Found an exciting job offer? Then it’s time to start applying. The first step is to send your application documents to the company. After that, the company will, hopefully, invite you for an interview. You can find out the best way to apply and present yourself here.
In Germany, the usual way of doing things is to send your application documents – printed – in a special application folder by post. However, more and more companies also point out in their job offers that they will be glad to receive applications online. In that case, you can send your documents in a PDF file. However, regardless of whether you apply by post or online, the information and documents that go to make up your application are the same:
In the application process, a convincing cover letter is as important as your CV. On the Europass pages, you can find out about formal requirements for a cover letter, too.
What professional qualifications do you have? This is often a key question for companies in Germany. You are no doubt capable of answering the question. However, the qualifications obtained in your home country are often not comparable with German qualifications, or are called something else. In that case, German companies will find it difficult to judge your application. This is an opportunity for you to score points: find out for yourself whether your qualification can be or must be checked for equivalence, and to which German reference profession it corresponds. You can then include the information in your application right away. You can find out more about “Getting your professional qualifications recognised” here.
The company is interested in your application and has invited you to an interview – congratulations, you have got one important step further. The job interview offers you and the company a chance to make acquaintance with one another. In most cases, you will meet the personnel manager and the line manager. They will probably ask you questions about your CV, your expectations of the job and salary, as well as about your aptitudes and interests. The interviewers may also want to see how well you speak German or English. In many cases, they will ask why you want to work in Germany and what you expect from living in Germany.
There are lots of things you can do to prepare for these interviews. For example, find out about the company in advance. Also, prepare a couple of answers about your aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by reading your CV through again and writing a couple of key words by each point, for example. You can also think about the questions that your interlocutors might put. That is a way of showing that you are interested.
Besides what you say during the interview, a couple of other criteria are important too – no doubt the same all over the world. Be punctual. Your mobile phone or smartphone should be systematically switched off during a job interview. Also, come along wearing appropriate clothing: women should usually wear a trouser or dress suit, men a suit with a shirt and tie. However, you need to take the particular circumstances of specific sectors into account.
In Germany, the company usually pays the costs of job interviews. If you are travelling from abroad, ask whether all your costs will be paid in this case too. Also, ask the company whether you can be interviewed over the phone or by video-conference. If the company would still rather get to know you in person, ask whether you have to pay the travel costs yourself or whether the company will pay them.
Non-EU citizens should also find out what entry requirements apply to them. A visa is available that permits you to come to Germany for six months to search for employment. All related costs are your personal responsibility. more
For higher-ranking positions – management jobs, for example – companies often use assessment centres. This is a special kind of selection process. Here, the applicant is asked to perform certain tasks with other applicants. For example, you might be asked to discuss topics as a group, do role play or give a presentation. This is a way for the company to find out how you tackle problems, cope with stressful situations and use your soft skills.
Some time later, the company will let you know whether or not you have got the job. Many companies will notify you after just a few days, others only after a few weeks. If the company wants to recruit you, once you have accepted its offer it will send you a work contract. If you agree with the work contract, sign it and return it to the company. You can find out what to look out for in the work contract here.
How to have your professional qualifications recognised and where to find your local contact centre (i.a. German, English, Spanish, Italian, Polish)
The Europass cv for applicants (German)