Interviewing etiquette with German companies
March 12, 2013 9:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm an American interviewing with several companies based in Berlin. These are small Internet companies with fewer than 100 employees. In both cases, the first Skype interview has (seemingly) gone well and I've followed up via email to thank them for the opportunity and reiterate my interest. However, I have not received anything in return after 10+ days. Is this typical? Does silence on their end indicate a lack of interest in proceeding any further? Or should I continue to follow up until I receive an explicit reply, as is typical in the U.S. (in my experience)? You can reach me at if necessary. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would follow up. I can't see following up hurting anyone.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:31 AM on March 12, 2013

I would wait - everything moves slower in Germany, so the timescale would be months, not weeks. From personal experience in Berlin, it can take weeks to get any kind of response for each stage of the process, although with newer, smaller companies it can be very fast.

Having said that, if they didn't tell you when to expect a response, you could ask about that.
posted by DamPots at 9:44 AM on March 12, 2013

I don't know if this is explicitly German, because I have sent thank-you emails and not heard back for a while. Hiring is slow.
posted by radioamy at 10:56 AM on March 12, 2013

However, I have not received anything in return after 10+ days. Is this typical?

Yes. German companies are usually good about sending you a rejection letter if they decide to not hire you, so you at least will know once they've made their decision.

Does silence on their end indicate a lack of interest in proceeding any further?

Not necessarily. German companies take a long time to process their applicant queues. And like I said, if they don't want you and they're not completely incompetent, they'll tell you.

It won't hurt to politely ask when you might expect them to make a decision, but certainly don't go hounding them, unless you don't really want the job after all.
posted by cmonkey at 11:07 AM on March 12, 2013

No need to follow up with more than the one thank you letter you have already sent (unless you get an offer from a competitor). German companies have a much slower view of all communication, especially email, than American and a completely different way of letting you know about decisions. They will contact you with their answer when they make it.

Two points to remember:
- They are not being rude (lack of small talk or, in the case, a response "nice to meet you too" email), they just will not contact you until they have everything they need to say arranged (ie the whole offer or turning you down)

- Germans are punctual (the meeting will start and end on time, you are expected to take your lunch at the appropriate times - do not work through them), but they are not prompt (a simple email can take 3-4 weeks to get a response and a letter 4-6 weeks)
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 12:57 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Anecdata: I recently applied for a position in Berlin (at a large multinational) and had a phone interview with the recruiter. On the phone she said it would be about 3-4 weeks until I knew if I would be moving forward in the process. I finally heard back two months later saying they went with an internal candidate (and I thought the 3-4 week estimate was a long time!). Speaking with German friends, this is apparently quite normal.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:06 PM on March 18, 2013

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