Job interviews in Germany, what to expect

238 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

I'm going for an interview later this week with a technology company based in Germany. I haven't been for an interview here before and am wondering if there's likely to be anything out of the ordinary - ordinary for me is Australia or UK. ie. something that is common German practice but would seem strange to a foreigner. There have been a few things I've seen here in Germany that have weirded me out, eg. having to buy your kitchen when renting! So I thought it best to ask.

 

Thanks!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They might ask you if you are married, pregnant and what your religion is. Not necessarily, but they might.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recommend reading a book by Hesse / Schrader. They are written especially for the German job market, which has its own laws on how to apply for a job. Of all the "Bewerbungsbücher" I find them the best by far.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing I can think of really, I except on my interviews, I was taken to meet everyone in the company. That was a bit odd.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From experience, I think if you get offered an "interview" by a german company the job is pretty much yours anway. They just want to meet you, learn a bit about you and discuss some finer details and, as inflateablewoman said, take you round to meet everyone in the company. If they're not interested then you might get your application stuff returned to you with a terse note of rejection (if you're lucky).

 

Interviews I've had were basically a few minutes of me telling them about myself, a few minutes of them talking about the company, and then straight onto the contract. All far less formal than in the UK, but then that could probably be down to the fact that german companies ask for shedloads more stuff by way of an application and sort the wheat from the chaff that way.

 

Good luck by the way!

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It very much depends on the company. About two years ago I had an interview at a large German company, and it took the whole day. 8am started off with an exam they gave me, locked me in a room and came back 1 hour later, 4 people looked at what I had done and had a meeting about it (excluding me, of course). Then they gave me the next task: prepare a presentation for 1/2 hour, then hold the presentation in front of them for 1/2 hour. Next followed a very personal interview by the personnel manager for 1 hour, followed by some sort of a quiz by the other 4 people for I think more than 2 hours. At the end of the day I think they knew more about myself than I ever did.

 

BTW, four weeks later I was informed that I was "over-qualified" for the job!

3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

They might ask you if you are married, pregnant and what your religion is. Not necessarily, but they might.

They are officially not allowed to ask these questions and for sure you don't need to answer them.

 

Just stay friendly, open and professional.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

From experience, I think if you get offered an "interview" by a german company the job is pretty much yours anway. ...

 

 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

 

i work in IT so we might not be a typically german company - but this is not the case with us. you would have at least three interviews with different people, and we have interviewed loads of people 2-3 times and then not given them the job.

 

the market has changed loads - a couple of years back you had to offer gold bullion for lunch everyday to get anyone on board, now there are swarms of people, quite often just made redundo, that we can choose from - guess that plays a significant role in the selection procedure.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Be prepared for the initial introductions to be in German, if your German isn't good enough greet everyone then ask politely in German "can we speak English please?" - "können wir bitte Englisch sprechen bitte". Helps to show you can string at least one sentence together.

 

Others might have better ideas on how to swing the meeting over to English, this is just how I have done it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bubblylady, are you sure they can't ask you if you are married or your religion? It certainly is included in many an application form for tax purposes. Of course you probably don't have to answer, but they may wonder why you aren't answering what for them is a simple question of clearing up your tax classification.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you want to mention the name of the company ? You never know someone might want to help you, by giving you some details about the company's method for interviewing. Maybe they won't do it so publically the forum, but maybe they will send you a PM.

 

Bring a copy of your CV/lebenslauf

Have an idea when you can start

Know something about the company (try news.google.com for up-to-date news on the company too)

Know where you are going on the morning of the interview.

Have a good breakfast before hand as you might be there all day.

Where something that shows all your assets ;) , but seriously, dress nicely.

 

As far as I know they can ask are you married, but not are you preggers/swanger. They can ask your religion, if your are prostestant you get an extra day a year.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i've been to 3 interviews recently and once my credentials and ambitions were established, it moved on to who i new in the (relatively small) field... and quite quickly to what i thought of particular people/customers... this happened at 3 out of 3 companies and it kinda caught me off guard, and i had to be very careful to keep it all professional...

 

other than that, i found they were all much more concered about how i would fit into the team and whether i had a good attitude and sense of humour than employers in the uk or ireland might be.

 

hah, germans asking me if i have a sense of humour!!! :rolleyes:

 

it looks like i'm going to the 3rd of the 3 in the near future, so i guess they must have thought i was funny...

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know what amazes me about Germany and their 'traditional job applications'? It's that if you don't have a picture, they throw it in the trash. In the States, if you attach your picture, everyone has a good laugh about it. Having the picture = chance to discriminate against applicant. Too old, too fat, too stupid looking, too white, too black, too Indian looking, etc, you get my point.

 

Plus, what does being 40 years old(as opposed to being 39) have to do with whether or not I am qualified for this job?

 

The perfect answer to the 'are you married? Pregnant? planning to get married, pregnant? etc questions. When asked, simply respond 'Well, if that makes me more qualified for this position, then 'yes'. Stupid, stupid questions!

 

And why do companies ask you to fill in the on-line application, attach your resume etc, when they just want to throw it out? Makes no sense. Imagine the quality of people they are missing out on.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't be surprised at all if the purpose for the picture was to discriminate. Before I moved here, I had someone looking for apartments for me. One of the landlords asked for a picture. I only found out later that it was to make sure I wasn't black!

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i've never attached a picture, on principle...

 

actually i was asked last week to evaluate an applicant for a job here and once i saw his c.v. his picture gave me immediate preconceptions that i have not been able to shake... he looks like the most boring man on earth...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

... They can ask your religion, if your are prostestant you get an extra day a year.

 

 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

 

can you not claim to have your own religion then and define your own national holidays, like homer did in the simpsons one time? ("Ah, the Feast of Maximum Occupancy")

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

Well, it of course depends on the company. However, a few things are worth noting:

 

- I am not sure about the emphasis on the German language. However, since you mention that it is a technology based company, it might be a bit relaxed with language requirements.

 

- Of course, stick to the universal interview preparation tricks. Research about the company and make sure you can ask them a few good questions.

 

- My experience with technology related companies is that they will ask you technical questions. So be prepared to answer them.

 

- I have never been asked about my religion etc. here in my seven years. However, others might have had different experience. Again, depends on the company. Old companies tend to be more conservative. New ones are more dynamic and adopting the international standards.

 

- Just be open and friendly. I am pretty sure you will not find something extremely out of the ordinary.

 

Also, Good luck! :)

 

Cheers,

 

xargon

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had over 30 interviews with both large (DaimlerChrysler) and small (less than 200 employees) companies. The fact that you have an inerview doesnt mean anything. They usually interview at least 50 people for the job.

 

here is my advice:

 

Only speak german. If you cant speak german well they will never hire you unless you have a special skill. The only time you should ever speak a foreign language in an interview is if they begin to speak in this language or they ask you to speak in it.

 

Dont wear a black suit. In germany, you only wear black suits to weddings and funerals.

 

When you sent in your lebenslauf with the application, you probably attached all your Unterlagen (diplomas, proof of where you worked, etc.). If not, bring all these with you.

 

Dont tell them you need a work permit! If they ask, of course you should tell them, but if they dont bring up the question, leave it. As soon as they hear the world 'Arbeitserlaubnis' they usually wont consider you any further. If they offer you the job, then find out you need the permit they will get it for you.

 

They will ask what you expect to earn. In every interview I have had, I tried to dodge the question, but they will be persistant. Tell them the truth, but be careful, because if you say a number that is too high, they wont look at you any further.

 

They will ask when you can start. Have a date in mind. This is important.

 

They will ask why you are leaving the company you are working for now or the last company you worked for.

 

This may only apply to me, and most german companies will never say it, but they all have this feeling when talking to foreigners. They will have the fear that you are just here for the short term and will get homesick and in a few years will want to go home and so will leave the company. I make it continuously clear that I want to stay in germany forever (when they ask). I dont know if this is the right thing to do or not, but bge aware that they will probably be thinking in the back of their mind that you might pick up and leave for home in a year or two.

 

The questions vary from company to company. The larger ones ask about examples of working in teams and problem solving. The smaller ones ask about what you have done in your last job and why you applied to them.

4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh something I forgot. When they ask if you have questions, ask at least 2-3. this is important!

 

About the religion question, no company will ever ask this. I think the people are confusing this with the fact that the church is paid through taxes here, so on application forms they want to know your religion so they can pay your taxes to the proper church. This has nothing to do with the hiring process.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was in Australia I think it was common practice to put a picture in a job application. Employers didn't require it at all (as they don't here), it was just common practice. Basically it can have the effect of snazzing up your application a bit, but mainly it makes it easier for the employer to remember you. I think it just never occured to people that it could be used to implement racially discriminatory policies. I think generally the same applies to Germany.

 

Now I am aware that the US has a very large black minority, so the people are very aware of and sensitive about racial issues. They are certainly right within their own culture and I am starting to see that this practice should perhaps be applied elsewhere, but the fact that others haven't woken up to this doesn't mean they are racist. I don't see a racist under every bed.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now