Excerpted from the Germany Career Guide
The typical way to apply for a job in Germany is by sending a résumé (or ‘CV’) and cover letter. Whether sent online or by mail, both of documents, in most cases, should be in German. The application package generally includes other documentation, such as copies of school transcripts and university diplomas, proof of professional training, written references from previous employers and a professional photo. See this guide’s Résumé/CV Guidelines section for information regarding the recommended content and format of résumés and cover letters in Germany.
Being prepared for a job interview in Germany requires three things:
- Having a basic understanding of oneself, including values, skills, interests, abilities, career objectives, academic history and how the particular job relates to one’s self-understanding;
- Being reasonably knowledgeable before the interview about the job, its requirements, the company, the industry, and when possible, the person conducting the interview;
- Understanding and being prepared for the fundamentals of the interview process.
German is the official language in Germany, with English being the second most common language. Although business can be conducted in English, most companies prefer applicants speak at least some German. Many executives are comfortable speaking English, but may prefer to converse in their native language. Attempts at speaking German are always appreciated.
Interviews are generally conducted formally and efficiently. Germans are typically prompt, and being on time is extremely important.
The next step in the process after the application or initial screening will normally be the interview. In Germany, at least two job interviews are customarily held for any position. Usually the first is held with the personnel department, with attention being paid primarily to the personality of the interviewee. The second interview is then held with field management and perhaps the specialists who may test the candidate’s technical and professional knowledge. Additional interviews may be held with teams, peers and the board depending on the level of the position. Psychological and aptitude tests are commonplace in Germany.
Although it’s not standard procedure in Germany, sending a thank you card or an appreciative email to the interviewer is always a good idea. Sending a thank you note when the company has hired someone else for the position may make a lasting good impression.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Germany Guide.