1. Application Checklist

Take the time to prepare yourself comprehensively and to deal specifically with the following points:


HR managers pay particular attention to the consistency of CVs and the content of job references. Gaps or weaknesses in the CV require a comprehensible explanation and should be answered honestly.


The industry and product environment as well as the corporate culture should be fitting and attractive for applicants. Identification with the company’s products and services forms the basis for  a long-term cooperation. Information about the company should definitely be obtained before the interview (size, corporate purpose, culture, structures, innovations, internationality, etc.). Use various sources for this, such as company websites, press reports, information from networks, etc. The question “What do you know about our company?” is part of almost every job interview.


Clothing suitable for the position, a well-groomed and a confident appearance are highly recommended. Choose an outfit in which you feel comfortable and which reflects your own personality.

For instance, a banking, finance, consulting and insurance environment requires a suit and tie for men and an outfit suitable for business, such as a pantsuit, a classic skirt with blazer or a dress for women. Choose discreet make-up and discreet jewelry as well as an appropriate hairstyle. Clearly arranged bags are suitable as accessories, in which documents or application folders in A4 format also acceptable.

For a technical or creative environment, dark trousers or elegant jeans, combined with a shirt/blouse and possibly a jacket are suitable.


The salary is usually based on your last income. Benefits of the company, such as cars for private use, pension provision, a budget for further education and training, food and travel allowances, supplementary health insurance, bonuses, overtime pay out, and much more must also be taken into account. Collective labour agreements and salary tables by industry can serve as a guide. Be prepared to negotiate.



The photo is an important element of the application documents. Sometimes, it unconsciously influences the decision-maker to invite an applicant to an interview or not. The size of the photo should be chosen so that it fits in well with the application documents. Professionally produced photos are preferable to passport photos or snapshots.

By the way: Application photos are not common in the Anglo-American region. When applying abroad, it is advisable to obtain information in advance about the customary form of application in the country.


Personal information includes first and last name, home address, telephone number (under which the recruiter can reach you) and your e-mail address.

In addition, the date of birth, marital status (married/unmarried), children (number and year of birth) and citizenship must be provided. In the case of a served military or civilian service, it is recommended to add this information as well.

The data should be listed in tabular format.


List the educational steps in chronological order, the most recent should be mentioned first. Emphasize awards and above-average achievements. Pay attention to the form, because quality is more important than quantity! Always keep a clear overview.


Start with the last or most recent employment relationship. Enter the names of the companies, the place of employment and the job or position title of your previous employment relationships. Describe your area of responsibility and your tasks in keywords. The dates should be given in the form MM/YYYY – this applies to all dates in the CV if it is meaningful and possible. If you have changed jobs very frequently, you should group similar activities.


In the case of in-service training activities, such as seminars, courses, workshops, it is sufficient to indicate the year. For longer training courses, it is recommended to provide the hours worked per week.


Attach all professionally relevant knowledge and skills that you have acquired. This includes, for example, language and IT skills (including level), driver’s license, etc. Special leisure or voluntary activities can also be mentioned here.


The cover letter should incite curiosity. It must be clear that you are the right candidate for the advertised position and that you are appropriately motivated.

In the subject line you indicate the position for which you are applying. In the introductory part of the cover letter you must arouse the interest and curiosity of the reader with the help of an introductory sentence. In the body, you briefly describe your qualifications and experience (successes and achievements), which are in relation to the requirements of the targeted position. In the conclusion, you express your confidence and anticipation of a personal interview and close with a friendly greeting.

Provide your contact information and observe the usual etiquette. Follow the general rules of spelling, grammar and capitalization.


As an employee you have the legal right to a job reference. However, you must expressly request that the certificate be issued. The employer states the appreciation to the employee by the design and formulation of the certificate.

The wording of the job reference must be truthful and benevolent. In addition to the personal details and the type and duration of employment, the qualified job reference includes detailed information on all essential tasks in the correct order (the most important aspects first).

In addition, the certificate contains an assessment of performance (description of special knowledge and skills, expertise, concrete successes, information on further training, assessment of motivation, working methods and leadership skills, presentation of personal commitment and loyalty, assessment of behaviour towards superiors, colleagues and customers). The reason for termination may not be stated in the certificate, with the exception of “dismissal for operational reasons”.

Please note that poor evaluations can hinder your professional progress. Therefore, check the wording in your job reference carefully. If necessary, you can ask your former employer to make corrections.

The terms always, at any time, in any respect, during the entire period of employment etc. may sound exaggerated, but are of great importance to an educated reader. If these attributes are missing, this will be interpreted as a shortcoming. The terms on the whole, in general, in essence, etc. are considered negative.

Brief indications of appreciation or the absence of appreciation, regrets and good wishes for the future express disdain.

The following points must not be mentioned directly in the job reference: Salary, criminal record, illness, absences, disabilities or private involvement (union, party or religious affiliation).



The first impression counts: arrive punctually and well prepared for your appointment. Introduce yourself with your first and last name and speak clearly and at an appropriate volume. Maintain eye contact, especially when you are addressed. Your handshake should be neither too firm nor too soft. You may of course accept drinks.


Afterwards, the company usually introduces itself and you receive important information. Listen carefully and take notes if necessary. If you have any questions, ask them – HR managers appreciate your interest in the company.


Present your personal development in a clear and concise manner. A mere listing of the respective positions is not enough. The company should have a detailed overview of your area of responsibility and your qualifications. In addition, your presentation should be in line with the job description. It is therefore particularly worth mentioning experience relevant to the position in question. Also consider the following points:

  • Do not lose track and make your presentation interesting, clarify some points with examples.
  • Describe your responsibilities and do not evaluate them.
  • Stay realistic and do not exaggerate.
  • Do not use negative formulations
  • Ask questions about the position and company during the interview

By asking qualified questions, you signal both interest in the position and your preparation and serious consideration of the company as a potential employer. It will also help you to decide whether the position and company are the right choice for you.

Some examples of possible questions: Why does the position become vacant? Are there development prospects within the company? How do the reporting lines run within the company? Where is the task organizationally located?

Examples of questions about the area of responsibility/activity: what are the main tasks? Which goals are to be achieved? Questions about working time (flexible working hours)? How would you describe the corporate culture?


A certain body language, a confident walk, eye contact and a firm handshake are usually well received by the other person, and in some cases may also increase the sympathy value.

But it is even more important to be authentic in conversation and to remain true to yourself.


Human resources managers usually conduct a telephone interview before arranging a personal meeting. Details (salary, desired qualifications, place of employment, start date) are discussed in advance to make the application process efficient for both sides. In this context, a professionally discussed email address is recommended.