Living in Sweden: Swedish CV and the hopeful Job Interview

This post is part two in the Living in Sweden Series.  In the first post, we discussed how to find a job in Sweden.  Now, once you found a job, you need to create a polished resume and prepare for potential interviews in Sweden.

A CV, curriculum vitae, is a longer form of a resume.  If you are from the US, you should revamp your resume to include a few more details that should be on a CV in Sweden.  From the Arbetsförmedlingen guidebook on finding a job, this is what you should have on your CV.

  • Studies/training
  • Job experience placements
  • Training courses
  • Other information: travel, computer skills, language competencies, special achievements, and community organizations
  • Work experience
  • Personal: Interests and hobbies
  • References: 1-2 professional references and maybe 1 personal reference (not your mom or dad!) that can vouch for your personality, work ethic, and achievements for a long period of time.

Made it this far? When you apply for a job in Sweden, just as in most countries, you should also include a cover letter stating why you want the job.  Write what experience you have that can complement the job as well as what makes you different, i.e. a stellar candidate, from other applicants.  Most employers are okay if you write the CV and cover letter in English, though if you have the knowledge (don’t fake it) do write in Swedish.

The Swedish Job Interview:
First off, if you get your foot in the door with an interivew, more than half the battle is won.  A job interview, in Sweden or anywhere else in the world, is your  opportunity to prove that you are the best person ever for the job.  Period.  You are awesome, you get the job.

Prepare for the interview:

  • Read up on the company. – Especially if this is a big company, know about their history, what revolutionary things they are doing, their balance sheet (if going into finance/accounting).
  • Find out about recent news about the company. – If you do not understand Swedish, then enlist your friends to find recent articles about the potential company.   For example, if Saab is announcing a big job cut, you can ask why are they still hiring.
  • Read industry related blogs/sites. – Maybe going in marketing?  Then read blogs (you should already be doing so, otherwise why are you applying for this job) and industry news.  When you are at the interview, you can then say “I keep with industry related activities by reading X, Y and Z blogs.  I also found one Swedish blog that is great as well, and I am always looking for more.”
  • Find out who is interviewing you and what their title is.

What to take to an interview:
Because you are a foreigner, I would carry additional paperwork to satisfy any questions the interviewer may have.  You probably won’t need it, but you never know and do not want to slow down the interview because you left papers at home.

  • Copy of your diploma
  • CV and cover letter (if you wrote a cover letter)
  • Transcript of grades – good if you are applying to a fairly academic or research oriented position (like quantitative math analyst at a financial firm)
  • References – At least two people that can vouch for you (and the ones listed on your CV is preferredu).  Have their phone numbers and emails on hand to give to the interviewer.

I have had several interviews in Sweden. Preparing for a job interview in Sweden or anywhere else is a daunting task, especially if you know nothing about the culture.  Swedish job interviews tend to be more personal than American interviews and more subjective based. They also don’t spend as much time giving you lots of “situations” or number crunching exercises.  Here are few questions I remember from my interviews and some from the guidebook.

Potential questions at a Swedish Interview:

  • Why did you move to Sweden? What interests you about Sweden?
  • Do you intend on living in Sweden for an extended period of time?
  • Do you speak Swedish? Are you willing to learn? – If you happen to know some Swedish, speak it.
  • Tell me about yourself. Give a 2 minute spiel about coming to Sweden, what your education is, and what is your experience.
  • Why are you good for this job?
  • Can you accept criticism?
  • Can you solve problems?
  • Can you give examples of problems you have solved?
  • Is there anything in particular that you are proud of?
  • Can you tell us about something you have achieved?
  • What will you be doing in 5 years from now?
  • How would you describe a good colleague?
  • Can you tell us about a mistake that you’ve made, and what you learned from the experience?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • How would your manager describe you?
  • How do you function in a group?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What gives you job satisfaction?
  • Why should we employ you?

If you made it this far, be sure to thank the interviewer and ask what the next step is. Send a thank you letter as well.  If you applying for a job at a traditional Swedish company, then mail one to the interviewer.  If you are applying to a high tech, very internet based company, an email will suffice.  If you do not hear anything in one week, send a reminder and find out how the interview selection is going.  Ask if there is any paperwork that you could provide to help them.

I also would tell my future employer that I must have a Swedish work visa in order to work in Sweden.  , that my future employer must file all the necessary paperwork and pay the fees.  I had one employer give me a job offer on condition that I do all the paperwork.  No thanks, you can’t do that.   Job offers have to be approved by a union board, so going your own way is a very very long and tough road.  If your employer is not willing to help you with a visa, it is a sign that they may not help you with many other things at the company.

Of course, be enthusiastic and excited to work in Sweden and work for a Swedish company.  Be relaxed and know your stuff and you will be okay.

Good luck with your job interviews in Sweden!

17 thoughts on “Living in Sweden: Swedish CV and the hopeful Job Interview”

  1. Hi sapphire,

    You left a comment some days ago on my blog, thank you for it (I also replied to it).
    This post is really interesting, handy and descriptive.
    As you said, Swedish recruiters are quite focused on your personality. They pay attention to your hobbies and you shouldn’t be surprised if they ask you how you spend your free time I found it a reasonable question, because the Swedish people are really concerned about their free time.

    For some foreign workers to be interviewed requires a complete change of your mindset. For example, in Sweden it is frowned upon to know that you do a lot of overtime. To be a hard worker doesn’t mean you stay in your office more than it is expected.
    Moreover, you shouldn’t be competitive, the work-group backs up on a cooperating climate.
    Yet, when you have your job interview is not strictly necessary to suit up. In some context you can even give a “dim view”, they start to think “who’s who” you are.
    On the contrary, in Italy we always suit up although you have a junior profile… your aspect is much more important than your competencies.. unfortunately !
    I can give you a proof. Some months ago I was interviewed by a blue chip Swedish company in Italy and they make me understand they didn’t care about a dress code.
    Probably there is more to add… but there are just few words that may be interesting.

    About cv format.. what kind of resume format do you suggest to use ?
    You said that the cv should be rearranged with info like: Personal Interests and hobbies, community organizations and so on.
    I’ve already enclosed all these information in my cv. We in Italy use the European template that already provide boxes to fill in with these kind of details.
    Have you tried to use the EU cv format ?

    http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/europass/home/vernav/Europasss+Documents/Europass+CV.csp

  2. I’m Swedish, and work within what you described as “high tech, very internet based company”, so that’s my context. :)

    I’ve held job interviews, and the reason to why we focus more on the personality than hard quizzes is that it’s an expensive process to hire someone, and we want to make sure that the person will stay, and that he/she has a personality that we like. It’s also hard to fire someone because of bad personality, but you can fire someone who is incompetent. (Well, it’s actually hard to fire someone in Sweden regardless of reason, but it’s a bit easier if he/she is incompetent)

    One thing that suprised me was that you said that you should send a thank you letter. I have never heard about that, and would get surprised if I got one. I would also say that it’s a better to pick up the phone and give a call instead of sending an email after a few weeks.

    Another important tip is; never lie in your CV. I know that it in some cultures is acceptable to boost your CV, but Swedish employers don’t like it.

  3. hello dear,
    i am kadicha and study food safety and quality assurance, this is my third and last year, i a m looking for work experience during this summer in food and drink, environmental health, industry and manufacturing, laboratories, etc…
    i am living in the UK, i am 30 years old, and i hope to hear for you very soon.
    yours sincerely
    kadicha
    ps: 00447805356112

  4. hi frinds,i live in east Africa,i have bachlor deegre in marketing managment.i want to live and work in sweden,but i didnt find any job,can anybady sugest me the reliable job source to find a job.

  5. hi!! could someone please tell me approx. how much money do you need per month in order to live/survive in a small town in Sweden?

  6. Hi. I am an Indian currently staying in UK. I will be staying for another few months. If i have to go to Sweden to attend an interview, under which category of visa i should apply ? I have my friend,(Non EU citizen) in sweden. Can i go in tourist visa and attend the interview ? Or else under which i should apply ?

  7. Hi guys,
    Can some one tell me under the interview, and they mentioned maximum salary “högsta lönen”should the person förhandling “negotiation” and ask for more… or just accpet the salary…
    Please some advice….

    Thanks,
    Mike

  8. This was extremely helpful. Thanks a lot. I have just another question. Can you please tell me if someone on a dependent visa is eligible to apply for jobs in Sweden. By dependent visa I mean a residence permit being awarded as a spouse to a student who is currently studying in Sweden.If one such individual does find an appropriate job and wants to apply for a work permit what are the rules. Your help in this regard would be much appreciated

    Thanks
    Emzee

  9. Hi,

    First of all, your post was great. I’m willing to get a job in Sweden or in some of the other scandinavian countries. My question is: is it advisable to include a small photo in the CV?

    Thanks in advance.

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