Let’s consider this scenario. You applied for your visa appointment 6 months ago and you have been dying to see that email. Eventually, you get it so you start running around making sure all your documents are in order before you show up at the Embassy in Islamabad. You have heard all kinds of stories about the Embassy; about how they treat people, what kind of questions they ask, and so on. It’s your appointment day, you are standing outside the embassy door and sweating; even though you’ve heard all of these stories, you have absolutely no idea what’s waiting for you behind that door. It’s an experience, isn’t it?
I was in the same position about 3 years ago and I walked out of my interview with a huge smile on my face and on the face of the interviewer. If you’ve heard any of those horror stories about the embassy, then you know that getting your interviewer to smile is probably the best thing that can happen to you in there. How did I do it?
First of all, it is extremely important that you forget everything you know about the interview. I know, it sounds stupid right now but trust me, I wrote this post after 50 real studies of students who gave an interview at the German Embassy in Islamabad. We are going to start from scratch.
Have a look at your documents and see if they fill the following criteria:
- Do you have a valid admission letter from a German University?
- Do you have your blocked account set up and ready?
- Do you have the required language skills?
- Do you have a valid sponsor letter and bank statement?
Needless to say, these are not the ONLY documents required, and make sure your documentation is complete but if you answered yes to the above three questions, congratulations, you are 90% ahead of everyone else.
These 4 documents account for ¾ of your application in regards to the importance. Based solely on fulfilling the above requirements, your chances of getting a visa rejected drop well below 10%.
Now, before we proceed with the interview it should be known that no person on the face of this earth can provide you with all the possible questions. But what you’ll get here is the right mindsets to answer any question thrown at you by the interviewer. Let’s dive in.
GO ON OFFENSE – NOT DEFENSE
A visa is not a big deal. Please UNDERSTAND This. We, as Pakistani’s, have elevated the subject of visa to a whole new level with the visa agents around every corner making you believe that if you don’t hire them, you’ll fail. Throw that stuff out the window right now.
Think of applying for a visa as applying for a driver’s license. If you have all the required documents and you didn’t make a major mistake in your driving exam, there is no reason that you will not get your license. Similarly, if you have all the required documentation for your visa and unless there is a major setback during your interview, there is an extremely little chance that you will get your visa rejected. I cannot stress this enough, KEEP YOUR DOCUMENTS PERFECTLY READY. Of course, there are some anomalies but more than 90% of the time you will get it. Having this mindset will help you get rid of your nervousness and provide you with the ultimate confidence to walk in there knowing everything I am telling you here. Remember – offense.
KNOW WHAT THEY WANT – BE SMART ABOUT IT
Once you’ve got out of the being nervous phase and before you move on to your actual interview, it’s important to know what they are actually looking for from you. How many times have you found yourself making up scenarios in your head about the visa officer “If he asks this, what does he mean? How should I answer it? Is he going to reject me if I answer incorrectly?”. Throw all of that out of your head and face the very simple facts of what the visa officer wants.
The visa officers are there to make sure if your application is complete if your payment is made and if everything is true what you tell them. Have you ever noticed them just typing while you speak? They are taking notes based on the answers you are giving to them so they can simultaneously verify them with the documents you provided. So be in synchrony with your documents which is usually easy to do when you’re honest.
If to know you’re a student, they want why you are going for that program and how is that going to help you? They want to make sure you are a genuine applicant who intends to do exactly what the visa category permits. It doesn’t matter what your end goals are at this point, if you applied for a student visa, justify it with your documents and your words that being a student is exactly what you seek. No more, no less.
Bad example: “I am going to attend this program so that I can study while doing a part-time job so I can support my parents back home”
Good example: “I am extremely passionate about this xyz program. I secured an undergraduate degree in a similar field and worked on multiple projects in the past years related to this field. I want to contribute more to this field and I’m confident this program is going to help me do it”.
Most visa officers follow The Complicated Story Rule: no matter how unlikely seeming if it’s diabolically complicated but it hangs together, it’s true. So if you’re in doubt, just know that there is a lot of room for you to not be perfect and still manage to get a hold of the visa.
Now that you have no reason to be nervous and you know what the visa officers want, let’s look at some of the types of questions and how to answer them in order of reoccurrence.
My favorite – Why Germany?
I love to answer this. Think about it, really, the major reason we all want to study in Germany is that it’s free, right? But how do you put it in an articulate way? Let’s look at 2 people below:
Person 1: “I decided to go because of its low tuition fee and because I’m fascinated by the history”
Person 2: “In this era, where 90% of the countries charge enormous amounts of tuition fees, Germany offers the same, if not better, quality of education for a negligible amount of money. It just shows to me how much this country values education and that is my primary motivation. In addition, Germany has the perfect blend of history, rich culture, diversity, and is ranked one of the best countries for international students.”
Now, if you were the visa officer, which answer would you rather prefer? Even if Person 1 and Person 2 want the same thing, Person 2 managed to put it so much more convincingly than Person 1 and that should be your goal.
Academic related questions
Chances are you’ll be asked questions like “why this university” “why this course”. Remember, all you have to do is justify it to them by crafting a story that is aligned with your documents here. For every academic-related question, you should have your research done. Ask yourself, why did you apply to this course at this university? Was it because it is one of the top-ranked courses? Was it because someone recommended this course? Find your true reason and relay in convincingly.
For a sample answer please refer to the Good and Bad example from Mindset #2.
Intention related questions
A lot of people are scared of questions related to your intentions. First, know that these questions are asked to see if the applicant has a tendency to take advantage of the German welfare system and rely on it. Again, as I mentioned before, if you apply for a student visa, your portrayed intention to be a visa officer should be solely about studying there. See the conversation below:
VO: “Do you intend to come back to Pakistan after your studies?”
You: “Yes, my intention is to make the most out of my studies while I am there and afterward, I intend to come back and use the skills I learned to provide value to my country”.
VO: “But what if you get a highly paid job offer?”
You: “My intention is to study for now but if I do get my desired job offer, I will be tempted to consider it. However, as I mentioned before, my intention, for now, is to complete my studies and return back to Pakistan”
Now, notice, we are using the word INTENTION a lot because it does not convey a definite plan so you imply not knowing definitely what you will do apart from studying there. The VO also knows this is an absurd question to ask since in 2 years when you graduate, a lot of variables in life will be changed and this question will not mean anything. State your INTENTIONS clearly, but always leave room for adjustments 😉
This is where you know your situation better than anyone and you know your documents better than anyone. The questions are very basic “What does your father/brother/mother do for a living?” “How is all of this financed” and so on. If you meet all the requirements and you have sufficient funds, you shouldn’t be worried.
Lastly, even though it does not contribute to your visa, make sure to leave a good impression. Walk-in with a smile, greet the officer, leave with a smile, use the mirroring and pacing technique during the interview – if the VO is talking fast, use the same pace to answer, when he nods, try to nod. It’s simply human psychology, we trust people like ourselves. This is just to get comfortable with the VO during the interview; your answers remain the same.
With this, I wish you all good luck with your interview. Go nail the interview and make your way to Germany to live the life you’ve been dreaming about!