This article highlights the reasons why it’s useless to do so.
Whereas being able to speak Mandarin if you’re white can easily get you a date (e.g., “Ooooh, how pang o! Ni hui jiang zhong wen ma!”), it may not be good enough to get you a deal.
If you are looking for a full-time position in Hong Kong handling China matters, you may be asked to read Chinese newspapers and translate analyst reports to Chinese, and it’s almost next to impossible if you studied Mandarin after 21 years old.
Yes, you can still speak of course. But never as good as the native speakers.
So yes, do try. But don’t be too disheartened about the “Can you speak Mandarin?” question. Instead, be honest and focus on what you can do, and do very well.
Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. For everyone else, speaking Mandarin is a plus.
So let’s treat it that way. 🙂