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28 September, 2020

What should you expect at a job interview in Sweden?

Well done! You made it through the first step of the recruitment process and have secured an interview. How do you prepare? What can you expect? Based on discussions with recruiters and HR managers, and my own experience, here are a few pointers to help you get ready. Disclaimer: these are general tendencies, I can’t guarantee that your experience will be similar.

A friendly welcoming

Swedes tend to be less formal professionally than many other nationalities. Upon arrival, offer a warm smile and/or a firm handshake (outside of COVID pandemic times). You will most likely be offered a coffee or a glass of water. Accept it, as it is perceived as being courteous. You can address the interviewer(s) by their first name, and follow their lead to an informal chit chat about the weather, your weekend or the journey to their office.

How to dress?

It will depend on your industry and role, but generally, men should avoid wearing a tie (unless you are a banker or a lawyer). Dress professionally – smart casual, business casual is ideal – which could mean smart trousers/skirt & jacket or even jeans & jacket. If you are in the creative industry, you might get away with trainers. Ultimately, dress like yourself, one level above your everyday casual attire.

Photo credit@Unsplash

A conversation, not an interrogation

Recruiters see interviews as an opportunity for both parties to get to know each other. They want to know if you are a good fit for them. They also expect you to be inquisitive and evaluate if the role and the company are a match for you.

Prepare your mindset: confident, positive and curious. Leave aside superiority/inferiority feelings. Enter the room ready for an engaging conversation about you, the role, the company, and what each of you needs and expects. The interviewer will want you to feel at ease and on an equal footing.

Prepare and ask questions. It will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in the position and that you are making a conscious choice about your future employer.

Focus on your motivations and personality

Contrary to more suspicious nationalities, Swedes trust that your CV is accurate. Recruiters will rarely question your competences and diplomas. But they might ask for additional details. Your profile was selected because they believe you have the right skillset. During the interview, they will want to find out if you are suitable for the company culture and for the team.

Are you someone they would want to spend 40 hours per week with? Will you thrive in their culture? They will ask about your personality, behaviours and motivations. Why are you interested in the position? What makes you happy at work? What drives you? Which type of environment or manager do you need to be successful? Have your answers ready.

Photo credit@Unsplash

It’s “we” not ‘I’

One of the strongest Swedish values is collaboration. When sharing your previous experiences and successes, be sure to be inclusive. Use ‘we’, instead of ‘I’ as it is generally accepted that no one achieves anything alone. Bring a handful of examples showing how you contributed to your team and its success.

Don’t brag. Recruiters won’t be impressed if you oversell yourself. It can even be perceived as a sign of weakness. Be confident, but humble.

Honesty is another Swedish value. The recruiter’s goal is to get to know you. They don’t expect you to be perfect. Be yourself and do your best. As one recruiter told me ‘you can’t force a marriage’. Good luck!


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Christelle Pottinger on Facebook
Christelle Pottinger
Hi! I am French and I have moved to Sweden in 2012 with my family. I enjoy writing and sharing my experience of living and working in Sweden. I am a career coach, always happy to help French and English-speaking Newbies fulfill their professional dreams.

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