'Overtime for free', 'late paycheques': Chinese firm under fire for asking job applicants unreasonable questions

A Shenzhen-based company is under fire over interview questions that largely asked if potential employees would be willing to work extra hours for no pay.

The hiring process of Haimingwei Science and Technology, an advanced electronics company, featured a questionnaire of 14 questions that leaked online and went viral.

Of the questions, many asked whether employees would accept working overtime for free, whether they would tolerate delays in their paycheques and if they would be willing to deal with work tasks during their free time.

Other questions included asking whether prospective employees would attend meetings and events during the evenings or weekends. It also asked if they would accept only having one-day weekends.

The company also asked if they would accept if managers hired own family members onto their team. One question asked how prospective employees would react if the company did not pay a housing allowance required under Chinese law.

An unnamed spokesman for the local government human resources bureau told China News Week, a mainland news outlet, that Haimingwei was aware of the questionnaire and had started an internal investigation into the matter.

“We heard that the company distributed this questionnaire recently,” the spokesman was quoted as saying. “We told them to rectify this problem because asking these types of questions are banned during job interviews.”

He said job applicants could file complaints to the labour authority if they encounter similar questions in the future.

However, a staffer from Haimingwei told the news portal “There is no standard answer. It is just a survey and it would not affect the applicant’s chances of getting hired.

“The company simply wants to know if the potential employee is willing to work overtime. This is just for keeping statistics.”


Most of these 14 questions violate Chinese labour laws, said Hu Xiaofeng, a lawyer from Beijing Mingdun Law Firm. “Also, other questions that do not break the law are still unreasonable,” he was quoted as saying.

The incident was a trending topic on Baidu, the mainland’s leading search engine, earlier this week. Another four million people have viewed stories about it on the short video app Douyin, China’s TikTok.

While many people online were upset by the questions, they were also not too surprised.

“Many other companies are also doing this, aren’t they?” wrote one person on Weibo.

“These things happen because our trade unions do not protect employees’ rights,” another user commented.

Although there are employment laws in China that focus on the protection of employees’ rights rather than employers’ interests, it’s common for companies to try to flout them.

Last month, a factory in southeastern Fujian province was exposed to have installed surveillance cameras in its staff toilets to monitor if workers were violating its non-smoking policy. The company denied it after the surveillance pictures went viral on mainland social media.

ALSO READ: ‘We’re in a helpless mood’: China’s youth haunted by weak job prospects

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.


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