Congratulations! You have nailed a job interview in Germany! While the job of your CV and cover letter is to get you that job interview invitation, it is the actual job interview in which you need to secure the job offer.
In my professional career, I have held over 50 job interviews as a hiring manager, so in this guide, I will share my insights on how to prepare for and succeed in a job interview in Germany.
How Do You Introduce Yourself In A German Interview?
In Germany, you should introduce yourself with your first and last name to the receptionist and interviewer. If you have several first and last names, choose the ones you want to be called by. If it is a physical interview, be prepared to give a firm handshake and hold eye contact. If the interview is digital, look right into the camera; ideally, you don’t see yourself on the screen so that your interview partner gets your full attention.
Ensure that you know whether the company culture follows a formal or informal way of addressing each other, as there are big differences between companies in Germany. If it is informal, you can call your interviewer by the first name and use ‘du’. If the company is rather traditional and formal, be sure only to use the interviewer’s last name and ‘Sie’.
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Tips For A Job Interview In Germany
Here are our top 9 tips for your job interview in Germany.
1. Prepare for the job interview
Preparation is everything! Having done your homework is the bread and butter for your job interview in Germany. To prepare for a job interview in Germany, you should research the following topics:
- History of the company: Know where the company is coming from and what its goal is. Even better, know their mission and vision, and about the founder of the company.
- Culture of the company: Most companies have core values, which form the cornerstones of the company culture. Find out what they are and how you identify with them.
- Your interview partners: When getting the invitation to the interview, you should know who will interview you. If your interview partner(s) is not mentioned, ask! Use Google and LinkedIn to find out more about this person. You want to know who you will be talking to and use what you have learned to build a connection.
- Social Media of the company: Stalk the companies homepage and social media channels, especially their YouTube channel, if they have one, to get a feeling of the company.
- Dress Code of the company: Try to get an idea of what the appropriate dress code for the company is. If you can’t find any information, don’t be shy and call the company and ask. This might be your first way to impress.
2. Be on time
It is absolutely crucial that you show up on time for your interview. In Germany, on time means 10-15 minutes earlier. Should you, for whatever reason, not manage to be on time, you need to call the company to let them know. Apologize, explain what makes you run late and give a realistic estimate of when you will arrive.
3. Dress appropriately
If you have done your research correctly, you will know the company’s dress code. For the interview, dress one level more professionally than the general dress code. Your attire should express these three criteria:
- You are a well-groomed professional
- You understand the company culture and are a great fit
- You are authentic and confident
4. Bring your CV and other documents
Bring a professional-looking folder with your CV and other relevant documents for your job application. You may not need them, but being overprepared is better than being underprepared in a job interview. Also, bring paper and a pen to take notes.
5. Be confident
From the moment you enter the company building to the moment you leave, be confident, polite, and authentic. You need to show the company what you bring to the table, not just with your words but also with your body language and tone of voice.
6. Ask questions
Be sure to have questions prepared for the end of the interview and during your conversation. Remember, an interview serves the purpose for a company to get to know you better and for you to get the company better. Your questions should give you answers that help you decide whether you want the role at the company.
Furthermore, questions from your side are a great way to show your interest, that you are prepared and that you can engage in a conversation. However, be sure never to interrupt the interviewer, instead wait for the right moment to ask your questions.
7. Know your worth
You need to know what you want to earn, for that you should know the average salary for your position or job role in the city you are applying for. You can, for example, use this salary calculator from Indeed. When asked for your salary expectations, you need to be able to give one straight answer. Some people recommend giving a salary range, whereas I am a fan of a fixed no-bullshit number. It is another way to portray confidence.
If you are not being asked about your salary but you feel it fits the interview, and it is vital for you to know at that stage of the interview process, simply ask the interviewer what you can expect as a salary.
8. Discuss next steps
Always be sure to discuss the next steps with your interviewer. Commonly, the job interview process in Germany can include
- a second or third interview
- trial work
- exercises for you to complete
before a final job offer is presented to you by the company. If you are applying for a technical position, technical interviews are also quite common.
9. Follow up after the interview
You want to make a lasting impression over other interviewees, so it is important that you follow up after your interview with an email, thanking your interview partner for your time or giving feedback, depending on how the interview went.
Watch a summary of our tips in this fantastic video on how to conduct a successful job interview in Germany:
Examples of German Interview Questions
A job interview is always designed to get to know you as an individual. In Germany, work and private life are mostly kept separate, yet you might still get asked questions that don’t directly relate to work, as the interviewer wants to know four key aspects about you:
- Do you have the necessary role-specific skills?
- Do you fit in the company culture?
- Do you have smarts (are you a problem solver?)
- Do you have drive?
Every company has its own interview style, but here are some typical interview questions you can get asked in Germany:
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What were you hired to do in your most recent position?
- How would your best friend describe you?
- How are you different from your siblings?
- What is your greatest success?
- What is your greatest failure?
- What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
- What are you the proudest of?
- What do you expect from your role in our company?
German Or English – German Interview For English Speakers
As a foreigner in Germany, you rightfully ask yourself in which language the job interview will be held. The answer highly depends on the company and job role you have applied for.
The interview will most likely take place in the language, which you will use on the job; however, you should still brush up the German you know and be prepared to speak some German, even if it is just small talk. A willingness to speak German, even if you are not fluent, shows that you are eager to learn, that you are able to adapt to your conversation partner, and you don’t shy away from not being perfect.
Jen, my wife from Guatemala, has had job interviews in Spanish only, in English only, and in Denglisch (German with English fillers, whenever she didn’t know the words in German). 😅
The job interview is the decisive part of a successful job application, and we have outlined important tips that will guide you through a successful interview. At the end of the day, you are the one that needs to convince your interviewer by being authentic, competent, and curious.
Good luck on nailing that job interview in Germany!