Job application tips

If you have found a job vacancy at Saarland University that you are interested in, then why not apply? We'd love to hear from you!

Your application will give us a first impression of you as a potential employee. We will take a careful look at your application to see whether your knowledge, skills and experience fit well with the job you're applying for. Putting together a good job application takes time, but it's time well spent. 

We've put together a list of tips that will help you prepare a job application that gets you noticed and will help you make the best possible impression at interview. 

The very first thing you need to do is save a copy of the job listing because we remove them from the website once the application deadline has closed. You will probably want to refer to the original job advertisement when preparing for interview. 

Your application portfolio

Each job will have its own special requirements in terms of experience, knowledge and skills. But even if you don't match all the specified requirements exactly, you may still be the right person for that position. 

When we look at your application, we'll take your entire profile into account. Your work experience, professional skills and expertise are important, but so are your motivation and enthusiasm for the job being offered. To help you present yourself in the best possible light, we have compiled a list of the important components that you should include in your application. 

Important note: Please merge all your application documents into a single PDF file. This file must not exceed 20 MB in size, as this is the maximum email attachment size for many email programs. Free tools to merge several files into a single PDF document are available on the internet. To find them, simply type 'merge PDF' into your search engine. If the size of the merged file is greater than 20 MB (possibly because you made high-resolution scans of your documents), these PDF converter tools will usually allow you to compress the size of the merged file. 

Cover letter

The cover letter is usually the first thing that managers read and it gives them their first impression of an applicant. Your cover letter should not simply duplicate the content of your CV but should complement it. The focus of your cover letter should be on communicating your motivation and your understanding of the role you are applying for and why you are the right candidate for the job. We're also looking for some insight into you as a person. Here are some of questions that you might want to address in your cover letter: 

  • Why do you want this particular role? 

  • Why do you want to work at Saarland University? 

  • Why are you the right person for this position? 

  • What previous professional experience do you have that makes you the right candidate for this role? 

  • What are your strengths and talents? 

  • What are your interests? 

  • What inspires or motivates you?  

  • Do you have to work your notice period? What is your earliest date you can start with us? 

Read the description of the job vacancy carefully and, wherever possible, make clear reference to the requirements specified in it.  

Here are a few other points to remember when drafting your cover letter: 

  • Ideally, your cover letter should not exceed one side of A4. Your letter should offer a clear and concise picture of you as a candidate and should contain all the information that we need to know. 

  • Write in a succinct and professional manner. Check your spelling and grammar. To err is human, but a cover letter full of misspelled words and careless mistakes will never make a good impression. 

  • Make sure you address the cover letter correctly, include a meaningful subject line (and reference number) and don't forget the date.  

  • Layout your letter clearly. Choose an attractive but professional layout for your letter; don't make it too complex or showy. 

  • Sign your letter. A scanned image of your signature is sufficient. 

CV / resume

Your CV should contain your personal information and should present your most relevant professional experience and career progression in a clear and well-structured way. We suggest structuring your CV so that it has sections covering work experience, academic background and other skills. Check again that your CV clearly shows that you have the qualifications required for the role being advertised. Here are some additional tips on what to include in and how to structure your CV: 

  • Present your information in tabular form and in reverse chronological order. 

  • Structure your CV into sections, such as: 

  • Work experience 

  • Education 

  • Other skills (e.g. languages, IT) 

  • International experience 

  • Other interests (e.g. voluntary work) 

  • Provide your contact details (including a telephone number) 

  • Try to keep the length of your CV to no more than two pages. Focus on presenting information that is relevant to the advertised role. 

  • Explain any gaps in your CV in your cover letter or be prepared to answer questions about them at interview. 

  • You are not required to provide information about other members of your family, nor are you required to specify your marital status or gender. You may include a photo if you wish, but there is no requirement to do so. Whether or not you decide to include such information will not affect how your application is assessed. 

  • Signature: As with the cover letter, a scanned image of your signature is sufficient. 

Additional documents

Your application should also include copies of your academic, vocational and professional certificates. Without these documents your candidate profile will be incomplete. Please remember to include all relevant supporting documents in your application PDF file. Examples of supporting documents are school leaving certificates, degree certificates, proof of other additional certificates, employment references and proof of relevant periods abroad. Check that the dates in your CV match the dates specified on these documents. 

List of the additional documents to be included in your application: 

  • School leaving certificates, degree certificates and other relevant documents that show that you are qualified for the role as advertised 

  • Relevant employment references 

  • If you have not yet completed your vocational training or academic studies, please include your current transcript of records or your last report card. 

The interview

We were impressed by your application and would now like to get to know you better by inviting you to interview. To give you a better idea of what the interview process involves, we've compiled some useful information on interview preparation, the structure of a typical interview and what happens afterwards. 


Before the interview

The purpose of the interview is to give both parties the opportunity to get to know each other a little better. The interview allows us to find out more about you and gives you the chance to ask us about the position advertised, working at the university or about the university in general. To make best use of the time available at interview, it's a good idea to go over any questions you may have ahead of time. What else would you like to know beyond the information provided in the job advertisement?   

We don't expect you to have memorized all of the key facts and figures relating to the university, but it's not a bad idea to find out something about the university in advance so that you have a fuller picture of the role you are applying for and your future work environment. The most important information about the university as an employer can be found in the careers section of the university website. Additional information is available on the university's website and you should also consult the divisional, departmental or institutional website relevant to the position you are applying for. The more background information you gather, the easier it will be for you to ask detailed questions and actively engage with your interviewers. Feel free to make notes in advance and bring them to the interview – it shows us that you have prepared well for the interview. It is becoming more common for us to ask interviewees to complete a task or give a short presentation as part of the interview process, as this helps us to assess their skill set more accurately. If this will form part of your interview, we'll notify you in good time so that you have enough time to prepare. If you don't receive any such notification from us, you won't need to make any additional preparations.  

The interview also gives us an important opportunity to get to know you better. To help you prepare for the interview, try answering the following questions: 

  • Why are you interested in this particular role? What aspects of the job are you particularly enthusiastic about? Have you already got a clear idea of what the role involves? 

  • Why are you the right person for the job? 

  • When you think about Saarland University, what comes to mind? 

  • What do you expect from Saarland University as an employer? 

  • How would someone who knows you well describe you? 

  • Have you had to face a particular challenge in your career or during your education. How did you deal with it? 

  • Tell us about a success story that has helped to shape who you are? 

  • How do you handle the situation if you have made a mistake? 

  • Do you have any particular strengths or weaknesses? How do you use them or deal with them? 

  • What is important to you in teamwork and why? 

  • Which of the skills specified in the job advertisement do you already have? Which skills do you still need to acquire? 

Good luck with your interview preparation. We're looking forward to meeting you! 

During the interview

At the start of the interview, the interviewers will usually introduce themselves and briefly say something about their roles and responsibilities at the university. You will then have an opportunity to introduce yourself. We will then start the main part of the interview by giving you a brief overview of the university, our work and the role you are applying for. If you have been asked to provide us with a sample of your work or give a presentation, this will also be included at this stage of the interview. We will then move on to questions designed to learn more about your professional skills and qualities and about you as a person. Don't be afraid to ask us questions so that you get a clear idea of the what the job entails and a better picture of the university as an employer.  

A job interview is a stressful situation, but try to remain true to yourself and answer honestly. You might feel tempted to embellish your experience or expertise to improve your chances of being hired. But in nearly all cases, it's better to be open and honest. That's of far more value to us than an overly polished account of yourself. We want to get a good understanding of you as a person so that you can hopefully join us as part of our team, that's why we value transparency and authenticity. The diversity of our workforce and the unique contribution that each employee makes are important to us and we want you to feel comfortable in the interview so that you can communicate openly with us right from the start. 

  • Here are a few tips on how to make your interview a success: 

  • Dress appropriately and wear clothes you feel comfortable in. 

  • Be yourself! 

  • Try not to respond to questions with set phrases and clichés. 

  • Listen carefully to the questions being asked. 

  • Answer each question as accurately as you can and try not to digress. 

  • Use specific examples when describing your skills and experience. 

  • Use the interview as an opportunity to ask questions. 

  • Make reference to the information contained in the the original job positing. 

  • Take notes during the interview so that you don't forget important points or if there's something you want to clarify. 

  • Ask the interviewing panel when you can expect to hear back after the interview. 

After the interview

The interviewers will need some time after the interview to discuss their impressions and to choose the successful candidate. 

If any questions arise after the interview, you can contact the person mentioned in the job advertisement. Please notify us if there is any change in your situation and you would like to withdraw your application. 

How to prepare for an online video interview

(Kopie 4)

We conduct online job interviews using Microsoft Teams. We will schedule a meeting in MS Teams and then send you an email invitation containing a secure link to the online interview session. Please click on the link at the agreed time. You do not need to install MS Teams or create an account in order to join the remote interview, you can simply access the session from your web browser. To make sure that everything is working properly, we suggest connecting to the interview session a few minutes before the scheduled start time. This might mean that you have to wait in the virtual waiting room for a short period. Once all the participants have joined the meeting, you will be automatically transferred from the waiting room to the online interview session and the meeting can begin. 

Here are a few tips on how to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible: 

Preparing for an online interview 

  • Make sure that your computer is equipped with a microphone and speakers. If not, check whether you can connect a headset with a microphone. 

  • Check your camera settings. Ideally, the camera should be at eye level. 

  • Make sure you have appropriate lighting conditions for your video interview. It is important that your interviewers can see you clearly. 

  • Make sure that you are sitting in a quiet location and that you will be undisturbed for the duration of the interview. 

  • Wear the same clothes that you would choose for an in-person interview. 

  • Keep your documents and notes close at hand. 

  • Have something to drink nearby. 

  • As far as possible, make sure your internet connection is stable. If possible, connect your device via a LAN cable rather than using WiFi. 

Conducting the interview 

  • Using the link provided, connect to the online session a few minutes before the scheduled start of the interview. This will give you time to check that your microphone is working and that the camera is properly positioned. 

  • Switch on your camera and leave it on throughout the interview. 

  • To prevent noise disturbances, mute your microphone when you are not speaking. 

  • Sometimes you may experience delays in sound transmission. To avoid interrupting your interviewer, make sure he or she has finished speaking before you respond. 

Of course, even the best preparation can't protect you from unforeseen circumstances or technical issues, such as an unstable internet connection or someone ringing the doorbell.  Don't panic, these things can happen. If you are having internet connection issues, please call or message one of the interview participants. If you are disturbed or distracted by background noises, simply apologize and carry on with what you were saying.