‘Be more humble’: Top tips on how to ace your Swedish digital job interview
We might be heading back to something approaching post-Covid normality, as Swedish employees are told that they can head back to the office. But, even after the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, the Swedish workplace model has been changed forever.
Increasing numbers of employers are offering full- and part-time remote working options to their employees. And, furthermore, if you’re invited to an interview with a prospective employer, there’s a very good chance it will still be conducted remotely.
The genie is out of the bottle: Swedish hiring managers have discovered the benefits of digital interviews. They save on travel costs and facilitate the kind of early screening that just wasn’t possible over the phone.
Remote interviewing presents something of a different proposition and The Local and its readers have teamed up with Akademikernas akassa, the unemployment insurance provider for university graduates, to offer our guide to success with remote digital interviewing.
Some things don’t change
Do your homework. Check the employer’s website. Google recent stories about them. Have they just launched a new product or service? Look for any social media activity - what do their customers think about them? Get a sense of the corporate culture: how can you personify that tone during your interview? Being properly prepared will pay off.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
Sure, you don’t have to wear a suit and tie or that killer outfit you wore to your cousin's wedding, but don’t go too far the other way. If you truly think that interviewing in your pyjamas is appropriate just because you’re being interviewed at home, don’t be surprised if the employer might not consider you best suited to that client-facing role.
Remember those famous words by Roxette: get dressed for success! Most Swedes think they are reasonably fashionable and like to bring a little style and personality to proceedings - even in a corporate setting, but nothing over the top or too formal - so your interviewers will equally have made an effort for you. When we asked The Local’s readers for their views on this topic, Vishal Kulkarni, a mechanical design engineer at Scania, was quite forthright. “Be presentable, be on time, and keep smiling.”
Test the tech
Making sure you have a flawless internet connection might seem like a given, but it's worth repeating. And The Local’s readers were unanimous on this one. “Make sure you are using a computer or laptop with a stable internet connection and good video and audio quality. Do not use your phone for video interviews,” said Islombek Karimov, who’s lived in Stockholm for three years since moving from Kyrgyzstan.
Barbara Majsa, a Hungarian who now lives in Stockholm, was more specific. “Use good headphones because sometimes the interviewer may hear some echo if you don’t. The last thing an already-nervous interviewee needs are problems with their connections or devices.”
Vishal concurred and also came up with a good tip. “As much as you invest in interview clothes, they’re only as good as your camera. If your laptop has a bad camera there are apps that can convert an old smartphone into a good webcam.”
Set the scene
Get the setting right. Consider everything the camera will see during your online interview. Place your camera somewhere that is insulated from background noise and away from visual distractions.
Lighting just above and behind the camera is the most flattering. If the room you’re using is your family’s storage (or disused toy) room, use a background that’s already been created, or just blur your background.
Ensure your account includes a professional-looking headshot, rather than one of you that time you dressed up as a scary clown for Halloween, and your full name, as it appears on your resume. They’ll both appear when you join the call. They’re an integral element of your first impression.
You should also try to reproduce the same face-to-face interview feeling by being the same distance from the camera as you would be from the interviewer in real life. Preferably, the interviewer should be able to see your facial expressions and hand gestures but not so close that they can count the hairs in your nostrils.
Your Swedish digital job interview
There are some obvious cultural differences between Swedish interviewers and those from other countries. For those new to Sweden, Islombek’s tip for dealing with a Swedish interview is to not focus too much on trying to impress Swedish employers. “Be more humble,” he said.
“Swedish employers prefer to get to know you, not just for what you can do, but also - and this is very important - to learn what kind of a person you are. When you’re asked to ‘tell us about yourself’, don’t just talk about the qualifications relevant for the position but tell the interviewer a bit about your life, such as hobbies, where you live, family, pets, etc. Interviews in Sweden are generally a little informal and virtual interviews are even more informal.”
Barbara has a useful little nugget of information about digital Swedish interviews.
“If you mention in your CV that you speak Swedish, be prepared for an interview in Swedish, even if the corporate language of the organisation is English. You can always ask the contact person about the language before the interview and some interviewers may even ask you which language you prefer."
But above all remember this
Nidz Illman, a recruitment specialist from Stockholm, shared a valuable insight into the way recruiters regard the digital interview process in contrast to those employers who recruit directly. “As a recruiter, I think virtual interviews give everyone a fair chance to present their skills. Recruiters aren't really concerned with what you wear or your body language. Instead, all our attention is focused on your drive, innovative mindset and communication skills.”
This content was paid for by an advertiser and produced by The Local's Creative Studio.