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I recently (yesterday) interviewed a candidate originally from China, I would like some help in analyzing his answers. If he had been from the US I would have thought him terribly arrogant or at maybe even said he had delusions of grandeur regarding his abilities. I believe some of this maybe cultural or missing some of the nuances of the english language.

Here are some examples.

He indicated he was an expert in using an extensive list of software and also indicated that he could be come very good in using almost any software within just a couple of weeks.

He clearly had a high degree of confience in his abilities and skills. But the terms like expert indicate a very high level of ability or skill and mean you are a "go to" person in those fields. And his use of the term during the interivew rubbed my somewhat wrong.

I gave his the interview weakness question and got the "I don't think I have any weaknesses." Answer? Is this a cultural tendency not to admit weakness? In retrospect I now think I should have reworded it to remove the work weakness.

Any Help?

pmoriarty's picture

Having worked for both a PRC and a Taiwanese company, and having hired several people from both countries, I would not attribute the traits you describe to Chinese cultural differences.

juliahhavener's picture

Wow. Yet another unexpected benefit of this community. I don't have any insight to share with you, Pete, but I'm impressed by your asking instead of simply discarding the candidate.

rthibode's picture

Sorry, I have no insights about this, but thanks for raising the topic. I believe this would make a great topic for a podcast or ten.

ccleveland's picture

Pete,

Did he provide any examples of his expertise? How did his expertise help a previous employer?

I hired a U.S. citizen once for a short-term contract assignment who had very similar responses to similar questions. He was very good at what he did, he did know a lot and was able to pick up quickly what he didn't know.

However, he was arrogant and unpleasant to work with. And he had significant conflicts with other team members. In the end, as soon as his tasks were done, he was not asked to stay on for more work.

Like Julia, I applaud your efforts to see this from a different cultural perspective. I would suggest you take extra time to confirm his background before bringing into your group.

CC

rwwh's picture

I am not very experienced here, so forgive me if my thoughts are galactically(tm) stupid.

I have the feeling that even if this person is as good as he thinks he is, his arrogance will be very difficult to maintain in a team.

jprlopez's picture

hmmm... I've dealt with hiring "Chinese" employees both from the mainland and otherwise.

This strikes me as someone who either is a genius, has really bad communication skills, does not know himself or lying to himself.

With the off-chance he might be a genius...
was he able to give examples where he had to learn a new technology and become an expert in it immediately?
was he able to cite examples where his team had to rely on his "expertise" to get a project/task done?

btw, what's the position you are interviewing him for? If its a highly technical position that requires minimal interaction... you might get away with hiring him solely for his technical wizardry.

hope this helps

eagerApprentice's picture

I realize this is quite a bit late, so I do apologize for that - but I just joined today, so... :)

Anyway, I spent the last two years in Taiwan at a school with some of the most gifted, fastest learning students in the island, and they were almost all very humble about their abilities. In fact, the people who were not humble but instead forceful were usually talked about and/or disliked among others.

That said, there is a chance that this guy has never heard about the "weakness" question, and I can surely believe that in Chinese culture, they don't like to admit weaknesses to an interviewer during a job interview.

My guess is that this guy wants desperately to get a good job, preferably in the states, and said what he thought he could to get the job - he's just a bit uninformed... and possibly quite arrogant. :wink:

ashdenver's picture

Hmmm, I'm not Chinese but those answers are precisely what I would have said if there wasn't a job riding on it. Heh.

Yes, I'm arrogant but I'm also very deliberate and precise with my words. If I say I'm an expert, I agree that I'm a go-to person on that subject. If I say I can learn the software in a short time without assistance, count on it. (I've done it dozens of times.)

The only spot where your candidate and I would differ would be on the weakness question but only because I've been through the podcasts here. *chuckle*

When I was first faced with the question, pre-coaching or instruction, I honestly answered "Gee, I can't really think of any that would pertain to this job as you've described it." (I was much less self-aware 18 yrs ago.) I do, however, think that there may be a matter of honor in your candidate's answer. It may be seen as weak to admit weakness. If one is male and weak, one is worthless & useless and not well regarded in the workplace.

Being a high D myself, it may be that your candidate was also high D. We can definitely be seen as arrogant, I grant you that!

genecx's picture

[quote]He clearly had a high degree of confience in his abilities and skills. But the terms like expert indicate a very high level of ability or skill and mean you are a "go to" person in those fields. And his use of the term during the interivew rubbed my somewhat wrong. [/quote]

When I was an applications programmer working for a marketing research firm, half of the programmers in my group were Chinese nationals. We were asked to rate ourselves in about 10 or so key technical skills using a numerical rating 1-5 (5 being the best) We were also told that we could only have 2 5's at the most. Every single one of my Chinese counterparts rated themselves a 5 in every category.

I'm not saying...... but I'm just saying.

[quote]I gave his the interview weakness question and got the "I don't think I have any weaknesses." Answer? Is this a cultural tendency not to admit weakness? In retrospect I now think I should have reworded it to remove the work weakness. [/quote]

I usually ask what skill the candidate would most want to improve on. If he/she hesitates to answer, I give an example of what I would like to improve for myself. If he/she still doesn't give an answer, I do not hire that person.

Whenever I am looking to hire someone for my clinic, I remember the words of Herb Brooks - the late great coach of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team -
[b]"I'm not looking for the best players. I am looking for the right ones"[/b].

jhack's picture

There was a very interesting research project at Cornell which investigated how people rate themselves.

BLUF: Good people rate themselves so-so or OK because they have very high standards (which they don't meet). Mediocre people rate themselves highly because they have mediocre standards (which they meet).

I've seen this time and again.

Check out the research paper at:

http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf

John

mjpeterson's picture

Well the issue may go away by itself. The candidate has an existing H1-B Visa, but since my company has no experience with these, upper management is moving slowly on getting invovled with the H1-B visa program.