Advice for Germany

A face-to-face interview is not uncommon, even for work placements. Since it’s simply impossible for applicants from North Africa or the Near East to travel to Germany for an interview, it’s important to ask in advance whether it is possible to conduct an interview via Skype or another video chat channel. Most HR officers will understand that. However, a remote interview is not very different from a face-to-face one.

Appear in person (HR officers are professionals; they will realize it if you are trying to deceive them).

Arrive on time (i.e. 20 minutes early).

Dress nicely. (Do not overdress: you should not be the best dressed person in the room, but not the worst dressed either. Unfortunately, it is impossible to give any more detail here, since dress codes vary greatly by type of business).

Be well prepared. But do not try to memorize standard answers. HR professionals know all the standard answers and might become bored. Try to be yourself, but be specific, factual, technical and realistic. The topics you should expect are: details of your CV, details about the company / department where you are applying, and your strengths and weaknesses. The latter are very common and very difficult to answer. Don’t be too shy but don’t be over-confident. Don’t try to lie. Recruiters know that everyone thinks that impatience is a “positive weakness”.

You can find lists of possible questions by following the web links below. Here are a few typical questions they might ask you:

- What do you know about our company or our department?

- What exactly do you expect from this work placement? / Why did you apply for this particular placement?

- What school subjects / fields of study have you enjoyed the most and the least?

- Do you prefer working alone or in a team?

- How would you rate your knowledge of xyz?

- Describe a situation when your work or an idea of yours was criticized.

- Imagine that a trainee or an employee from another department is not satisfied with the results of your work and wants you to revise it. How would you react? (And more hypotheticals like that.)

Be prepared for them to ask, at the end of the interview, if you have any questions. Prepare a few questions like:

- What would a typical day look like?

- What will my exact duties be? Will I be working on a long term project? Is there anything that I will be able to present at my university after my placement?

- What documents will I need in preparation for the placement?

- Is there a chance of being hired after the placement, as either a student or a graduate? (The latter question is particularly useful because trainees’ long term loyalty to the company often factors into the company’s interests.)

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