job interview in germany

Ace Your Job Interview in Germany

For international job seekers, you may have some questions about the interview process in a foreign land. What customs and norms should you be aware of? How can you best prepare yourself, and make a great impression? As if a job interview in your home country isn’t stressful enough, the added dimension of a new culture and maybe even a new language can make for a real nerve-wracking experience. But Experteer has some advice for those who are looking for a job in Deutschland – our guide will help you to ace your job interview in Germany!

job interview in germany

The Basics

First things first, do you have your documents in order? The German resume is called a “Lebenslauf,” which translates to “the course of your life.” The Lebenslauf is extremely plain, in comparison to some of the colorful and creative resumes used in the United States. You’ll note that the Lebenslauf includes a personal photograph. In the US, this practice is not encouraged, since photos provide employers with information that may lead to discrimination. However, in Germany, a photo on a resume is practically required. If you’re applying in any other countries and unsure whether or not to include a headshot, use our guidelines.

Here we have a sample Lebenslauf. Make your name clear and bold at the top of the page, with relevant contact information listed below. Place a professional headshot at the top of the page as well. If you are a recent graduate, you may include your Education – “Ausbildung” in German. But for senior professionals and executives, you can simply follow the traditional reverse chronological order of your employment. If you have any special skills or awards, you may place them at the bottom, under “Skills and Interests.”

matthias lebenslauf v3

Germans also use a document called a “Zeugnis,” which is essentially a list of your duties and responsibilities from your current or most recent position. This document is compiled, or at least signed by your HR director or direct supervisor.

Make sure to be punctual, and aim to be about 15 minutes early. Though the Germans are stereotyped for their love of efficiency and punctuality, this practice will serve you well all over the world.

What Do I Wear?

Of course, recommended business attire depends on the industry and company for which you’re applying. For those applying at a start-up in the tech or informational studies industry, a t-shirt may suffice. But it’s best to err on the side of caution. For men, a collared shirt and dress pants are a safe bet, while women can wear tailored suitpants and a nice blouse, or a knee-length skirt with shoulders covered and closed-toed shoes. For more information, read our interview from style expert Julia Munder, on how to dress for professional success.

Prepare for These German Interview Questions

  • Erzählen Sie uns etwas über sich selbst!
  • Kann man sich auf Sie verlassen (Zuverlässigkeit, Pünktlichkeit)?
    • “Do others find you to be reliable? (reliability, punctuality)”
  • Worin liegen Ihre Stärken?
    • “What are your strengths?”
  • Worin liegen Ihre Schwächen?
    • “What are your weaknesses?”
  • Was war Ihr größter Misserfolg?
    • “What was your biggest mistake or failure?”
  • Was war die größte Herausforderung Ihres Lebens?
    • “What has been the greatest challenge in your life?”
  • Wie gehen Sie mit Niederlagen um?
    • “How do you handle failure?”
  • Welches war Ihr bisher größter Erfolg?
    • “What was your biggest success?”
  • Wie würden Ihre letzten Arbeitskollegen Sie beschreiben?
    • “How would your colleagues from your last position describe you as a co-worker?”
  • Wie gehen Sie mit schwierigen Kollegen um?
    • “How do you handle difficult colleagues?”
  • Was wissen Sie über unsere Firma?
    • “What do you know about our company?”
  • Warum wollen Sie in unserer Firma arbeiten?
    • “Why do you want to work for our company?”
  • Wieviel wollen Sie bei uns verdienen?
  • Haben Sie noch Fragen an uns / an unser Unternehmen?
    • “Do you have any more questions about us, or our company?”
  • Wo sehen Sie sich selbst in 5 Jahren?
    • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

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