In France, as in most countries, the job interview is a critical opportunity to showcase your strengths and it is often the deciding factor as to whether you will win the position.
Creating a Good Impression in a French Job Interview
When it comes to making a good impression, certain things are universal. In France, just as elsewhere, it is of utmost importance that you arrive on time, that you are well-groomed and appropriately dressed, and that you’re are adequately prepared to discuss your qualifications.
That said, certain cultural issues and sensitivities can arise in the French interview context that non-French job seekers may not be aware of. Anyone applying for a job in France should get familiar with these cultural quirks before the interview or risk sending a career-killing message to potential employer.
- Address your interviewer as Madame or Monsieur. In Anglophone countries, it’s not uncommon to use someone’s first name in a professional context, even if you’ve just met. In France, you must simply say Madame or Monsieur unless invited otherwise.
- Always use the formal “vous” never “tu” In the same vein, you should always speak formally, even with people younger than you, unless the interviewer invites you to “tutoyer.” (Look here for more on “tu” and “vous” rules).
- No kisses in greeting. There’s lots of kissing in France, but not in a Covid area. In France, greet a potential employer with a nod and certainly not “la bise.”
- Be prepared to answer personal questions. It may come as a surprise to some non-French job applicants, particularly Americans, that it is acceptable for an employer to ask about your état civil (marital status) or whether you have children. If you’ve mentioned certain pastimes and interests (loisirs et centres d’intérêt) that you enjoy on your CV, you may expect a potential employer to ask about these.
- Cut the chit-chat. Other cultures may consider a bit of small talk acceptable at a job interview. In France, however, discussing anything other than topics relevant to the job is considered unprofessional and may even suggests that you’re not serious.
French Job Interview Language
No matter your industry, there are several phrases that you can reasonably anticipate hearing in a French job interview. Get familiar with these 12 phrases and prepare your responses accordingly.
• Parlez-moi de vous.
(Tell me about yourself).
(Why are your motivations for this position?)
• Pourquoi voulez-vous travailler dans notre entreprise?
(Why do you want to work for our company?)
• Que savez-vous de notre société?
(What do you know of our company?)
• Quel est votre parcours professionel?
(What is your work history?)
• Quelle expérience avez-vous dans ce domaine?
(What is your experience in this field?)
• Pourquoi pensez-vous que nous devrions vous embaucher?
(Why do you think we should we hire you?)
• Quelles langues parlez-vous?
(What languages do you speak?)
• Quel est votre niveau d’aisance en anglais ou allemand?
(What is your fluency level in English or German?)
• Quels sont vos objectifs de carrière?
(What are your career objectives?)
• A combien s’élevait votre ancien salaire?
(What was your former salary?)
• Quelles sont vos prétentions salariales?
(What do you expect your new salary to be?)
• Quand êtes-vous disponible pour commencer?
(When are you available to start?)
Would you like to have a private French lesson in Paris to help you prepare for a French job interview? We will design a special course tailored to your needs and industry.
- a resume : un CV
- a cover letter : une lettre de motivation
- a job interview : un entretien d’embauche
- a job : un emploi
- a handshake : une poignée de main
- a company : une entreprise
- a career : une carrière
- a salary : un salaire
- your availabilities : vos disponibilités
- my current job : mon poste actuel
- to hire : embaucher
- to train : former