Interview in France : 9 things you should know
Mis à jour : août 21
Every country all over the world has his own rules in job interview.
In Asia, employees are used to be modest and humble regarding their true competencies, in the USA, the staff-members are rewarded when they are successful and in Europe, the managers ask their staff to have a good level of general knowledge.
But what is really needed to face a job interview in France?
1 - "Salutation"
During a French interview, you should greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and address them as Madame or Monsieur, unless otherwise instructed. You have to be very formal and avoid all hugs, kisses, “la bise” which are all forbidden and can be considered as rude.
2 - "Vous" or "Tu"
Always use the formal “vous” never “tu”, and use a very formal language.
3 - "Personal Questions"
You may also face to answer some personal questions. As your marital status or if you have children. And you have to be prepared to avoid any surprise. But that doesn’t mean that you have to chit-chat. When you’re asked a personal question, answer it in a basic way - you don’t ever need to overshare.
4 - "Small Talk"
French interviews may have less ‘small talk’ than interviews in other countries.
In France you have to stick on what is written in your CV, but differently (because they've got your CV) : speaking about real experiences and which competencies they bring to you is good.
You can of course speak about your interest and pastime if you have mentioned them in your resume. You should stick to the facts, without weaving in personal stories or going off-topic.
5 - "Interruption"
Also, note that it’s not uncommon for interviewers to interrupt you when you’re speaking.
This isn’t considered rude in France; it’s a sign that the interviewer is listening and interested in what you’re saying.
French professionals might become very spirited in the course of an interview, in a way that you might think is almost antagonistic.
Don’t take it personally, it’s just the way of the French in an office setting.
6 - "Not to ask in the first interview"
Make sure to avoid questions about holidays, benefits, and salary until you’re offered the job. In France and in other cultures, questions like this might be seen as presumptuous before you have an offer in your hand.
These topics will come up at a later point if the company is seriously interested in you as a candidate.
You can end the interview with any follow-up questions that you have.
7 - "The end"
Usually the interviewer will allow time for you to ask questions at the end of your interview.
You’ll probably have questions that pop up during the interview.
Even if you don’t, you should have several questions ready to go that demonstrate your interest in the job.
It’s best to get specific here - instead of asking routine questions that could apply to any company, ask about specific projects or company-specific news or product rollouts.
8 - "Thank you"
Thank the interviewer for their time, and wait until they stand up to do the same.
9 - "Follow up"
After your interview, it's always very good to send an email to say thank you, explain why you were happy to meet the recruiter (if this person has given you a tips, write that you've well noticed this point) and why you are still motivated to work in this company.
To continue this discussion and know more about Job Interviews in France,
come to the workshop organised by Absolutely French
on Tuesday 17th November :
10 cultural differences in interview :
Using theatre games : tips to prepare yourself
With Armelle Perben and François Ledroit
Article written by Camille Lopez, Talent Development Specialist