Germany

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Your Application and Beyond

Employers in Germany put great emphasis on written and formal job applications. HR managers in Germany often regard applications as an opportunity for the prospective employee to summarize their qualifications, skills, and work experience and to present themselves in a favorable manner.
Congrats on landing an interview for a new job in Germany! Hopefully, the tips below will help you to achieve success.

Curriculum Vitae

Start your CV (Lebenslauf) with personal details: your contact information, your nationality, your date and place of birth. Personal photos in applications are required in Germany. The picture should be of good quality and show more of your personality than a passport photo. You may want to consider having professional photographs (Bewerbungsfotos) taken. They can be either black and white or in color. Make sure to get a digital copy as well.

Your CV should be two pages in total. If you have five or more years of work experience, three pages are all right, too. Keep in mind that the HR person reviewing the applications has very little time and receives a lot of letters. Your application does not necessarily offer a complete resume of everything you have done during your education and career. Think of it as a teaser and emphasize your assets.

Divide your CV into subsections and stick to a tabular design. You usually put the time period in question (e.g. 01/2008-10/2012) on the left and mention the name of your former employer and your old job title on the right-hand side. These listings should appear in reverse chronological order. You can either add or omit certain sections if this helps you to structure your vita around a central theme. Feel free to highlight different aspects of your CV according to the job profile of the vacancy.

For example, you could arrange the different sections of your CV in the following order:

  • work experience (may be divided into further subsections)
  • education
  • languages
  • other skills and qualifications

Enclosures

In Germany, you are expected to provide proof of the professional experience, academic degrees, and official qualifications mentioned in your application. However, you may omit proof of preliminary degrees if they were later followed by higher degrees, whether they were taken at one of the many universities in Germany or abroad.

For more information on job applications in Germany, complete with best-practice examples and excerpts, please have a look at Jova Nova (German only).

The Interview  

When you are invited for a job interview, you cannot go wrong with dressing formally, although the dress code for many jobs has become more casual within the past decade. The interview will be conducted in the German language, unless the job ad was written in English or you have explicitly asked for an interview in a foreign language.

Job interviews in Germany are usually matter-of-fact and straightforward. They take around 30 to 90 minutes. Larger companies with very specific requirements often conduct longer interviews, invite the short-listed candidates to several rounds and test various skills in assessment centers.

During any interview, be prepared for questions concerning your CV, your personal motivation for the job, and your interest in working for this particular company. Do some research about the company in advance. Asking further questions about the responsibilities and prospects of the job vacancy is a great way of showing your genuine interest in the position.

Employers are not allowed to ask just any sort of question. When you are asked an inappropriate question you do not have to answer it. Furthermore, German labor legislation explicitly allows you to lie to avoid ruining your job prospects.

Inappropriate questions include enquiries about family planning, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religious faith, political affiliation, and membership in trade unions. However, there are certain exceptions to the rule, e.g. if you apply for a job as a translator at a political party convention or as the accountant for a local parish church. Questions about a certificate of conduct, about past illnesses, or your former salary can be subject to legal restrictions too.

 

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