-’ You’re sure ? Why shouldn’t I start showing them some pictures of my achievements ?’ Gerald Adler looked at his coach, Peter, ’In the US it’s something we do all the time, I can tell you’, he added with a broad smile. -’ Yeah, in The US, but here you are in Germany and the interview is your only chance to convince them that they need you. It’s crucial that you focus on what you can do for the company, you understand ?’ As a job coach, Peter Baumgartner knew quite well how to prepare applicants for an interview, some basic elements making the difference, in particular when foreigners were looking for a job here. – ’Don’t be late, not even one minute, but don’t arrive too early either’, was always his first piece of advice. Peter looked at Gerald’s CV before adding ’I can see some gaps in your resume, be prepared to be asked for some explanations, you may know that a year-long round-the-world trip is not particularly valued in Germany where we prefer stability to flexibility.’ Gerald stopped smiling, every word his coach said made him feel further away from home. Great grandson of German-born American architect, Dankmar Adler, he had always felt attracted to the German constructions, in particular in glass. He had fallen in love the first time he had seen the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin, a transparent canopy, so beautiful ! Now the same contractor was looking for an architect specialized in glass. This ’once in a lifetime’ opportunity had urged Gerald to apply. – ’Something else, dear Gerald, don’t talk about money unless they do. Most Germans feel very uncomfortable talking about it’. ’Thanks for telling me, not like in The States where we even like the smell of it’, he laughed. -’But tell me, is it true that HR people in Germany are not exactly looking for the best candidate but are instead more worried about not being blamed themselves for mistakes ?’ Peter looked surprised, before admitting that this was not entirely false. -’If in Germany you are the best candidate for the job, but nevertheless with some dark periods in your CV, HR may reject you’. ’Better safe than sorry’ is their motto, in particular for foreigners, however high theirjob level. ’You’re kidding man ?’ —’No I’m not, and by the way, I was watching your clothes, ok for today, but for an interview you should dress as conservatively as you can. Jacket and tie, even for an architect. You know Gerald, your success here will depend on how well you adapt to the German culture and work habits’.
In Germany HR people are seldom members of boards meaning that the HR departments often attract people who are hesitant about risk and want to play it safe. ’Unfamiliar’ equals ’dangerous’ to people with this ’safe’ mind-set. Gerald could try to reassure HR staff by talking of his German-born great grandfather’s architectural work. Some recommendations by mutual contacts could be very useful too. And most important, Gerald has to adapt to the German work habits, as his coach Peter has so accurately put it.