Hiring In China


RelocateYourself logo With expert input from Helene Sini, a RelocateYourself partner in China


If you are hiring in China, here are some tips to help you.


Employment Contracts

Chinese employment law requires a written employment contract with all full time employees. Chinese employment contracts must include the following information:

Basic information about the employer and the employee

  • Term (duration) of the employment contract

  • Description of the employee’s work

  • Place of work

  • Working hours

  • Rest and leave time

  • Wages

  • Social insurance

  • Applicable labor protections, conditions, and protection against occupational hazards

  • “other matters required by relevant laws and regulations”


Penalties for not having a written employment contract are huge. If you hire employees without a contract, you are subject to financial penalties (fines) and your business may be closed down. If you are an employee working in China without an employment contract of your own, both you and the company could be fined and foreigners can be kicked out of the country.


Finding good people

Westerners conducting interviews in China will find that they will have to get used to the kinds of questions they can ask that would be forbidden in the West. These questions may feel intrusive, but are necessary to understand what kind of an employee you are getting in a candidate.

In China, it is very important to check people’s experience and get referrals. Many people will promote their experience beyond what it is. Be sure to check all referrals and references and call the people they mention on their resume. Depending on the position, it’s a very good idea to have them complete a task for you during the interview, while they are on site, to demonstrate they can do what they say they can.

Try to understand from their resume where they are coming from geographically. The province they are from will affect the employee's tax rates and the employer's contribution rates to China’s social insurance system (known as the Five Insurances) and a housing fund. The Five Insurances are a pension fund, medical insurance, industrial injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance.

You can also use their resume to try to determine what they have done since they graduated and how stable their work experience is. They may have gone back home for several years after school and didn’t do anything during that time, then came to the big city to get a job.

Globig TipThere is a lot of turnover in China. You will find that people don’t necessarily stay in a company because of a good work situation with good pay, a supportive environment, or good benefits. The Chinese are very motivated by status and title and may leave for a higher position, even if it’s farther away and pays only a lttle bit more. Show people how you plan to grow and develop them within your company so they are more motivated to stay.  Working for a big company with a good title on their business card helps them maintain face.


It is very important to the candidate’s personal situation. Not only is it acceptable, but it’s recommended to ask questions about the prospect’s family. Many Chinese people come from far away to the big cities to get jobs and may have left family behind. Family bonds are very strong in China and come above all else. People may be called away to take care of parents or grandparents and their ties to family will be powerful enough to lead them to do so.

Ask if they are married and if they moved with their family or if they left family behind. If they came with their family, they are much more likely to remain in the city and be stable. If they left family behind (this could be their spouse and children or their parents, for instance), they pose a much greater risk of leaving to go back home to their family.  

Women over thirty who are unmarried and have no children often get a lot of pressure to return home to get married and have a child. You may be uncomfortable with this situation and may choose not to act on it, but it is something you can be aware of. Not all women in China will succumb to this pressure, but it is important to understand the culture and have all the information necessary to treat all applicant fairly.