1. Ask us how long we have lived in the area. Do not ask us where we are REALLY from. Do not ask us what our nationality is when you mean ethnicity. Aside from EEO issues in the US, these questions show that you have already put us in a box as "other" and we are tired of hearing it. Also, for Asian orphans, this can be a painful question. Some do not know. One woman I met was abandoned in Saigon as a toddler speaking Chinese in 1968.
2. Don't ask if we are related to Dr. Chang, Prof. Chang or violinist Sarah Chang.
Doctor, professor, and musician are an Asian parent's dream. Olympic figure skater or high earning attorney is also acceptable. This question reminds us that our parents think the other three are better, and being an IT Director running a 24x7 10,000sq ft data center equates to being a "computer guy." It doesn't matter that the IT Director makes more money than the doctor or the professor.
If you need to ask, I am not related to Jake Shimabukuro (http://jakeshimabukuro.com). Damn musicians.
3. Kids. Our #1 issue is how the job impacts our kids' education. Regardless of salary, the job location must allow our kids to attend a school providing a SUPERIOR education. Imagine having your work location limit your kids' education to a UC Berkeley feeder school while your cousin's company was next to a Stanford University feeder school? Most of us have a little Amy Chua (http://amychua.com) Dragon Mom in us. I only backed off after my daughter was in tears and destroyed her PSAT score sheet because she only scored in the 98th percentile. I guess I can live with UC Berkeley. There are many non-Asian Dragon Moms and Dads, but we are overrepresented in this demographic.
4. We vote with our feet. If there is something we dislike about the work environment, we are less likely to complain and more likely just to move on. There are GIANT exceptions to this point, but it is a good 9/10th rule. This is a great opportunity for finding passive candidates. How do you know if Asians hate their work? Ask, and if they answer "It is okay" it means "This place is hell on earth. Is the new job you are talking about commuting distance to an Ivy League feeder school?"
5. Take us to lunch at a Thai restaurant. Why Thai? It accommodates vegetarians and there are fewer Thais to judge the food. Except for you extreme foodies, most Japanese or Chinese restaurants which you think are great, really aren't. Offer to take us to Benihana or P.F. Chang's and our lunch schedules will dry up for the next two years. Have we ever offered to take you to Howard Johnson's for a great Salisbury Steak?
None of us are related to P.F. Chang. Bill was kind enought to point out that PF Chang's was founded by Phillip Chiang along with Paul Flemming. So there are Asian-Americans related to the Chiangs.
About the Author: Bert Shimabukuro is an HR professional with expertise in talent acquisition, employee relations, collective bargaining, electronic monitoring in the workplace, and International HR. He holds a Master of Arts in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Hawaii. He has been an Asian-American his entire life, and suspects that he speaks for people of Asian descent in Canada and the UK. If they disagree with him, they should not leave comments, but instead write their own blogs. He is open to answering questions about the culture context of this blog to readers outside of North America. He recommends that if American or Canadian readers have questions, they spend their next vacation in Southern California.