Getting Hired in Germany, Part III

Interview Costs

In the last two sections, I argued against certain German practices in job application procedures. I should also mention that – once a decision has been made to grant a candidate an interview, a German company will pay the (reasonable) travel and accommodations costs of the candidate incurred in attending at the interview. There is some debate as to whether this isn’t required by law under the German Civil Code. In any event, it is virtually always done here.

That isn’t always the case in North America – indeed, interview expenses are usually entirely negotiable. Where there is a significant power disparity between employer and candidate (i.e. candidate is desperate), the costs are unlikely to be borne by the employer. Where the candidate is desired, or the employer is just anxious to leave a good impression on those it deals with, these costs aren’t even an issue (being mostly tax-deductible anyway). The employer pays flight and hotel costs and doesn’t think twice about it.

I like the German model. It shows a certain commitment. Don’t call me in for an interview unless you’re willing to put some cash down to compensate me for my costs in getting there. I’ve taken part in meaningless interviews in North America at my expense – but rarely ever in Germany. At least those meaningless German interviews have been subsidized by large law and consulting firms. From my North-American perspective, as a highly-qualified candidate, I don’t want to waste time with you unless we have a good reason to talk, and I can’t see why you might want to waste your time with me.

In my next post – conditional upon Andrew’s quarantine – I’d like to talk about German Zeugnissprache – the comments on letters of reference that tell you whether a candidate is an alcoholic, harasses other employees sexually, or simply shows up on time. All of which will definitely stop you from getting hired here in Germany…

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