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How to Excel at a German Job Interview
How to Excel at a German Job Interview
by Gyovanna Monreal
So, you’ve finally got it- the company is interested in you and you’re scheduled for an interview! Unfortunately, you still have so many questions and uncertainties. Will you need to speak German? How much German knowledge do they require? What are the cultural norms here in Germany? What are some things you absolutely should not say? In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know for a German job interview.
Popular job interview questions
Some of the most popular questions during a regular job interview ask about your biggest strengths and weaknesses, why you are interested in the company, what your hobbies are, and more. But here in Germany, interview questions may be quite different than those in other countries. Have no fear- Primus will help you prepare! Here are a few example questions (joblers.net) that may pop up during a German interview:
Why do you apply to our company? – Warum bewirbst du dich hier?
Why are you the perfect candidate? – Warum bist du der perfekte Kandidat?
Why do you fit in our company? – Warum passt du in unser Unternehmen?
Tell us something about yourself! – Erzähl etwas von dir selbst!
What do your family plans look like? – Wie sieht dein Familienplan aus?
What tasks are you very good at? – Worin bist du besonders gut?
What tasks are rather difficult for you? – Was/Welche Aufgaben fällt /fallen dir eher schwer?
What do you expect from your colleagues/bosses? – Was erwartest du von deinen Kollegen und von deinem Vorgesetzten?
How do you handle conflicts? Give us an example. – Wie gehst du mit Konflikten um? Gib uns ein Beispiel!
Do you like to work on your own or rather in teams? – Arbeitest du lieber im Team oder bevorzugst du es allein zu arbeiten?
How did you do? Remember that interviewers always appreciate when you try to speak some German, and it can contribute to the company’s interest in your profile. But don’t forget- if the company requires a fluent German speaker, you would do well to hold off on applying for these jobs until you feel comfortable enough with your German level. At first, try searching for jobs that use lower levels of German and/or even combine the job with a language closer to your native tongue. Practicing some German on the job will lead to better skills in the near future! Below are a few examples of websites where you can find jobs here in Germany:
If you are still struggling with finding a job here in Germany, another great tip is to visit the “Arbeitsagentur” or reach out to a “Personalmanagement” agency in your area. These are both excellent resources that often help foreigners and expats living in Germany with lower-level German skills. In fact, they may even help you find a job that involves your own native language! Check below for a few example links of these offices:
As mentioned before, there are quite a few cultural differences between job interviews here in Germany and job interviews in other countries. Below are a few things you should and shouldn’t do during an interview.
Show up on time! Germans are very punctual, and so being at least 10 minutes early is the standard.
Use formal German to greet the interviewers and phrases like “Freut mich!” to say “Nice to meet you!” as a polite greeting when shaking the interviewer’s hand.
Be prepared to talk about some aspects of your personal life, such as your living situation, relationship status, and plans for the future.
Brush up on facts about the company before going into the interview. Germans are often prideful about their companies and will appreciate you bringing some knowledge to show dedication and interest in their brand.
Find out about your visa requirements and how many hours you can work. For example, some visas only allow a “Mini Job” of a maximum of 40 hours and about 450 euros per month.
Know your worth- have a clear number in mind so that when they ask you what your preferred salary is. In other countries, this may be considered impolite, but in Germany, this is considered the standard.
Use informal German when greeting or speaking to the interviewers. Among the many complicated rules of the German language, knowing formal German terms can be very helpful prior to a job interview.
Arrive looking disheveled and untidy. Germans expect you to dress according to the occasion.
Be too detailed about your personal life. While interviewers do want to hear facts about you, they are not interested in knowing every detail of your relationship or your plans to buy new kitchen appliances. Keep your descriptions short and sweet.
Ask them to give you an offer or any kind of exact number for a salary. In Germany, you should know what sort of salary you’re going for so that the pressure is not on the interviewers to decide.
For more information about how to prepare for a German interview, check out the video below:
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Above all else, having at least some experience with the German language is perhaps the most important tip we can give you. Here at Primus, our teachers go above and beyond to help our students prepare for job interviews. Next time you’re wondering what to do for your upcoming job interview, feel free to ask your Primus instructor teacher for some advice! From writing formal letters to practicing class presentations, our German classes here at Primus will ensure that you have all the skills you need for your next German job interview.