Features of job search in Europe

The developer, with a humanitarian higher, medium English (strong accent and incorrect pronunciation), 15 years of experience in a dozen projects, burdened with family — suddenly decided to find work in Western Europe.

Spent six months. Passed dozens of interviews. In the process of collecting information, the choice of the target country changed several times. In this article I tried to describe personal experience, give advice that (hopefully) will be useful to others.

general review

In Moscow, there has been a “worker market” for many years. A new job can be found in a few days, while choosing from employers (salary, quality of office, conditions, staff ...).

In Europe, the "employer market". There is no shortage of programmers. Any decent place has many candidates. Programmers are needed, but cream is needed. For this, many large companies hold constantly open vacancies followed by multi-stage and long-term selection systems.

IT companies in Europe are larger than in Russia. If in Russia there are many organizationally independent medium-sized companies, in Europe there are many branches of global companies in which all processes are also global, formalized and bureaucratic.

The most general recommendation

Pass more interviews with the target country. Useful in terms of language tugging, office idioms, interview-specific vocabulary.

I do not like the vacancy / company / salary, but I like the country - go ahead, go through a video interview. If the first interview with HR is more or less standard, then from a technical and cultural interview you will learn a lot about people in a given country. You then work in this environment. What is asked, how they are asked, what they react to and how. You can experiment, answer outside the box and see the reaction. This is much better than seeing the shock of future colleagues at the same answer. See the difference in attitude, in goodwill and compatibility in the country.

Always have time to refuse, and the time spent on such an experience will not be wasted. The benefits of more than language courses.

Where is difficult to get through

The situation with places “where not to break through” is fundamentally different from the traditional Soviet / post-Soviet ideas about the “West”. We can say that the situation is exactly the opposite of the “table of ranks”. The higher the cost of the country in the traditional view (London, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Germany) - the easier it is to get there, the greater the shortage of IT specialists for the next startup, stock exchange or bank. And the more these specialists want to escape from there to where it is warm.

My first cultural shock came when a worker in the technical interview in Luxembourg praised me for the advantage of a global company of 60 thousand people - “we have many branches in the world and can be transferred, (further dreamy tone) to PORTUGAL, EG ....”. But after many interviews, I understood him.

The most inaccessible EU countries are Spain, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus. The salary of the signor in Spain is twice as low as Germany, the taxes are the same, the prices are the same, but the competition for places is many times higher (I would rate it as an order of magnitude higher). Because of the climate. Only for vacancies in Spain, I saw the fields of the “cover letter” questionnaire, after which the field “summary”, after which the field “and now 160 characters about ourselves - so that we notice exactly you”. Style “surprise us” ... The

European ideal is to transfer to the southern branch of the corporation while maintaining salaries. If the company is small - move the entire office (many German, British companies do).

You will not be recruited by LinkedIn with a job offer in Spain. In London, the Netherlands, Sweden - every week.

National features

At many large European firms, HR (or its recruitment agency) is based in London. This is the worst option. In addition to difficulties with language understanding (native speakers - fluent speech, jargons, complex turns), get ready for a frankly irritated / contemptuous tone because of your accent, to hang up after the first or second misunderstood question or answer, for boorish dialogues in the style:

- How many you want?
- hhk.
- Ha. And how much do you earn there in Ukraine?
- I now live in Uruguay, not Ukraine. I work for the USA. Before that he worked in Moscow.
- Well, Uruguay ... Is that where it is at all?

Since the time of communication with post-Soviet officials / security officials of the lower level - nowhere else have I encountered anyone behave like that. The Americans, the Irish (the same native speakers) are quite tolerant of accent, language errors and, moreover, will not allow themselves to be ridiculed. For London HR is the norm.

Another feature of London HR - they call for interviews whenever they want and without asking whether it is convenient to speak - they start pouring out questions on the questionnaire. Tone - “Kremlin on the wire”. In Moscow, HR is also called when it comes to it, but at least it is customary to ask whether it is appropriate to speak now. All other HRs of the world first agree on the time of the call by mail, usually the following week.

Occasionally encountered recruiters / managers interviewing from the US - compare favorably with the British. Tolerance to the accent, thanks to Hollywood and YouTube, is a clearer pronunciation, no giggles (although no, once the giggles were on a technical interview, then my experience was greatly praised, but they offered to move a lot on wages). Unlike the Irish, Americans do not look at their education 15 years ago, but at experience. It is important for them that you know how.

Let us turn to the continental, civilized Europeans.

Excellent options - the French-speaking peoples, the Germans. Compatible accent. French-speaking (Belgians, Luxembourgers) are well treated, the Germans are quite similar mentally - they ask the same as the Russians ask, choose the same topics for the conversation. For most English, the average, respectively, speak slowly and simply, no complaints about the language of the interlocutor. You have English broken, they have broken. With Spanish speakers it’s worse, they think differently, there is less mutual understanding, but more positive things are not bad either.

Cultural interview. Behavioral questions

The biggest challenge in a large western company with an Anglo-Saxon corporate culture is the cultural interview. Usually they are conducted by the manager as the last interview, less often by HR with the education of a psychologist as the second interview.

Behavioral questions imply questions “describe the conflicts that arose and how you solved them”, “how do you see your role in the team”, “why do you think you will be useful to the company”, “why should we choose you”, “what do you see your ideal job, and now describe the ideal company, ”“ by whom you see yourself in 5 years ”,“ tell us about your shortcomings ”,“ what motivates you to work ”, all sorts of special questions to confuse and see the reaction.

Without special memorization of typical “approved” behavioral responses, this very cultural difference will make you completely uncultured. Americans themselves learn the answers in order to conform to the “correct” profile set by corporate stereotypes. And the representative of other cultures without training will never fit into the recommended framework.

A simple example. “Tell me about a project from your own experience.”

From the Anglo-Saxon point of view, you should talk about yourself and only about yourself. A little bit about the project, everything else about their achievements. From the point of view of the eastern mentality, sticking out your role in a team that makes a common cause is arrogance and boasting. We (the Germans, too, by the way) in the same situation will tell about the project, the organization of the team, the project. And his own role ... fixed tasks, fit into deadlines, clarified requirements, traveled to communicate with customers ... In essence, did the same as the rest of the team. So, for the Anglo-Saxon - this is the Red Flags , absolutely unacceptable behavior, when a person speaks about the team, and not his role. It is not about socialization, not about solidarity with the team, but about the lack of initiative, irresponsibility, a tendency to travel at the expense of others, etc.

At the same time, to tell in the Russian-speaking cultural environment in the American manner, as I and only I, such a wonderful one, led the project (being at the same time an ordinary member of a large team, not making key decisions, as can be seen from the summary), radically changed the development strategy and put forward decisive decisions ... Avoiding the mention of what the rest of the team did and how ... To put it mildly, they would think that they had an unprecedented boaster with inadequate ChSV. Internal censor does not allow us to tell about ourselves in the American manner.

How correctly (culturally) to answer the question “tell us about conflicts and your experience in conflict resolution”? It can be said that a better resolution of the conflict in communication, in better coordination, in the discussion of the problem, so that it does not arise in the future. In all matters relating to cultural issues - focus on the bright future.

In the conflicts I remembered from the Russian experience, 95% of the time and nerves were spent on figuring out “how this happened, who is to blame for what happened” and only 5% on finding the best way out of the situation. They were not going to fine, dismiss and shoot anyone, but it was necessary to find out. The conflict was resolved convincingly explaining why it happened, the technical overlay that could not be foreseen. Or with the final clarification (sometimes between teams) on whose side the problem and responsibility.

From my experience in teams with American management, the exact opposite is true. 95-100% of the discussion - how to quickly find and implement a solution to the problem. At the same time they don’t look at the past at all, no who, how, when and why.

Think how Americanized a company's corporate culture is. If the interviewer - French or German from the European branch, with an average level of English - can respond closer to our mentality, you will look more natural and most likely understood if the English native speaker or the company is strongly Americanized (this is immediately noticeable by the emphasis on praising the company, its rapid growth and success, with a minimum of details about the essence of the company's business and the essence of the project) - try to switch to the American style of self-presentation.

I highly recommend reading the relevant discussions on quora.com on interviews. A wonderful source of live information on the topic, through the eyes of English-speaking representatives of different cultures, from the interviewee and the interviewee.

Discussion exampleRed Flags by candidates: link .

Technical interviews

The current Party Line in the world of developers - SOLID, Scrum, TDD . Religious dogmas and party recitatives on these magic means need to be known by heart. Patterns can still ask, but not as much as before. They ask about Singleton and “what patterns do you use every day”. Once a former UML silver bullet completely forgotten. The fundamentals of OOP fundamentals are forgotten - inheritance, abstraction, encapsulation, polymorphism , the order of constructor calls (now everything is wrapped in Factory or Builder patterns), once-obligatory cases of calling virtual / overrided methods from the constructor.
Classic questions about SQL are still relevant, incl. if the vacancy is in the clouds withNoSQL . There are questions on ORM .

A common architectural question is InversionOfControl .

From theory - a classic on collections ( Set vs Map, Set vs List, HashSet vs TreeSet, ArrayList vs LinkedList ).

For clouds, virtualization - briefly describe the architecture of microservices.

Questions on technical details of frameworks, on NoSQL have never been.

Technical assignments

There are three types of them:

Online test - olympiad puzzle for algorithms and speed. Sometimes SQL. The quality of the code is not important, just to meet the time and the code passed verification tests on the side of the site.

Homework - puzzle . Too on algorithms, but the decision and the code should be beautiful. Be sure to add coating tests.

Homework on the framework . Practical example, for example web service. Break into several specialized classes. Also - it is necessary to cover the tests (applied to the framework).

If you find an error in the problem (incompatible requirements, in the project skeleton) - never, even so - NEVER add to the solution bugreport. The HR that sent the task will thank you, but after that, in response from technical workers you will see an amazing set of nastiness about your decision.

Two times, foolishly, wrote about noticed bugs, the result is the same. For the first time in the number of nasty things, they wrote “remove in iterator” (actually, a pattern from the textbook, remove for the collection only through the iterator itself and can be called), the second time - that “code with one file” and “no tests”, although I test two days brushed to shine, covering my part of 90%). It is useless to object politely in such cases. The test evaluator can write any trash and waste in the recall, and will be right. He acts as an expert, you - as evaluated.

Corporate world (kosyach and score, but with great enthusiasm)

The more global a company is, the more difficult it is to get into it, the more permissible limits are the image of the candidate. Not because the best are selected, but because the majority must be weeded out. Selected must remember the difficulty with which they got into the company, and therefore appreciate the place of work. Feel elite in a cubicle, not a grain of sand in a career. Sometimes even hazing is mentioned (I am elected, I went through all the sieves and grindstones, which means I will also screen out, and no matter what qualities they are). As in any large hierarchical structure, random selection is excellent for screening or selection by criteria irrelevant to working skills.

There are many methods to weed out unnecessary candidates:

Glitch forms of applications, if the forms are working - it takes 2 hours to fill out (copy the Linkedin profile line by line, bypassing the form glitches, import from Linkedin / resume does not work in half the cases, and if it works, it is filled with cutting the text from the wrong fields / lines) .

Faster than a week, no company responds. The quick answer is undignified. Exception - some German companies. The average time between the appointment of the next interview / verification of a technical task is a month and a half. Sometimes up to three months. The more global the company, the greater the response time and unpredictable.

A separate problem is the corporate tools used for calls and video calls.

For example, from Luxembourg to South America do not get half of the telephone calls. There was no such problem with any other country. Interviewed, call, write that "you do not pick up the phone." Duplicate on specified Skype or Watsapu will not. But for some reason, all Luxembourg companies (including branches of global companies) use telephony. Almost all Irish - zoom.us (relatively trouble-free service), all German - Google (works only in Chrome, requires a good channel, is sensitive to delays).

The biggest problems are with the video link embedded in the corporate website of the companies. It works only in Chrome (which is of course not mentioned), then you follow the link and wait, the site writes “You are the only interlocutor in the room”, you write a letter - they answer that they see the same thing as me, that I am not in the virtual room. No one knows what the problem is. In a medium and small company, an employee will switch to Skype / WhatsApp without any problems, call on a regular phone and the problem will be solved, a large employee must use a “corporate communication tool” using the army method. The glitch on the corporate website is OK, so we don’t need a loser. Mailing from the corporate calendar does not work - likewise.

Re-submission to the company

According to generally accepted standards, a large company can be re-submitted several months later (month 4-6) after refusal. It is believed that you could get the missing experience, adjust yourself, etc. The probability of getting to the same interviewers is quite low - you will enter another water. It can be said differently - companies are well aware that the millstone dropouts work too well and there is no correlation between the screened and the qualities that are needed directly by the worker in the workplace.

Few examples by company

Amazon - Luxemburg Amazon responded to the application after 2 months, inviting to Dublin, another month to Luxembourg itself. By the time in Luxembourg, I no longer wanted, I studied too much information about the country.

HR Amazon on Dublin said that I did not fit, because I do not understand her questions, which means I'm not ready yet. Pull up the tongue and feed again. And I did not understand the questions, because her English is worse than mine. Accent, incomprehensible phrases, thinking over each spoken word. When asked about her native language, she answered that she was Spanish. Vacancy was in Dublin, she repeatedly called him Dublin. Among the Dublin on this subject there is a meme, about the ticket office: - Kudablin ??? Tuddlin !!!

Zalando - HR found me herself, hitting her perseverance. Failure after the cultural interview. There is a suspicion that they did not want to pay for the intercontinental flight, because The following 4 technical interviews are required in their office. According to the video, the company has reached the threshold of inflexibility of processes.

CGI - the architect all the technical interviews asked a few strange questions. What operating system do I like? What IDE do I like? Which framework do I like - JEE or Spring? Hem after each answer. After which the failure. I did not understand what it was. The wife suggested that he selected his wife on the basis of common interests, and not an employee :)

Glovo - there was an interview with the first HR, which disappeared. After 1.5 months, there was an interview with another HR who knew nothing about the first. We could not schedule an interview with him for a month, because I received a mailing (invitation template) several times with a blank date and time field for the interview. Subscribe repaired, was a “cultural” interview. One of two companies where he added a bugreport to a minor error in the test, as a result of receiving a review, full of nastiness. HR agreed that the recall didn’t correlate at all with my decision on which it all died away. The largest and most complex (by the number of listed features in the technical specifications) technical test of all.

Fujitsu - on the part of the company, everything is OK. Amazing for a company of this size. The quick process, all professionally, got stuck on the “motivational” questions in the third interview, with the future manager.

EU countries


Pros: One of the best salary / price ratios in the world. Fast processing of visas. Rapid permanent residence. Auto 1.5 times cheaper than other EU countries. One of the world languages ​​(4 EU countries speak a lot of technical information) - it is more useful for children than to learn some Dutch, Catalan or Luxembourgian surzhik. A good education. Wives of migrant workers can work.

Ordung and all the positive charms of the Ordung.

Cons: Citizenship does not get (you need to give up all previous citizenships). Many, having lived 25 years - remain decorated for permanent residence.

If Berlin - then you need to understand in advance that in the city of 25% sitting on the social, the sea of ​​refugees, unsafe suburbs and completely ethnic areas.

Ordung and all the negative sides of the ordung ...

Every year the country becomes more multicultural, absorbing Eastern Europe, Turkey and the rest of the world. Among HR I came across Russians, a Malaysian, an Argentinian and one German. Good or bad - I can not say for sure. But it is inevitable. The country has the lowest birth rate in the world (even taking into account the birth rate of migrants), and industry and construction have not yet switched to "deserted technologies."


Pros: English. Big salaries. Friendly people. Relatively low real estate prices (for purchase. Rent is very expensive).

Cons: Climate. There is no protection of workers (they can be fired at any time in half an hour, as in the USA, they can apply for a visa, and then they can be fired on the first day without explaining anything). Pay higher. The wife cannot work (up to obtain citizenship, and this is 5 years + two years on the process), and then she will have a long-term break in the resume and lack of local references. Not included in the Schengen. Household prices are higher than continental Europe. Right wheel. Very expensive car insurance. High crime. The population of half of the districts of Dublin is characterized as Gopnik.

Formal approach to education and other formal features of the candidate. Someone who has studied in Ireland has worked all his life, preferably a license. A candidate must have an IT education to work in IT, otherwise HR will simply not respond. Or HR says that he likes everything and he passes the application on, the next stage does not respond.

Many issues are resolved through horizontal connections in the pub (you tell your problem and an occasional drinking companion remembers someone from the same pub ...), right up to visa difficulties after an official refusal. Chronic alcoholism in Ireland is not a disease, but a useful social skill.

Нужно социализироваться? Нужно общение? - В паб!
Проблемы? В паб!
Нужна работа? В паб!
Решил перекусить? В паб!
Решил выйти из дома? В паб!


Pros: Sea !!! (family will understand). You can forget about winter tires.

Cons: Jobs mostly Web / Full stack. Few serious projects.

Low salaries (below udalenok + taxes about 30%). A lot of bureaucracy. In contrast to bureaucratic Germany, there is a lot of local arbitrariness, in the form of decisions made at the discretion of officials. One decided so differently.

Visa processing is becoming more and more complicated (according to HR, it was much easier a few years ago). All local companies and most internationals currently do not want to make visas considering EU candidates.

The legislative tradition of “occupation” - if you leave for a week and anyone enters the house - then they cannot be evicted by law for years, moreover - all utility costs are borne by the owner or legally renting a house. Similar laws work in Argentina - there even the right of ownership over time can go to the physically seized the house. The solution of such cases is beyond legal practice.


Pros: Low taxes, high wages, stable economy, currency has risen by 2.5 times over 20 years against the dollar / euro.

Cons: Real estate prices cover all the benefits of high wages. Cheaper than 700 thousand. Not to buy anything.

High household prices, above all neighboring countries. The customs border with the rest of Europe, with fines for carrying foreign “shopping”. Very expensive insurance, expensive medical care with low quality.

You can live, coming young and without children. To support a family is unrealistic even for locals. Accordingly - one of the lowest birth rates in the world.

Companies do not want to make a visa, because there is a queue of candidates from EU citizens for them (HR responds that way).


Pros: the best in the EU social sphere of all kinds. High allowances for children, clubs, pensions, etc. Pleasant population, good attitude. No refugees. French. As in the country of banks - very concessional loans. Shifting to our realities is rather interest-free loans, not loans.

Cons: Very expensive and overvalued property. Three times more expensive than the cities of Germany and France neighboring Luxembourg. Less than half a million dollars (or from two thousand per month rent) of real estate is not found. The market is overheated by opening branches of large firms (in fact, this is a tax offshore within the EU), bringing in expats tops, very little is being built.

According to statistics, the country is in 1st place in the world in terms of GDP per capita, but this does not correlate with the real wages of ordinary workers. Signors receive less than in Germany, while real estate is a multiple of expensive, household prices are higher, the labor market is very small.
The wife of a migrant worker cannot work (5 years before obtaining citizenship).


Pros: half of the country is French speaking. Friendly attitude. A lot of IT vacancies, mainly related to government orders for the European Parliament and similar structures in Brussels. There are many ethnic migrants, but most of them came back in the 70s, they managed to get used to it.

Minuses: I did not find any pronounced minuses, except for compulsory study of Dutch in schools.


Pros: Everyone has excellent English, tighten your level. Climate. IT islands are mostly around Forex.

Cons: Right wheel. Life on an island with a small population, where everyone knows each other.


All the estimates are purely personal. Mostly from personal experience, or collectively from local forums. Personal experience of other people may be quite different. My advice is not universal, it may be wrong.

But still I hope that someone collected and summarized information will be useful.

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