My interview:

Have you already applied to the company of your choice and made an impression with your application documents? Great, then you are just a few steps away from your dream job. Get to know your future superiors and co-workers in job interviews and present yourself from your best side. Now it's time to get down to business. Because the interview shows how suitable you are for the available position, and whether you can identify with the company and integrate well into the team.

However, in an ideal case, job interviews shouldn't be completely one-sided. You also have the opportunity to clarify important questions and get a good impression of your potential new job.

The good thing about this is: You have sufficient time to prepare for the interview and find out about the key figures, products and strategies of your dream company.

In order to be as well prepared as possible and avoid making mistakes, we will show you what's important in the job interview

Preparing for your interview

However individual an interview may seem, there are certain things that are common to them all. The applicant introduces himself, the company introduces itself, questions are asked of the applicant and the applicant asks questions of the company. These are all points that can be practised in advance by the applicant with a friend or acquaintance.

Firstly, this forces you to firmly compose your thoughts and responses and secondly, you have the opportunity to experience what an interview is actually like in advance, which has been shown to reduce stress levels during a real interview. Your "interviewer" can then give you tips on where you can improve and also provide you with an assessment of how you performed in certain areas. Take constructive criticism seriously and work on the points raised. Remember, good preparation is the first step to success.

Video: Tips for the interview (Duration 2:10 minutes, Video is in German)

10 tips for your successful job interview

A job interview is an exceptional situation and everyone is certain to be a little excited. It's great if you don't show it, but it's also okay to briefly mention that you're nervous. It's only human. In this situation, it may also help you to internalize the following ten tips for your job interview to avoid uncertainty:

  1. Be well prepared for your interview
  2. Be honest and authentic
  3. Try to stay calm, even if you're nervous
  4. Use the correct body language
  5. Greet the people you are talking to in a friendly manner
  6. Tell them about yourself, and reply to questions as individually as possible
  7. Show interest in your future field of work
  8. Ask your employer questions
  9. Ask when you will receive feedback
  10. Be friendly and maintain eye contact

Dress code: Business vs. Casual

First impressions are important in an interview. Make a good impression with clean and tidy clothing, and briefly check whether your hairstyle is in order and that everything is in place.

It is important for you to feel comfortable. It ultimately depends primarily on the industry in which you are applying for a job whether you attend the interview in your smartest business outfit or in casual dress.

Tip: If you are not sure which style to adopt, take a good look at the website or social media posts of your dream company. This will quickly show you what type of clothing is appropriate.

The telephone interview

Some companies preselect applicants and would like to get to know you in a telephone interview before the face-to-face interview. They are already interested in you, and you are on the short list of suitable candidates.

Like the job interview itself, the telephone interview will not be spontaneous. In the majority of cases, the company will suggest a time and date for the telephone call beforehand. This means that you will have some time to mentally prepare for it. During the interview, you should have the job advertisement, your application and information about the company at the ready, and take the telephone interview equally as seriously as a job interview. It will be important for you to briefly introduce yourself and your qualifications (check your CV), and consider in advance why you are particularly suitable for this job.

The distribution of roles tends to be more fixed in a telephone interview than it is in a job interview. Don't be surprised if the phone call is very structured and you only answer questions and aren't given the opportunity to ask any questions of your own.

Tip: You can expect the telephone interview to last for about 30 to 40 minutes. Take notes and find a quiet place to talk on the phone where you will not be disturbed.

The face-to-face interview

In the interview, you are an ambassador for your own cause. Be self-confident and show what you're made of, and why you would be an essential asset to your future employer.

The first impression counts

You really want to get this job. You are highly motivated. The date and time for the interview have been set and you are well prepared. Great, then all you now have to do is be on time, about ten minutes before the appointment – and make an impression. You can make an impression not only with your qualifications, but also with your positive attitude. This means that your clothing must be suitable for your future job and that you remain as calm as possible – even if you're inwardly excited. Maintain eye contact and speak openly with the other person. A firm handshake and a warm smile can also work wonders. If you have written down any notes and questions in advance, be sure to bring them with you to the interview. This makes a well prepared and professional impression.

Who is involved in the interview?

At some companies, two or more people will sit on the opposite side of the table: someone from the HR department and someone from the specialist department in which your position is located. Include everyone in your replies with your looks. If there is a second interview in which different people are involved, do not assume that they know everything about you. Get the new person(s) on board and include information from the first interview in your replies.

What happens at the interview?

Many job interviews start with a little small talk, which also helps you to gather your thoughts and familiarise with the situation. This is followed by a round of introductions, in which you can introduce yourself, describe your career and talk about the advertised position. The company will also introduce itself and your position that you are applying for, and then go on to ask you questions. The classic types of question will relate to your strengths and weaknesses, why you want to change jobs, what appeals to you about the new job, the kind of tricky situations you have successfully dealt within recent years and how you achieved this. Topics such as salary and your earliest possible start date will be discussed towards the end of the interview. Here you can also expect some initial feedback about the interview, and information about the next step of the application process. If these framework conditions are not addressed by your conversation partner, be proactive and ask about them yourself. Use this situation to thank them for the interview and emphasise your interest in the position.

Get an impression of the corporate culture

Since the interview usually takes place on the company premises, take the opportunity and ask for a tour of the company. On the one hand, this shows that you are interested. On the other hand, you can gain a first impression of everyday work and the working environment. Check whether the employees greet each other, and what the general atmosphere is like. Is there an eerie silence, or can you also see smiling faces? By looking into the offices, you can also see whether you will be working with outdated technology in the future, or whether everything is up to date.

Video - Score in the interview (Duration 3:25 minutes, Video is in German)

The video interview

Particularly because of the Corona pandemic, many companies have started to carry out virtual job interviews. This is a special challenge for everyone involved, because it is much more difficult to make eye contact and behave naturally during a video interview. However, it is not impossible.

It is advisable to make sure that all of your equipment is working before the video interview, and choose a suitable background that is not too distracting. You can test how the camera and microphone work with friends and acquaintances, whether the lighting is right and how you present yourself in the virtual interview situation.

Make sure that you face the camera as much as possible during the video interview. This gives your conversation partners the feeling that they are being looked at directly.

All of the other components such as your outfit and the course of the interview should be planned in the same way as you would for an on-site interview.

Frequently asked questions at the interview

Even if you don't know the entire list of questions that you will be asked about your dream job, there are some questions that you should think about beforehand and to which you can provide informative answers in the interview.

There is no right or wrong way to answer the questions. It is much more important to give honest and authentic answers.

You should be able to answer these questions in any job interview:

  • Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
  • Why did you apply for this particular job?
  • Are you willing to do training?
  • Why are you the right person for the job?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Do you have previous experience in the required area, and how can you make use of this in our company?
  • How do you deal with stressful or conflict situations?
  • Where do you think you will be in five years?

Tip: You don't have to answer all the questions in the interview. Draw a line, particularly when it comes to personal or critical questions, and politely point out to your interview partners that you do not want to reply to this question for certain reasons.

Interview guide

Download our interview guide now to find the right answers to standard questions, ask your interviewer the right questions and make an impression.(only available in German).

Possible questions to ask your future employer

At the end of the interview, you will usually be asked whether you have any questions about the advertised position or the company. If you haven't already asked these questions, take the opportunity to discover what is important to you, and show your interest by doing so.

Regardless of the company and the position that is being filled, you can ask the following questions:

  • Who will I be reporting to?
  • What are your expectations of me?
  • How would you describe your corporate culture?
  • How is your onboarding organised?
  • What happens during a typical working day?
  • Why is this position available?

Behaviour at an assessment centre

In some companies, especially major ones, you may have to attend an assessment centre when you are applying for a trainee programme or a team leader position.

Assessment centres can last for up to three days, and consist of various exercises in which you are confronted with everyday tasks and problems. Several of the company's managers will observe how you behave in a wide variety of situations, and how you approach problems.

The focus will be on the following points: What is your role within the group? Do people listen to you? Do you value the opinions of other people? Are you cooperative? How do you react in stressful situations? How effective are you? Do you get frustrated easily? Are you easy-going and authentic, and humorous without being ridiculous?

After the assessment centre, you will be given feedback and information about how to proceed in a face-to-face interview.

After the job interview: These are the next steps

"So, how did the interview go?" You are sure to hear this question from your circle of friends and acquaintances after your interview. Even if you have a good feeling about it, you'll have to be patient until the company contacts you, unless otherwise agreed.

If the company itself has set a deadline by which you can expect a response, be patient. However, if you still haven't received a decision three to four days after the deadline, then proactively contact the company. Stay on the ball and follow up.

Some companies will ask you to get in touch after a few days. In any case, take the time and talk to friends and acquaintances about it, and consider the pros and cons. Once you have made your decision, let the company know. However, don't take too much time with this, because there are sure to be other applicants who are interested in this position.

Did you receive confirmation straight after the interview? That's great, but don't be hasty when making the final decision. Sleep on it for a night and then give a firm yes (or no).

Dealing with a rejection

Have you received a rejection and can't understand why? You can always ask the company, but you won't always get an answer. There are numerous reasons for this. On the one hand, the HR department isn't really able to provide a meaningful answer for capacity reasons, and on the other hand, a company also has to avoid various legal pitfalls and therefore does not usually provide any justification. It may be different if you were one of the final three candidates or if your application went through a recruitment agency and you were at least able to have an interview with a representative of the company.

If you fail several times in interviews and don't know why, you can discuss your situation with a coach or a careers advisor. The third party perspective will basically help you to understand your situation. However, don't forget: Companies also have to attract employees nowadays – the entire thing is based on reciprocity.