Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration

Working How to Apply for a Job in Germany

The selection process for the filling of a post is usually structured in the stages pre-selection, possibly an aptitude test or assessment center as well as a job interview. At each stage of the selection process, you must convince the employer to be the right candidate.

How to Apply for a Job in Germany - Hamburg Welcome Portal

1. Preparation

First of all, it is highly recommended to study the job description carefully. Here you will find statements about the company, a description of the tasks, requirements for the applicants as well as the application period and information about submitting the application.

If you start making preparations for your application, it is important that you keep the period of the job offer in mind. Applications which are not received prior to the specified deadline are generally not included in the selection procedure. In addition, you should consider the application manner requested by the employer. The options here range from online via an application form through the application by e-mail to shipment by mail.

2. Application Documents

The aim of your application is to convince the employer that you are the right person for the vacant position. The application documents consist of a motivation letter, your curriculum vitae (CV), as well as additional attachments such as certificates and references. Your application is the business card of your person, so you should create a professional, competent and authentic impression of yourself.

Motivation letter

In the motivation letter you outline your skills and experience that match the job requirements. On the website “europass” you can find a template for the creation of the motivation letter that provides reference points for the design.

Here are some key questions and valuable tips:

  • What motivates you to work for the company / in the specific position?
  • What makes you the right candidate for the position? What qualifies you most for the job?
  • Support your statements with concrete examples and references to your professional career.
  • Focus on the aspects of your education and professional experience that are relevant to the intended job.
  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation must be flawless (or as a language beginner in the best possible way).
  • Each application requires an individual motivation letter, which should refer to the requirements in the job vacancy notice.
  • The motivation letter should not be longer than one DIN A4 page, as far as this is possible.
  • Check whether the motivation letter contains all information asked for by the job vacancy notice, such as your earliest date of entry or the desired salary level.

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

In the curriculum vitae you provide an overview of your personal background. As companies generally receive a high number of applications, a clear and comprehensible structure is crucial in this respect. In Germany, a tabular form has been established, which is divided into categories such as professional experience, school and vocational training, academic education, etc.

vergrößern Bewerbungsschreiben / Job Applications (Bild: © Daniel Berkmann / Fotolia) It is common to sort the data in a reverse chronological order. This means that the current data comes first (because these are the most important for employers). The “europass” website provides samples and supports you with an online tool to present your qualifications and competencies in a structured and comprehensible manner.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep your CV up to date.
  • Check your CV carefully to see if it meets the required profile. The qualifications particularly relevant to the workplace should stand out. Please do not hesitate to delete information that is too far in the past or not relevant for your application.
  • All kind of experience, qualifications or skills shown in the CV must be documented by certificates.


The relevant qualifications for the workplace, which you have pointed out in the CV, should be supported by evidence. Please enclose the documents as a copy to the application.
Professional experience should be demonstrated, for example, by work certificates.

  • Acquired qualifications should be documented with certificates from vocational training or school or university.
  • In order to make your documents comprehensible, you should let your most relevant testimonies be translated into German by a sworn interpreter. In addition, you should have already checked the equivalence of your qualifications acquired abroad and informed the company of the results of the recognition procedure.
  • In some professions, such as designers or journalists, it is common to demonstrate your capabilities with work samples.

3. Aptitude Test / Assessment Center

If your application meets the requirements of the workplace, you may receive an invitation to an aptitude test or assessment center (this depends on whether the employer is using the aptitude test or the assessment center in the selection process). These are instruments for personnel selection, which are used to test the suitability for the workplace on the basis of scientific methods.

Aptitude test

Aptitude tests are used to compare your abilities and knowledge in a cross-comparison with the other applicants by means of standardized tests and exercises and to match your skills with the requirements of the profession. The test may take up to a few hours. The test is carried out either online from home or in the facilities of the company at the PC or in writing. In doing so, you have to solve tasks from a wide range of categories, such as general knowledge, language, mathematics, logical thinking, etc. The test is tailored to the specific profile of the profession.

Assessment Center (AC)

The Assessment Center is often used for the allocation of management positions. It consists of several tasks, both written and oral. The test duration of an AC can be up to three days. Tasks of an assessment center could be: Write an essay, create a presentation, job-specific tasks, group work as well as discussions with other participants. Sometimes a simulated critical work situation (“critical incident”) is also part of the test in order to check how you react under pressure. After the assessment center, the job interview usually follows.

4. Job Interview

If you have successfully passed the aptitude test or the assessment center, you will receive an invitation to the interview.

With the interview, the company wants to get to know you personally. Be prepared for questions about your personal background, your motivation, your understanding of the job and company, and how you meet the required skills for the workplace.

  • Please inform yourself in advance about the company.
  • Give specific examples for your qualifications relevant to the workplace, e.g. by training or study contents, professional experience, further training, etc.
  • Pay attention to an appropriate appearance.
  • In most cases, you will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview. It is recommended to make a list prior to the interview. Many questions will be clarified during the conversation, the remaining ones you can ask additionally.

5. The Decision

After the interview, you receive a binding confirmation or cancellation from the company. If the company wants to hire you, you will receive an employment contract. In this you will find your future income as well as rights and duties as an employee of the company. If everything suits your needs, send the signed contract back to the company.

Further Information

Do you need assistance with writing an application or preparing for an interview? The team of your way:make it in Hamburg will help you.