Tips for Acing a Job Interview in Germany

Updated on
September 20, 2022

Try to refrain from doing the following:

1. Criticizing Others

Refrain from complaining, bad mouthing or criticising anyone. This includes your present or previous boss, any teachers that might have given you poor grades on exams simply because they had it in for you. Focus on positive energy rather than on the negative aspects of things.

2. Belittling Your Accomplishments

Even if you are interviewing for you first ever job, try to avoid handing over the power to the interviewer. Emphasise your experiences and stress what you learnt from different situations, even if that might be a job at McDonald's. This will show your interviewer that you possess time management and interpersonal skills. Underline the silver lining in any given situation. For example, if you had to stop working in order to look after your kids, talk about how you coordinated and handled household affairs instead of saying you did nothing in that time.

3. Boring Your Interviewer

Don’t forget that an interview should be a conversation, not a monologue. If you sense the interviewer is growing bored by your long answers, ask them if they would like to know something specific about your background, education or working experience.Here’s what you should be focusing on:

1. Be Punctual

A great tip worth keeping in mind is checking out the location of your interview the day before. This way, you’ll know how to get there and how much time it will take. Be prepared to talk about the town, as the interviewer might ask you ice-breaking questions about the surroundings. Germans appreciate punctuality, so do your best to be there a little earlier and take into consideration any traffic. However, don’t show up for your appointment an hour earlier. 15-25 minutes will suffice.

2. Dress Suitably

Remember that you only have one shot at making a great first impression. As a “schuhblade” society, Germans are quick to label and judge people. Don’t give your interviewer any reasons to to mislabel you, as it could take ages to change their opinion of you. Dressing suitably can be relative, and it usually varies according to the field you are working in. To be on the safe side, ask the interviewer beforehand about the dress code. You don’t want to show up to your interview overdressed when everyone is wearing relaxed outfits or underdressed when everyone is wearing business attire.

3. Bring Multiple CV and Cover Letter Copies

You want to prove to your interviewer you’re well prepared and you’re eager to get the job. Being prepared with multiple copies of your CV and cover letter (2-3 will suffice) will show you potential employer that you are reliable and thorough. Come prepared with both English and German CVs.

4. Take Advantage of Your Research

Doing research on your potential future employer is paramount, but what's even more important is remembering the data and information and using it on the interview day. Find out about any new product launches and ask questions about progress or excitement levels amongst the employees. If you know your interviewer has an upcoming keynote speech, ask them how preparations are going. Just keep in mind to reserve these questions for small talk and don’t bring them up when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions about your role in the company.Your researching efforts will also come in handy when your interviewer will want to know why you chose their company. Use any information you have about the company when you’re asked about where you see yourself in five years, but adjust your answers so that they comply with the position you’re applying for as well as the firm policy.When it comes to financial expectations, use any data you find online. Depending on the field you are working in, you might be asked to give a salary expectation range (a desired salary figure and a minimum acceptable salary figure) or a specific number.

5. Boast about Your Achievements

An interview is not the best time to be shy or modest. Regardless of being a woman or a man, you should emphasise your accomplishments and let the interviewer know you’re the best candidate for the job. Recent studies showed that male candidates use 80% of the time to talk about the 20% they know, describing their knowledge so as to impress the interviewer, while female candidates only take 20% of the time to talk about how the 80% they know isn’t up to par.

6. Be Polite and Kind to the Secretary

You won’t be doing yourself a favour if you’re being rude to the secretary. Don’t underestimate their value – even though they’re not the ones holding the interview, they might play a big role in you getting the job you’re after. This is why you want to treat secretaries just like you would treat their boss. This way, when the interviewer asks them what they think about you, they can only say good things about your attitude, increasing your chances of getting a call back for the job.

7. Rein in Your Emotions

Everybody has been through tough times, but that doesn’t entitle you to treat a job interview as a therapy session. Refrain from talking about bad break-ups or a tough childhood.German interviewers are also notorious for pushing the limits of the candidates in order to test their stress levels. Keep calm in any situation and don’t take things too personally. A surprising tactic of Germans is to use insults to test your patience. Try not to reciprocate and keep a formal conversational tone. This will show your interviewer you can handle stressful situations and that you don’t easily lash out, acting on your impulses. You will earn their respect and bonus points that will help you earn the job.

8. Make a List of Questions for the Interviewer

Having a list of questions you want to address your interviewer speaks volumes about your dedication and preparation level. It will underline your intelligence and thoroughness. Avoid saying you don’t have any questions when the interview is done, as you risk coming across as uninterested or even bored. If you really can’t come up with any questions, don’t say “I don’t have any questions” but rather “You have already answered all my questions”. Remember it’s ok to address questions to your interviewer during the interview, you don’t necessarily have to wait until the very end. For example, if you’re taken on an office tour, you can ask about your desk during the tour instead of waiting until the end.

9. Make Eye Contact

Eye contact creates a relationship between you and the person you are talking to. In the Western World, it is seen as a sign of self-confidence, strength and intelligence. Try to look your interviewer in the eye when they are talking to you and maintain eye contact when it’s your turn to talk. Staring at your shoes or looking at the clock on the wall will make you look like a nervous, anxious person who might not be the first choice for the job.

10. Have a Notepad for Taking Notes

You might be tempted to think you’ll remember all the important things your interviewer is mentioning, but the truth is you won’t! It’s important to have a small notebook with you on the interview so you can jot down things you’ll need later on or things they mention and you want them to explain later. The same notepad can have the list of questions you prepared beforehand for your interviewer. Having the questions in front of you during the interview will allow you to cross out the ones that are being answered unknowingly.

For Interviews over the Phone or on Skype:

Even if you’re not headed to the company’s offices, you still have to look presentable. Wear a neat and clean top that emphasises your features. Choose a blank wall as your background so that the interviewer is not distracted. It’s best to sit on a chair in an upright position rather than leaning or lying down, which will affect your voice. Put your phone on airplane mode and head to a quiet room. Find a babysitter for your kids in order to avoid surprise interruptions. Make sure your internet connection works properly and, if necessary, find a cyber with a private room. If you don’t trust your wifi connection, use a LAN cable and always have your device fully charged.

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