French Language Blog

What You *Really* Must Know How to Say in a French Job Interview Posted by on Nov 11, 2012 in Vocabulary

If you are applying for a job in France, or if your entrevue professionnelle (job interview) must be conducted in French only, there are some key elements that you absolutely need learn how to say en français.

Today, we’ll go through the strictly essential:

First of all, you must know how to say your informations personnelles (personal information), which means your nom de famille (last name), your prénom (first name), your adresse email (email address), your numéro de portable (mobile number) and/or your numéro de domicile (home number), your adresse (address), as well as your date et lieu de naissance (date and place of birth) and your nationalité (nationality.) If needed, specify whether you are un citoyen européen (European citizen) or not.


In France, as in most places in the world, your prospective employer can ask for your situation personnelle et état civil (personal and marital status): He or she may wish to know whether you are célibataire (single), marié(e) (married), or even séparé (separated.)

But, in any case, the question of les diplômes (diplomae) is quasi-unavoidable: Most jobs require at least un Baccalauréat universitaire or une License (Bachelor’s degree.) Ideally, you could have un Doctorat (a PhD) or a Master (a Master’s, which is actually different than a simple Maîtrise, since a Master corresponds to five years of university, whereas a Maîtrise requires only four.) There are different types of Masters. The most common are: uneMSc“, or “Maîtrise ès sciences” (MS: Masters of Science), une maîtrise ès arts or “maîtrise universitaire ès lettres” (MA: Masters of Art), and une maîtrise en administration des affaires (MBA: Masters of Business Administration.)

You also need to go through your compétences et expérience professionnelle (qualifications and professional experience), in addition to les langues (the languages) which you speak. For each spoken language, you can specify if your niveau d’aisance (fluency level) is that of a natif (native), or if it is courant (fluent), lu, écrit, parlé (proficient, that is), convenable (intermediary), or if you only have des notions de base (basic notions.)

Finally, you may wish to talk for a bit about your loisirs et centres d’intérêt personnels (leisure and personal interests): la philosophie, le golf, le foot, le théâtre, les voyages, etc.!

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  1. Martin Castellan:

    Traditional French companies are more hierarchical than Anglo-Saxon ones with much less delegation. Responsibility is hoarded at the highest level you’ll find French directors making decisions which would be a clerk’s job in Britain or America.

    So do not mention:

    – experience that it is at more senior level than the job demands
    – qualifications at a higher level than those demanded
    – experience in a larger organisation than the one to which you’re applying
    – experience which is more senior or longer than that of your potential new boss
    – experience where you used initiative rather than first asking for permission

    In my experience, these are all killers.