Job interview

General information on the job interview

The job interview (Vorstellungsgespräch, often also called Bewerbungsgespräch in German) is usually the first face-to-face contact with the company. In this interview, the person responsible from the personnel department, or in smaller companies, often the future manager personally, wants to find out whether you are suitable for work in the company. Prepare thoroughly and in good time before your appointment.

Preparing for the interview

  • Familiarise yourself with what the company does: What does this company produce or what services does it offer?
  • Think about what challenges you could face.
  • What salary expectations do you want to get across? What could compensate for a lower starting salary (e.g. promotion prospects, career development training offerings or other benefits)?
  • Get appropriate clothing in order on the evening before. That will help you avoid additional time pressure in the morning.
  • Prepare all of the required documentation in good time before the interview, for example CVGerman text, certificates, written documents and appointment book.
  • Allow yourself enough time for travel to the interview

What happens in the interview

  • In your excitement, do not forget to greet the interviewer and introduce yourself.
  • Shake the interviewer’s hand, but only when s/he extends a hand to you.
  • Wait until you are offered a seat and keep your documents in your hand to start.
  • Try to remain natural and relaxed. Do not fold your arms - that often comes across as dismissive and distanced.
  • Look towards your interviewer and avoid looking away, especially if there are unpleasant questions.
  • At the end of the interview, ask when you can expect to hear from them. Also ask for feedback on your performance. You may be able to take away useful tips for the next interview and you will know exactly how you came across.
  • Thank the interviewer at the end for the interview.

You may also want to think about some answers to questions regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Never say in an interview that you have no weaknesses - nobody is without fault. Of course, you should also not give any weaknesses that would be frowned upon in the job for which you are applying (e.g. untidiness if you are applying to be a secretary, lack of punctuality if you are applying to be a mail carrier).

Be yourself in the interview. If you dissimulate and only give the answers that may possibly be “what they want”, the person across from you will soon see through it and will think poorly of it. You can definitely score better with honesty and authenticity.

Rules on how to behave

You should make sure you do the following:

  • Prepare well. For example, think about your motivation for the job, your strengths and weaknesses. Research the most essential information about the company. You can then go into the interview relaxed and calm.
  • Make sure you dress appropriately (not “overdressed”, not “underdressed” and not too suggestive).
  • Be to the point, friendly, and above all, remain authentic (don’t dissimulate, be yourself).
  • Definitely turn off your mobile phone. There is hardly anything more disruptive than the shrill sound of a mobile phone when you are presenting yourself.
  • Show interest in the person across from you and don’t be too centred on yourself. Present your strengths in terms of how they will benefit the company (e.g. “You will benefit from my excellent language skills” instead of “I can speak four foreign languages”).
  • Listen carefully. Come across as interested. Ask questions too (for example, on points that have not yet been addressed).
  • Remain friendly and courteous even if you think that your interviewer is not interested in working with you.

You should not:

  • Act like a supplicant when introducing yourself. Rather, confidently present your skills, knowledge and strengths as ways you can be a good worker for the company.
  • Personnel managers do not necessarily have the same tastes as you and may be bothered by loud hair colours or makeup or too much perfume. Therefore, dress “normally”.
  • You should neither deluge the person across from you with words, nor should you say nothing out of reverence or shyness. Do not talk too quickly. Always answer questions.
  • Never malign former colleagues, other companies, etc. Negative assertions are always bad. Try to find something positive in every situation.
  • Do not make any excessive salary demands; instead, familiarise yourself in advance about what is standard pay in the industry.

Interview expenses

Information about the circumstances under which costs incurred by an applicant (interview costs, e.g. travel costs) can be reimbursed when applying for a position can be found at the website of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

Further links

Translated by the European Commission
Last update: 1 January 2023

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