Applying to a job in your native language is hard, but going through the process somewhere new to you can feel impossible. Don’t fret! English and German resumes and interviews are more similar than they are different, so you already know a lot of what you need. For the rest, we put together this guide on how to write a CV for a German job and prepare for an interview.
How To Structure Your German CV
For the most part, a German CV is going to look pretty similar to ones from other countries (and we have a more general guide to making resumes, too). It should be one page, though two is also alright. One particular difference is that a German CV often includes a headshot, which isn’t always standard practice everywhere else. While you have some creative liberties with your resume, here’s a common German CV structure:
- Title. Put Lebenslauf — “CV” — at the top.
- Header. Here, you’ll want to include your name and contact details (address, phone number, email address).
- Education. Include a short section on relevant schooling: secondary school, university and graduate school, as well as any professional training. Include when you attended, the institution’s name, what you studied, your overall grade, and your degrees and certificates.
- Work Experience. Starting with your most recent job and working backwards, including your job title, the place of work, the period you worked there and your main responsibilities. You don’t necessarily need to list every job you’ve had if it makes your resume too long.
- Additional Skills. Include anything else you know that is relevant to what you’re applying to, as well as your proficiency. Specific computer programs you use, equipment you can operate and, of course, any language skills you have (and if you’re not sure how to incorporate those, we have a complete guide to including language skills on your resume).
- Hobbies and Interests. Depending on the job, it may be good to include your hobbies and interests that pertain to the role.
Once you’ve made one German resume, there are a few more steps to take. First, proofread it to make sure that there are no errors. Second, personalize your resume for each job you apply to. For example, if one of your hobbies is baking, that could be useful to include when you’re applying to a café, but not if you’re trying to work at a bookstore (unless they also sell baked goods).
You’ll also want to include a cover letter for any job application. Again, it’s not too different from other cover letters. Create a header with the recipient’s contact information, your contact information, the current date and the reason for the letter (for example, “RE: Editorial Assistant Position”). Address the recipient with Sehr geehrte(r). Then write the introduction — including where you found the job listing — and follow that with the main part of the letter, which should answer the questions “Why do you want the job?” and “Why are you the ideal candidate?” Lastly, thank the reader and ask to set up a time to discuss the job further, and sign off with Mit freundlichen Grüßen. The cover letter should be on top of your resume, and those two can be followed by any diplomas and certificates you want to include.
How To Conduct Yourself In A Business German Interview
Your German resume went over well, and now it’s time for the interview. Here are a few common practices to follow: research the company beforehand to figure out an appropriate outfit; arrive punctually and call ahead if you’re running late; make a good amount of eye contact; and bring a printed copy of your German CV and cover letter. Here are a few common German interview questions you might get.
- Was sind Ihre Stärken? (“What are your strengths?”) — Mention your skills that particularly pertain to the job.
- Was sind Ihre Schwächen? (“What are your weaknesses?”) — A famous trick question. The best thing to do is to mention something you struggle with that isn’t essential to the role, but also mention the specific steps you’re taking to improve in that area.
- Wo sehen Sie sich in 5 Jahren? (“Where do you see yourself in five years?”) — Say how you want to grow in this role.
- Warum möchten Sie in unserer Firma arbeiten? (“Why do you want to work here?”) — Think of something that shows both your interest in this specific job and how well you researched the company beforehand.
- Haben Sie noch Fragen? (“Do you have any other questions?”) — It’s always best to ask at least one question about the role or the company, like “What does success in this role look like?” or “What is the company culture like?”
After the interview, make sure to follow up with a thank you email to the interviewer that reiterates your interest in the job. You can also use this to ask any questions you may have come up with since the interview ended. Good luck!