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The Reliable People

….Or Why Headhunting in Germany Might Be Easier Than Elsewhere

In my last article, I was highlighting why recruitment in Germany might be harder than in other countries. However, as with all things, the situation is not as clear as it might seem and there are certain interesting characteristics most German candidates possess that might make the recruiting process easier than in other countries.


As with all things, it is easiest to stick with clichés in the beginning, because some of them are actually partly true.

Two true German clichés that make the whole process a whole lot easier are both punctuality and reliability.

If you schedule a call with a German candidate, you can be up to 99% sure they will a) wait for your call and b) answer the phone. As for scheduled Skype conversations and interviews, you can rely on your German candidate to be there no matter what, possibly even ten minutes early. This is a fantastic characteristic for you as a recruiter who depends on the correct behavior of your candidate.

At the same time, however, this includes an obligation. If you tell a German candidate you will call at 2pm, you should call at 2pm, otherwise there will be a first dent in the relationship.

Why ? Because punctuality in Germany is not a matter of choice or personal preference, it is a deeply appreciated value. It does not only entail that you are punctual, but that you are reliable, organised and that you make this phone call, Skype interview or face to face conversation your priority. It therefore is a matter of being seen as a competent and qualified employee or trustworthy and reliable partner in the recruitment process, or not.

You could say the matter of punctuality is one that has the potential to build bridges but has at the same the ability of burning them when ignored.

The fact mentioned above should theoretically make the process of recruitment easier, at the same time, it carries the obligation to behave in a punctual and reliable manner towards the candidates yourself. Missing or forgetting calls as well as calling twenty minutes after the scheduled time does not shine a good light on both recruiters and companies in the German view of things.

Let us stay with the clichés while we are at it. Next in line: efficiency.

Most phone calls with German candidates follow a certain pattern.

I give the candidate the information he or she needs, they give me the information I need and then we hang up. The conversation is goal driven and result oriented.

Many candidates even tell me about their salary in the beginning so “we don´t waste time”.

There are, of course, always exceptions who more or less talk your ear off. But they are rare among the German folk which means you have all you need to schedule your interview after the call.

In this spirit, the general rule in phone interviews with German candidates is never to do small talk before talking business.

As for the conversation itself, be aware: very specific, detailed questions will be asked and your answers will partly determine how competent you are perceived as a recruiter.

I am not entirely sure where the obsession with details comes from and I am not sure I will ever solve the mystery, but make sure to be prepared.

Overall, the great thing about working on the German market is that your candidates generally do what they say. They will tell you if the interview was terrible or if an offer is unacceptable and same goes for the opposite. They will not lie about their salary and normally stay away from playing games.

As hard as it is to get in touch with them sometimes, it makes for a very reliable recruitment process with lots of talks about the weather in between.

It is another mystery to me why, but German candidates generally love to talk about the weather, in Germany, the UK or globally.

The Top Five of frequently asked weather questions:

  1. Is it raining in London?
  2. Is the weather as bad as it is here?
  3. Did you hear, it is supposed to storm/be hot/be really cold
  4. How are you liking the weather over there?
  5. Are your feet still dry?

On that note, happy headhunting in Deutschland.


by Lisa Endriss, Senior Research Associate at ExecutiveSurf

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