More options for applicants

By Madeleine Kern & Robert Zander

In the past, the job interview was THE challenge for candidates on their way to a new job. It was THE way to present yourself to your potential new employer, and it was THE task to master before the job even started. 

But what about the job interview today? 

Due to the changing employer-applicant market, the situation is different. We are in a so-called applicant market, and there is already talk of labor shortages. The applicant’s role has long ceased – interviews no longer serve to introduce yourself as a candidate and present yourself exclusively. Nowadays, it is much more a matter of both parties, i.e. employer and employee, introducing themselves to each other. It is a matter of mutual selection. Of course, candidates today also like to show what they can do and want to present themselves as suitable. Nevertheless, other factors play a decisive role. 

On the one hand, candidates have a certain number of possible jobs due to the current situation in the labor market and can therefore look in the interview to see whether the job and its requirements really suit them. On the other hand, employers must consider whether the applicant can also fulfill the job requirements. This is what is known as job fit.

In addition, it is crucial to determine whether the employer and the employee are a good match in human terms; this is where we talk about culture fit. There is a culture in every company. The employer needs to reveal this as transparently and honestly as possible during the job interview.  This is the only way a candidate can decide whether he or she is a good fit for the company to which he or she has applied. The job interview is therefore one of the most important contact points in the candidate’s journey and significantly contributes to employer branding.

On the other hand, the candidate needs to introduce themselves just as openly and transparently so that the company gets an impression of the kind of person they would hire. If one of the parties misrepresents themselves in the interview, this can have unpleasant consequences, such as a probationary period termination. Transparency and authenticity create trust and only from this can a long-term working relationship develop. 

However, this does not mean that all questions should be asked or discussed freely and, above all, are allowed. Especially on the employer side, there are legal regulations about what may and may not be asked in an interview.  Of course, employers want to know as much as possible from applicants, but the person’s rights must be respected. Thus, questions about the relationship status, family planning, origin, or even the candidate’s religion have no place in the job interview. Failure to do so may result in legal consequences.

Similarly unnecessary as the forbidden questions are unnecessary job interviews, where both sides realize quite quickly that it is not a good fit. These situations can be avoided through detailed job descriptions and honest company presentations on the career page or social media. From the employer’s point of view, it is essential to ensure that the presentation of the job and the company in job advertisements is just as open, honest, and transparent as in the job interview. This way, potential applicants know what to expect, the interview can take place between equals, and a decision can be reached much more quickly.

In summary, the job interview is no longer a one-sided presentation of a candidate who desperately wants a new job, but rather a mutual introduction and testing of whether the company and the applicant fit together. Transparency, authenticity, and honesty from the job advertisement to the job interview are the most important cornerstones in the selection process and thus lead to trusting cooperation on an equal footing.

Großartige Stellenanzeigen | authentisches Employer Branding | professionelle Bewerbungsgespräche – Deine Personalsuche kann mit mir richtig Spaß machen! Visit their website here:


  1. Labor shortage (noun): Arbeitskräftemangel
  2. Suitable (adj.): geeignet
  3. Fulfill (verb): etw. erfüllen
  4. Company culture (noun): Unternehmenskultur
  5. To hire (verb): (jdn.) einstellen
  6. Probationary period (noun): Probezeit 
  7. Equal footing / between equals (phrase): Augenhöhe

Discussion Questions

  1. What was your experience the last time you were interviewed?
  2. Do you think the interview process has changed in recent years?
  3. When you look at a job ad, what specific things do you pay attention to (ex. salary, benefits, working hours, etc.)?

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