5 Recruitment Tips for Entrepreneurs in China

Last week I interviewed entrepreneur German Torrado from Orienta 7. German has always believed human resources management is key to business success. Arrakis, the internet service provider he founded in Spain in 1995 (later sold to British Telecom) won twice Human Resources Awards.
German has lived in China for the last four years and he feels human resources management is something entrepreneurs here should consider seriously. One of the topics we talked about was “recruitment”, and I’ve tried to translate his thoughts into some tips that will help other entrepreneurs in China.

1.Do not base your recruitment decisions on intuition
“If you are an exceptionally gifted person and you know how to read non verbal communication intuition may work for you… but that is not the case most of the times” German asserts.
And just to build on German’s statement I will quote from About.com: Human Resources: “One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. And if you take into consideration that multicultural differences in body language, facial expression, use of space, and especially, gestures, are enormous and enormously open to misinterpretation”
… So you may be heading for disaster if you just follow your intuition.

2. Working experience is only a small part of the recruitment decision. You want to find people who know how to handle new situations, not just react with learnt recipes.

“I have a limited interest in people past experience. Although experience and technical knowledge is important, I want people who will know how to react to the unknown. Besides, answering where they worked and why they left their previous jobs is the speech they all have practiced at home”

3. Invest on the tools that will allow you to identify the right candidates

“I’m always surprised that after investing a lot of money in their businesses entrepreneurs do not invest in the tools that will allow them to identify the right people”

“I want people to whom I can tell “this is the objective, these are the resources”. In order to identify who is out there that can have this type of initiative I take candidates through three types of test: a personality test (based on the Enneagram), a creativity test and a technical test related to the position to be filled. That allows me to do group interviews (which speeds greatly the search process) and identify the people with the right profile”

4. Define what personality profile is required for each position.
“For each position in my organization, we have defined what personality type is required. For example, I would like the assistant director to be very loyal, somebody who pays attention to detail and not too emotional. On the other hand, I would expect the sales person to be more extrovert …Thanks to the personality test we are able to identify whom those people are.”

5. Explain upfront what the company vision is and what it can offer them…you want them to know where they are getting into and ensure it also fits their expectation.

“At the beginning of our interviews I tell the candidates all about the company. I explain what the job description is, how far they can take it (freedoms), how we work as a team and what my management style is. If the person does not have too much working experience I also explain the differences between MNC and SME carrier paths”

Rotations are high in this market, so you may want to try to minimize it by clearly presenting your proposition.

So, is your experience out there different? What would your tips be?


  1. Definitely Rotations is a handicap in China’s labor market.

    We invest time and money on training team and when they begin to be productive they move to your competitor.

    Any tip how to loyal teams….. besides salary increases?

    Thank you,


  2. There are some great tips in here. The last two in particular fit our company’s hiring paradigm. We try to explain to prospective candidates a bit about our company values. When hiring an administrative assistant we talked about the qualities we were looking for. So often the character of a person is more important than their skill set. You can teach a person to use a spreadsheet or work a sewing machine, but you can’t teach them honesty and a work ethic quite so easily…