwéisīlái

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Hogwarts Stuff

Hogwarts – 霍格罗茨 Huògéluócí

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Dumbledore – 邓布利多 Dèngbùlìduō

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Gryffindor – 格兰芬多 Gélánfēnduō

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Slytherin – 斯莱特林 Sīláitèlín

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Ravenclaw – 拉文克劳 Lāwénkèláo

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Hufflepuff – 赫奇帕奇 Hèqípàqí

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Magical Items

Magic – 魔法 Mófǎ

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Broomstick – 扫帚 Sàozhǒu

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Wand – 魔杖 Mózhàng

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Golden Snitch – 金色飞贼 Jīnsè fēizéi

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And as a bonus 神秘人 Shénmìrén, You Know Who。。。

Voldemort – 伏地魔 Fúdìmó

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