Business Etiquette - Interview Advice - Taiwan

This information is essential if you are planning an interview in Taiwan

Business etiquette in Taiwan is formal and they will expect you to always dress in a conservative manner. They don't expect you to know everything about their culture, but it does show them that you care and respect them if you adhere to their business etiquette.

Business etiquette in Taiwan: Greetings

The Taiwanese regard informal greetings with the first contact as rude. You should always address a person using his surname. This may be confusing, since they use the surname first, followed by the names. Let's use Lee Yang-Shu as an example. Lee is the family name and Yang-Shu the name. When they do business in Western countries they will place their surname last. Ask which one is the surname in order to make sure that you address the person in the correct manner. Clarify how you will address the person with your first contact because he may prefer a title such as Director.

The Taiwanese greet through a little bow or nod, but they sometimes shake hands with Western businessmen. They have a light handshake and wont always make full eye contact. Only become informal when you know the person well and never insist on using your given name during the first few contacts. Wait for an introduction.

Business etiquette in Taiwan: Meetings

You should always be on time. You'll get an idea of a person's position in the hierarchical structure by observing when he enters the room. The head of the business group will always enter the room first. Important guests are escorted to their seats, and the foremost guest will be seated opposite the head of the group.

It is custom to trade business cards at the start of the meeting. Accept the card with both hands and study it immediately. Keep it in front of you during the first meeting. Its considered disrespectful if you place it in your pocket without gazing at it first. Never toss your card across the table, it means you don't respect the person. Hand over the business card; face up, with your right hand.

Meetings always commence with polite conversation.

Business etiquette in Taiwan: Social Gatherings.

Always prepare a short speech in honor of your host. Try all the dishes first before you start eating. You may return the favor if your host serve you food. Never eat everything on your plate because your host will serve more food, since it is a sign that you are still hungry. If you are complimented, don't say thank you, but politely deny it. Never point with your index finger. The palm should face down when you signal to someone.

Business etiquette in Taiwan: Presents

It is custom to present your host with a gift at the first meeting or social gathering. The present should represent your town, business, region or country. Always wrap the gift, but avoid the colors of mourning, which are black and white. Comment that the gift is a small gesture of your gratitude and hand it over with both hands. The host will not open it in your presence. Gifts show that you plan to build a long relationship.

Avoid presenting the following gifts:

  • Handkerchiefs, umbrellas, white flowers, watches or clocks represent mourning.
  • Sharp objects represent the end of an association.

Business etiquette in Taiwan: Language

The Taiwanese try to learn a few English words to show their interest in you. You should return the compliment by learning a few Chinese words. Nee hao stands for hallo or good day; Nin hao is used to say hallo with respect; Shay shay means, 'I thank you', while Jai jian stands for goodbye. Speak in a moderate tone.