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‘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.

‘Be more humble’: Top tips on how to ace your Swedish digital job interview
Don't be too relaxed when interviewing from home. Photo: Getty Images

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.

Are you a university graduate? Learn more about protecting your income by joining Akademikernas akassa

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.”

Digital interviews give everyone a fair chance to present their skills. Photo: Getty Images

Take a step towards job stability and security in uncertain times, by joining Akademikernas akassa

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.”

And when you get the job, be sure to register with Akademikernas akassa, so that your income is protected no matter what happens…

Member comments

  1. What?!? That’s a pretty disgusting picture, isn’t it?!? Surely there was a better way. Oh wait, I forgot, it’s still a man’s world we’re all living in… YUCK.

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WORKING IN SWEDEN

EXPLAINED: How do you apply for Sweden’s new ‘talent visa’?

From June 1st, non-EU citizens can apply to come to Sweden on the new talent visa or "resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons". These are the latest details on how to apply.

EXPLAINED: How do you apply for Sweden's new 'talent visa'?

Sweden’s “resi­dence permit for highly quali­fied persons to look for work or start a busi­ness” was voted through parliament in April as part of a set of changes to the country’s new work laws in April.

The visa was brought in as part of the January Agreement between the economically liberal Centre and Liberal Parties and the Social Democrat government. 

The basic form for the new talent visa was published when parliament voted it through: The visa allows non-EU citizens with a higher-level degree to apply for a visa of between three to nine months, which they can then use to stay in Sweden while they look for work or research setting up a new business.  

But the Migration Agency on June 1st published the details of what exact educational requirements are required to be eligible for the new visa, how much money applicants need to show they have to support themselves, and how and where to apply. They also published the form that needs to be filled in

What counts as an advanced-level degree and how do I prove it? 

The bar is set pretty low. To be eligible for the talent visa, applicants need to have a degree corresponding to at least a 60-credit Master’s degree, a 120-credit Master’s degree, a professional degree worth 60-330 credits, or a postgraduate/PhD-level degree.

You need to send copies of any examination certificates along with your application, as well as copies of the official transcript of your academic record, that shows the courses included in your education. 

If these documents are in a language other than English, French, Spanish, German, or a Nordic language, they have to be translated into Swedish or one of the above languages by an authorized translator.

You also need to print out, sign, scan, and send a letter of consent to the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), allowing them to contact the educational institutions where you studied for your higher-level degree.

What financial assets do I need to show and how do I prove them? 

You must need to show that you have enough money (or a source of regular income) to support yourself during the time that you will be in Sweden, as well as enough to pay for your journey home. The Migration Agency judges that you need 13,000 kronor per month, so you need a lump sum of 117,000 kronor (€12,000). 

Source: Migration Agency

To prove that you can support yourself, you must either submit copies of your bank statements (plus a translated version if necessary). If you have another source of regular funding, you can explain in the ‘other’ box on what you intend, and enclose documents to support this.

What insurance do you need? 

You need to confirm that you have signed a comprehensive health insurance on the form, and also name the insurance company and the dates between which the insurance policy is valid. 

The insurance needs to cover the costs of emergency and other medical care, hospitalisation, dental care, and also the cost of repatriation for medical reasons. You need to enclose a copy of a document setting out the terms of your insurance policy. 

Source: Migration Agency

What do you need to write about your plans for Sweden? 

According to the Migration Agency, the visa is for people living outside the EU who “plan to seek employment or explore the possibilities for starting [their] own business”, but the form gives few guidelines as to what will count. 

In the form, there is a space for a few sentences in which you can say what sort of business you plan to start, or which sort of job you intend to look for, as well as whether you intend to leave Sweden, or apply for residency in another way if you fail to secure a job. 

Carl Bexelius, the Migration Agency’s Head of Legal Affairs, said that there was no requirement in the legislation that those with the new talent visa seek jobs that require them to be highly qualified. 

“The crucial part is that you have you are talented in a legal sense, that you have the appropriate education to qualify. If they find work, they can then apply for for a work permit, but that work does not need to require high qualifications.”

Other requirements? 

The other requirement is to have a passport that is valid for the full period in which you will be in Sweden. In the application you need to send copies of all the pages that show your personal data, photo, signature, passport number, issuing country, period of validity, entry stamps, and also if you have permission to live in countries other than your country of origin. 

How to apply? 

You need to send the application form, with the attached documents to the Swedish embassy or consulate-general in your country of residence, or, if that is not possible, at the embassy or consulate-general in the closest country. 

You should contact the embassy for information before applying, and to learn how large an application fee you will need to pay. 

What sort of permit will I get? 

If you get a permit valid for more than three months, you will get a residence permit card which features your fingerprints and a photo.

If you need an entry visa to come to Sweden, you will need to be photographed and have your fingerprints scanned at the Swedish embassy or consulate-general in your country of residence before leaving to come to Sweden.

If you do not need an entry visa, you can apply for a residency card, and have your photo taken and your fingerprints scanned, after your arrival in Sweden. 

What happens if I get a job or start a business while in Sweden? 

If you get a job while in Sweden, you can apply for a work permit from within the country. You cannot start work until the work permit is granted, though (which may not happen until after your talent visa has already expired). 

If you start a business in Sweden, you can apply for a residence permit as a self-employed person. You can start setting up and running your business even before the Migration Agency has made its decision. 

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