What interviewing in German taught me

There were three things I wish my parents would have warned me about before I entered the adult world. One: I have to decide what meals I want to eat every day for the rest of my life. Two: After said eating, there will always, and I mean always, be an endless supply of dishes waiting to be cleaned. And three: Interviews, whether for a job or for education, are essential parts of application processes where one should be prepared for both the best and worst. 

As a current sophomore at Temple University, I have had my fair share of interviews throughout these past semesters. Whether it was interning for a start-up or applying for an on-campus job, the interview was always the part that I dreaded the most. If I am being honest, I can sometimes come off as a shy and quiet person, so interviewing one-on-one with a qualified individual always intimidated me. What if they do not like my personality? Am I coming on too strong or are my answers too cliche? What if I never, ever land an internship? Such questions always raced through my mind prior to each interview, along with butterflies in my stomach and internal attempts to boost my confidence. 

Since then, I have gained some confidence in my ability to sell myself and my ability to accept the reality that not every interview means a job acceptance. Nevertheless, such feelings soon arose again in the last few weeks. As a student studying abroad in Germany, I had never planned to work or volunteer while abroad. However, upon scrolling through the internet during my days in isolation, I came across an online organization that matches current students with so-called “Mentors” that help the students out with certain school subjects. The whole program was online and seeing that English was one of the subjects, I immediately applied and provided my contact information. Though I had not planned to volunteer during my time abroad, I realized that an opportunity like this would be a great way to help out students that need it the most while also experiencing what it is like to work in an education-centered job or program.

A few weeks later, an email from the company appeared in my inbox. Naturally, you can guess what was next to come: The interview. Unlike other interviews I had completed before, this time I would have to introduce myself, answer questions, and ask questions all in German. At this point, I thought my German was good enough to participate in an interview; nevertheless, the small and annoying voice in my head that constantly filled me with anxiety and insecurity told me that I would inevitably fail. Despite my anxieties, I decided to prepare for my interview by writing down possible questions and responding to them out loud in German. 

A photo showing three German language learning books on a desk.
My several German language books

Even with all my preparation, by the time the day finally arrived, some of my nerves were still more than the present. Yet by the time I entered the Zoom room and turned on my camera, all of those feelings of doubt and negativity swiftly went down the drain. The entire process was open, friendly, and relaxing. Even when I did not feel like it, I attempted to speak up and be confident when answering questions or case studies the interviewer presented. By the end of the interview, I felt more than confident in my ability to speak German and my confidence overall. 

Though it can sometimes feel like a big risk to try something new while abroad, whether that be interviewing for a certain job or taking the time to speak with others in their native language, I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone. At the end of the day, you have nothing to lose and all the experience to gain. 

Interested in studying on a Temple Exchange program? Check out all of the exchange programs here!

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