Living in Sweden: Job Interview Tips

Now that it is the end of summer, people are returning back to work and also applying for jobs again. Despite the recession, many companies are hiring, especially anything IT related. And many of these companies are welcoming to foreigners.

I was surfing through the official job site in Sweden, Arbetsförmedlingen, that is branch responsible to get unemployed people employed, foreigners into the workforce, and provide tips and information. What I noticed is a lot of the information and preparation for a job interview in Sweden is similar to the US (and I presume UK).

In my previous post about job interviews, I discussed the difference between US and Sweden are ‘situation’ problem questions rarely arise in Swedish interviews. As I’ve experienced several job interviews here, that seems to be the case.

A job interview in Sweden is more about exploring your personality, qualities, and how well you work with others. You won’t be berated with logic questions but you still need to know about the company and WHY you want the job.


Before the Interview

Prepare for the interview

  • Find out as much as you can about the company.
  • Think about what you want out of the job and interview.
  • Make a list of questions you may receive and prepare responses. This is best to do! You can use these for any interview.
  • Write down any questions you would ask.
  • Think through how you want the employer to find you (behavior, dress).
  • Keep the employer’s phone number on hand so you can call if anything happens.
  • Agree with the interviewer’s time. Don’t make them jump through hoops to find a time that suits you.


What to Bring

  • Copies of your application documents, certificates and testimonials
  • Any work samples
  • Planning calendar, notepad and pen
  • List of own prepared questions and notes about the company and its products and services
At the Interview

Questions you will receive

  • Tell us about yourself – Place emphasis on the last few years and do not talk too long.
  • Why have you applied for this job? – Employers want to know how interested you are to work and how much you know about the company. Describe what interests you at work and pick up your work experience, education and characteristics.
  • What do you know about us? – Emphasize what is most important based on what you found out about it. Be brief.
  • Why did you move to Sweden?
  • Do you know Swedish?
  • Is it easy to learn new things?
  • Can you take criticism?
  • Can you solve problems?
  • Can you give some examples of problems you have solved?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Can you tell us of something really good that you made?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How do you find a good colleague to be?
  • Can you tell us about any mistakes you made and what you learned from it?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • How would your boss describe you?
  • How does your group describe you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? – Always asked
  • What makes you happy at work?
  • How do you handle stress and time pressure?
  • Why should we hire you? – Always asked

Tip: Prepare answers to ALL these questions. This way you have several hours at home to peacefully ponder them and have great responses.

When you Speak

  • Be honest – tell the truth.
  • Never criticize a former boss or employer.
  • Speak well of former colleagues, bosses, customers, businesses and products.
  • Remember that your body language means a lot – a time for you, have energy in your movements and a positive attitude.
  • Keep eye contact.
  • Never show that you are in desperate need of a job.
  • Never talk about your private problems.
  • Do not reply to a question if you have not understood it correctly – ask for an explanation.
  • Find out the next step in the recruitment process before you proceed.
  • End your interview with a smile, a thank you and a firm handshake.


After the Interview

  • Send a thank you letter by email or mail (depending on your industry)
  • Don’t berate them with calls or emails about the job unless they did not get back to you in the appropriate time.
  • Keep your references on hand. The employer may want to call them.

And if this interview doesn’t work out, then the next interview will. Be positive and interested!

17 thoughts on “Living in Sweden: Job Interview Tips”

  1. I have been here about 3 weeks and interviewing/applying for jobs. Has been a bit slow because of the holiday but picking up now. It is driving me crazy to be be in limbo knowing that I need a work visa. Since you worked in the U.S. as well, you know what I mean when I say that I don’t feel the same sense of urgency here from employers to fill positions. They definitely take their time :)

  2. I think your question list pretty much sums up a typical Swedish interview.

    I also like to ask people what motivates them at work. This is pretty similar to your “what makes you happy?” question, I suppose.

    Besides, I also ask what they expect from a manager.

  3. I’d also say that it’s important to think about “why would they hire you”, rather than “why do you want this job”. In other words: when you’re applying for a job, you are potentially going to fix a problem for your employer. They need someone to do fill that position. Try to understand what he/she wants and show him/her you can do that.

  4. Ferruccio – Well put and more important than “i want i want i want”, it’s what the company whats.

    Ed – thanks for your insight.

    Kay – Keep at it and keep sending out CVs. Search on individual company websites. That’s especially good because many don’t post on the big job boards.

  5. You forgot the most important question that’s different between a Swedish vs. US job interview — “How old are you?” :)

  6. There is going to be a big career fair at the Globe next weekend… Friday and Saturday.

    Apparently, the tables (for employers looking for employees) have been sold out for months… its going to be huge!

    So if you are still looking for a job, i would suggest checking out this expo, and bringing a few resume’s along too!

    Here’s a blurb that I found online:

    “On September 10-11, 2010, the largest job fair in the Nordic region will be held for recent graduates or experienced professionals in the field.

    The job fair, which will be held at Globen in Stockholm, is being arranged by Careerbuilder, the Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers, the Swedish Association of Graduates in Business Administration and Economics, and Poolia.

    During these two days you will have the opportunity to meet us and several other employers in Sweden.”

    You can get discounted tickets (100kr off) from this link:
    http://www.ssab.com/en/Career-2/University/Job-fairs/

    If you’re wondering why I know so much about this, it’s because I have a friend who works for careerbuilders, I am not affiliated with this job fair at all :)

  7. Just curious Sapphire, how long did it take when you first came to Stockholm for a) you to have a job offer with an employer willing to do a work visa & b) for you to actually get the work Visa and start working?

    Thanks :) Job searching is exhausting!

  8. @Juni – Speaking Swedish (or as I say, speaking in tongues) isn’t required for a job in Sweden. Most companies are open to the idea of hiring “international”, but knowing any Swedish isn’t gonna hurt though. :)

    FYI, my Swedish is pretty poor and I have no problems here.

  9. Yeah right! Its a must to send a thank you letter right after the interview as a part of interview etiquette . And in addition, contact only the interviewer AFTER the given time period, but make sure to do it in a less intrusive way. Follow up first by sending email, calling the department office, then follow up personally if you still haven’t received any response to highlight your enthusiasm for the position and to get more details about the status of the hiring decision. Thanks for sharing these Sweden interview tips, learning a lot from it! Btw, I went ahead and bookmarked your informative post! ;)

  10. What ever happened to the days of “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”?. I enjoyed those days as I know a lot of people and contacts in IT who would hire me tomorrow. Now it seems to be more of “It’s not who you know, it’s who you blow”.

  11. Good morning…
    Has any one been to group job interview before?
    how does it goes? how should you act?
    Any one know what would be an a group senario would look like? what kind of question will be?

  12. Hi all,

    How long does a company in Sweden takes to give you feedback on an interview?

    Thanks in advance,

    Mark

  13. @Mark – Just depends, from a few days to a few weeks to never. If you don’t hear back in 2-3 weeks, follow up with them with an email.

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