My First Major Job Interview in Germany

That was me 3 years ago – fresh after my postgraduate studies (M.Sc. Infection Biology, University of Lübeck). I was super excited about my first physical job interview in Germany: Positive, enthusiastic, confident……… and all optimistic feelings you can think about.

I was sure of landing the job – didn’t matter if it’s my dream job or not – boy’s getting a job soon after graduation – that’s what matters.

Job post: in English; Company’s website: in English; no option to even change it to German or other languages.

Job application: Sent in English; First feedback to the application: Sent in English; Invitation to interview: Sent in English! Wow! What more could I ask for?

Job description – I could deliver 100% in English. In German? Not written in the description, so no need to think about it. Lol ?

I could not ask for more – especially for a job in Munich – don’t even worry about the salary, they got you covered. Even if you will spend most of it on house rent and perhaps groceries……….., Munich is a beautiful city to leave in, so it’d all be good anyways.

I was so sure of getting the job and was already making accommodation plans. I prepared in the best ways possible – at least I thought and rehearsed my speeches and possible answers to potential questions a million times. I was ready to pass the ‘exam’ even if I had no idea what the questions would be like. I trusted my college style of preparing and passing exams.

Since the interview would be in English (logically it should), I was confident in myself – actually, I was overconfident. Just in case I had to talk to someone at the reception, I pocketed precisely enough German to get me across to the interview room (I thought to myself… lol ?).

Well, things started changing slowly when I arrived a bit too early – 20 minutes before the time and was informed (by one of the interviewers, in German), to go and hang around for a while and come back just shortly before the interview time: Welcome to Germany – the land of precision!

I came back right in time as was asked to. To show good manners, I exchanged greetings with the interviewers (two of them) in German, hoping that’d be it (my pocketed German was already running out ???). The first interviewer proceeded to introduce himself, and then the second and then I did – all in German. And I thought to myself, ‘when will the real interview begin?’

The real interview continued as the first person started describing the company. I had to interrupt, to ask if the language of the interview is German: ‘Oh yes, it is. Didn’t you know that?’ He asked. I was like, ‘no! I did not expect it at all………’ I explained how every step so far in the application process was in English until now. The first tension in the meeting ensued – I was caught off guard and I started sweating in my nice suit! Lol, ? I laugh about it today but not then.

To cut a long story short, we had some arguments on which language to interview in. Of course, they understood my points but wouldn’t accept it since it is a German company and most of the colleagues in the laboratory are native German speakers – there was hardly a chance that I would work in English. I should have thought about that earlier. In the end, we had a compromise – the interview was conducted in Denglisch!

That experience taught me that, you could never be over-prepared for anything. When you are taken by surprise and feel disappointed, let it be a lesson that’d propel you to the next level. I learned my lessons that day and sent all subsequent applications in German ONLY – thanks to the good friends that supported me then. If the communication turned out to be in English, that’s several pluses for me!

Amongst other things to learn, I sure did learn the following:

  • Be open to changes and if one way does not work, try another
  • You could never be too prepared – look deeper than the logical procedures
  • Prepare for the worst. If things go all Gucci, then you can call it luck!

What experience have you had attending job interviews in Germany? Share your thoughts.

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