Working for a German company
German companies usually prefers job candidates with an impeccable appearance. This applies to every step of the application process. We collected some useful hints to help you to leave a perfect impression from the very beginning and get the job you want.
For a German application one needs to send a covering letter, a CV in chronological order, a copy of the last school certificate and Bachelor, Master or Diploma certificate, reference letters from former employers or internships and certificates from further education. Attaching a photo to the application is optional, but if done so the photo should be taken by a professional. All these documents need to be put into a folder in the following order: covering letter, CV, certificates in chronological order (most up to date one first).
First a short introduction about oneself: ensuring to highlight any qualifications that are relevant to the position. The next paragraph should contain information about work related experience. This should not only be an enumeration of work experience but a presentation of experience and qualifications that were gained through work. In the following paragraph one should emphasize the personal and social competences in order to complete the main part of the covering letter. The main part is supposed to show interest in the company and to highlight the applicant’s unique selling points not just to list work experience. A possible entry date or a request to be invited for a job interview as well as a salutation and personal signature conclude the covering letter.
A German application has to look accurate and professional. Therefore the application should be written on a computer and be printed out (if requested) on white paper. Furthermore it does not make a good impression if there are spelling mistakes in the application, so it is useful to have it checked by someone else. In addition German companies are not fond of exaggeration. Naturally the applicant wants to sell his or her qualities but when doing so he or she should not exaggerate over the qualifications.
Prior to the job interview
In order to be prepared to answer questions one should collect as much information about the company and the job as possible. This research should include information about the company’s activities, success and culture such as size, revenues and structure. Also, one should not forget to go over the job offer again to make sure the job requirements can be met. Particularly one must be able to discuss his or her career without looking into the CV.
German companies expect their applicants to dress seriously. Therefore suit and tie is a must for men; women should wearasuit or trouser suit as well. The applicant should refrain from wearing conspicuous clothes such as shorts or miniskirts. Furthermore avoiding the use of perfumes or aftershaves is preferable.
Since punctuality is deeply rooted in German culture it is crucial for the applicant to arrive on time. If delays or even cancellations can be foreseen the company should be informed immediately to postpone the appointment.
During the interview
The interviewer will introduce himselfor herself, so it is essential to remember the name and possible titles in order to address the interviewer correctly. The interviewee should introduce himself or herself as well and only have a seat when asked by the interviewer. In Germany it is common to start introductions with a hand shake. When sitting down the interviewee should select a seat from which he or she can sit opposite the interviewer.
In order to remove the nervousness and tension the interviewer will most likely make small talk before asking more detailed questions. Afterwards one has to introduce one’s educational and/or professional career. For that one should be prepared to answer questions about former work experience and naturally other personal or work related questions. The answers should not digress from the original question. When a question is asked the interviewer may not be interrupted.
The applicant can, of course, ask questions. Nonetheless, questions that do not relate to the current conversation topic should be asked at the end of the interview. Indeed, it leaves a good impression if the interviewee has prepared several questions to show his or her interest in the job and the company. Questions about desired compensation or contract of employment should be avoided in the first interview unless mentioned by the interviewer.
German employers may not ask the applicant about his or her political or religious attitude. Furthermore questions about one’s privacy, which would include asking about future family plans for example pregnancy, are not allowed to be posed. If asked such questions the applicant may refuse to answer them.
It is understandable that the applicant is nervous during the interview; nonetheless one should refrain from making gestures that support nervousness. In Germany many people do not smoke, therefore it might be impolite to smoke in front of the interviewer since one does not know whether he or she could be a non-smoker. Furthermore it is typical to use tissues when hawking up in Germany, consequently if the applicant feels like hawking up during the interview he or she should use a tissue so that the interviewer does not get offended.