German job interview ethics

24 posts in this topic

Posted

Hello TT Leute,

In the last 8 months or so, I have had 3 interviews at 3 different companies. At the end of every interview, I thought to myself that there is no way the company wouldn't offer me a job, but each time ironically, I got the same 'leider mitteilen...' answer in the email.

I always had only one confusion, after I got the rejection email and that was related with my salary expectation. During the interview when the HR lady asked my salary expectation, i always gave them the range. Similarly when they asked about my current salary, I answered by giving them the range too stating that I am not supposed to disclose my exact current salary.

So my question is if this is the right way to approach the HR questions? I always thought that the company would offer me some room for negotiations, but it seems not the case here. I always got the straight negative answer in the form of a rejection email!

I have no doubts in my mind that the salary range i offered had always been quite realistic, though i kept the margin of around 8-10% p.a. (base) for negotiations. Similarly, 5-7% i have always added into my current salary when asked about my current salary question. I have never understood the point of them asking my current salary anyways.

Regarding the other non-HR related parts of the interview, I think i have always performed quite well and never got the impression as if I would not be their first choice.

So in nutshell, could someone please guide me the ethics of handling the German HR psyche because it seems I am probably doing something fundamentally wrong here and that too with the HR salary part. Or should I keep trying the way i am doing and wait for the company that truly deserves me!

Thanks.

-1

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Posted

Hello sbutt,

I remember being quite impressed by your Durchsetzungsvermögen (determination - for non-German readers) evident in posts on past topics of yours so it doesn't surprise me to read how you are going about analysing the results of your job interview experiences. However, like zwiebelfisch, my (albeit superficial) impression is that your salary negotiation tactics have probably not played a key role in the ultimate outcomes of those 3 interviews. Notwithstanding that 3 interviews are hardly a basis for a definitive assessment of your performance vis-á-vis the German HR psyche, I would be more inclined to assume that those companies had had one or more other applicants who, for one reason or another, matched their needs closer than you did. That may have been for any number of legitimate, or less worthy, reasons so, on the demise of such opportunities, I personally would never invest too much time on speculative postmortem analyses.

...salary...my question is if this is the right way to approach the HR questions?

Well, here's the advice I offered rodisi in 2011 when he was asking for tips on how a friend of his who was in need of a job could, or should, approach this type of negotiation. It was basically a summary of a tactical approach I'd developed over some of my past lives which had proved to be effective in my own case. It seemed to be quite a popular approach with other TTers who said they intended to adopt, or adapt, it themselves in their future negotiations. Make of it what you will but, if only because it takes some nerve and determination to carry it off, it might just be worth a try for you at your next interview situation.

I've always gone in with the approach that I'm only going to get one good chance to establish the rules for negotiation so I aim, like any good boxer, for a point 30cm behind the head of the persons jaw I'm aiming at. The effect may flabbergast them or make them sit up and pay attention. Either way it should, by the end of my presentation, be clear to them that the biggest risk they face in not hiring me is that their competition might.

Cocky maybe, but if I didn't appear to feel confident I could do the job I'm applying for I would be wasting their time as well as my own. That said my approach would be to express the highest figure they could conceive of, cut them some slack and admit it is unreasonable to expect it without having proved myself worthy, and close with a lesser figure tied to a request for commitment to renegotiate at a set date in the future.

eg. assuming €Z = 10% above his must-have minimum, something like this:

" I believe, as soon as I have settled in to the corporate environment at XYZ PLC., my experience could well add sufficient value in efficiency/innovation/increased productivity to justify a salary investment of €Z+25%., however I understand that, in spite of my own confidence, such projections can only stand up under real world conditions. I am therefore prepared to discuss a starting package in the range €90%Z - €105%Z. I would appreciate if the terms included consideration of an upwardly progressive revision one year after the end of the probezeit."

I always had fun at interviews (until they started demanding academic qualifications and a lückenlos lebenslauf).

2B

Before deciding whether that's a tactic you could feel comfortable with I'd suggest investing some time on intensive internal, and recorded, rehearsals and then role-playing it with a reliable and honest critic until it fits you like a well-tailored suit. You might also find it worthwhile to consider any other possible tweaks you could think of applying to your Bewerbungsmappe profile and presentational style to make you stand-out above the competition. Good luck with your future applications and interviews.

2B

PS: I agree with zwiebelfisch about being open and honest but, rather than claiming 'I am not supposed to disclose my exact current salary.' (which frankly sounds totally bogus and made-up somewhat unlikely), I am of the opinion that you should simply say something of a more adamant nature like; MindYourOwnF-ingBeezkneez, biatch! 'My policy is to maintain strict privacy when it comes to confidential financial information'. B)

ETA: Whether playing with the girls behind the school bike-sheds or with the guys at the poker table the rule's the same: I'll show you mine if/when you show me yours. If they want the right to be coy about their intentions then that's their prerogative, but mutual respect demands they should recognise that you have the same right.

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Posted

Thanks zwiebelfisch and 2B!

@2B: I am not too sure which particular previous post(s) of mine you're referring to here, but frankly, I always believed in being determined when it is for the right cause:)

Nevertheless, I appreciate your opinion, but would rather like to try out what zwiebelfisch had suggested as it sounds more polite and professional to me.

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Posted

Durchsetzungsvermögen notiert in verbindung mit 'ne Sprachschule Prufung und irgendwelche ändere Amtskramliche frust wann ich mich richtig errinern.

I thought zwiebelfisch's suggestions sounded more polite and professional too, btw. :)

Anyway, it's a case of horses for courses or whatever suits your personal style best.

I write in TT as it comes, according to mood and level of sleep deprivation, but I also know that you would need to know me better to be aware of how I may actually present myself, and my arguments, in professional situations.

Maybe some other TT-reader-yet-to-come can benefit from my wall-of-text so I don't mind about having writit. :)

2B

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Posted

A couple of spontaneous comments from my side:

1) Your conviction that you are going to be their number one candidate when you are actually landing in the bin each time means you have a serious inability to read what is happening in these interviews - I would have a good long hard think about that.

2) Confidence is good, arrogance is bad. Your post comes across as arrogant to me and I would not be surprised if thats how you come across in interview and that why you are blowing it each time.

3) Its not "ironic" - You blew it.

4) 2Bs advice about "you show me yours then Ill show you mine" is excellent. As a general rule you really dont want to discuss salary at all in a first interview - Work out a get-out like "I am sure the recompense package follows the industry standard and for the moment I am looking at the interesting challenges you are offering". You certaily (in lazter interviews) want to try and get them to make you an offer rather than you making a demand.

5) Stop lying about your current salary. There are plenty of ways for a potential employer to know exactly what you earn so if asked tell them the truth. Adding 5-7% is just stupid.

6) If you are pimping your current salary by 5-7% and thenadding 8-10% that means you are expecting 13-17% more pay. Thats quite a lot in a German context - Are you certain the new job has that much more responsibility to justify that? (even given that your estimate of what your job is worth is correct)

Having said that, Im going to agree with the others and say you probably arent losing these jobs on pay - Theres something wrong with your general attitude or how you come across in interview and Im guessing it ahs to do with your apparently unshakable conviction that you are right.

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Posted

3 interviews are nothing...

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Posted

Why did you not want to tell your present salary?

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Posted

Some (many) people are contractually not allowed to disclose their current pay to others.

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Posted

From personal experience - I had a first-interview candidate name the exact lower amount on offer for the post, even though he was clearly worth twice that. I reported this back to HR and naturally he got to second interview and offer, when he promptly upped his price to the upper end of the scale - still less than he was worth.

He got the job, but the HR & Senior Management were furious with him (and me) for the duration of his contract.

I couldn't understand it - they'd got a great candidate at a price they had budgeted for, but it seemed their sense of 'honest dealing' had been offended.

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Posted

I reported this back to HR and naturally he got to second interview and offer, when he promptly upped his price to the upper end of the scale - still less than he was worth.

I couldn't understand it - they'd got a great candidate at a price they had budgeted for, but it seemed their sense of 'honest dealing' had been offended.

Imagine you were in a job interview and they said, oh yeah, we will pay 6K per month, no worries, and then when it came to the final interview round they changed it to 4K. Would you still say you cant understand anyone being angry with mysterious salary changes during the interview process?

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Posted

What you often see with foreign applicants is that they don't know their market value in Germany. Like, "Oh, tomorrow I have an interview, what salary shall I ask?". This is part of their home work. Back then, I took my Dutch salary and added 10%, because the salary differences are not that significant. If you come from e.g. Eastern Europe or Asia, it's another story.

Also, it doesn't hurt to call them and ask, for example, what you could improve the next time or if they have some tips. This way, you can find out a little bit more than a standard rejection letter.

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Posted

If you are currently underpaid and in the interview if they ask you your current salary.. make up a number that fits the current market rate.

But you should really do your research to understand your real worth.

If your current salary is good. just say it. adding 5% or so will also not hurt. giving a range will sound ABSURD.

Good luck

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Posted

What about saying "I am making X Euro right now but one of my reasons to apply for the job you offer is to improve my financial situtation"... Then you have delegated the number juggling to them...

After all, it is the department manager who decides if you're the right guy and he'll tell HR not to piss you off by offering an improvment of 1.5 percent...

Cheers

Franklan

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Posted

Thanks folks for your time and helpful answers!

@2B: I wish you good mood and better sleep for the future:)

@pog451: I think i know the situation better than you do because it was me who participated in the interview and answered their questions! And about me being arrogant i guess it does not make me one only if you say so:)

Why did you not want to tell your present salary?

@Gambatte: Why should I? What benefit would it bring to them?

What you often see with foreign applicants is that they don't know their market value in Germany. Like, "Oh, tomorrow I have an interview, what salary shall I ask?". This is part of their home work. Back then, I took my Dutch salary and added 10%, because the salary differences are not that significant. If you come from e.g. Eastern Europe or Asia, it's another story.Also, it doesn't hurt to call them and ask, for example, what you could improve the next time or if they have some tips. This way, you can find out a little bit more than a standard rejection letter.

@LukeSkywalker: I am a naturalized German citizen living and working in Germany for almost 10 years now. I have a masters degree from Germany and over 10 (9 being in germany) years of working experience. The job i am looking for would be my 4th one. I think i have enough working experience to know my worth and the market value!

@masaka: I am not under paid rather quite reasonably paid and that is the reason i am also looking for a reasonably paid job as per market standards and not get exploited.

@franklan: Thanks for the tip!

-7

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Posted

oh yeah, we will pay 6K per month, no worries, and then when it came to the final interview round they changed it to 4K.

don't have to imagine - it happened to me less than six months ago. During the interview the HR rep went out of the room and came back in with a new job title and lower salary.

I also worked for an employer than routinely added the nominal cash value of non-financial perks, such as use of company vehicles and subsidised meals, to the salary proposal. Most of us didn't notice the bait and switch until the first pay check arrived.

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Posted

Just a thought, but normally the interview guides suggest you call up the company and ask them why they rejected you.

I have done this a number of times and it is normally very helpful, in one case I simply emailed a company that rejected me and told them they had got it wrong and that they wanted to interview me, which worked as they ended up offering me a job.

In the end the job I got I think I got quite a good deal, by essentially doing what some one else already suggested, saying I make X now and expect a reasonable increase on that.

As a final thought if you are concerned that you are asking for too much money, when you tell them your number ask them whether it's reasonable!

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Posted

@LukeSkywalker, @Ben81: I think you're right, there is no harm in asking why they rejected me! But to get the confidence, I think one would need 3-4 companies to give the same reason for rejection.

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Posted

@Acechaser : That was certainly me after getting the 3rd rejection in a row:)) lol

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