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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.

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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

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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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WORK PERMITS

Swedish parliament to vote on raising minimum salary for work permits

Next week, the Swedish parliament is due to vote on a proposal to raise the current work permit salary threshold from the current level of 13,000 kronor a month. The government and the Sweden Democrats have proposed raising it to around 33,000 kronor a month.

Swedish parliament to vote on raising minimum salary for work permits

The proposal would raise the maintenance requirement for work permit applicants from outside the EU, the Nordic countries and Switzerland – and it looks likely to pass, as the three government parties, along with the Social Democrats and the Sweden Democrats are in favour of the move.

The current proposal was put forward by the former Social Democrat government, and after discussions in the social insurance committee, it was clear that a majority of the parliamentary parties are in favour – only the Left Party, the Greens and the Centre Party are against it.

“A higher maintenance requirement is a welcome step on the path towards a system that curbs cheating and fraud and focuses on highly qualified labour immigration,” migration minister Maria Malmer Stenergard told TT newswire in a written comment.

The Swedish framework for work permit immigration has been described as unique. In contrast to most other countries in Europe which are specifically aimed at highly educated immigrants, Sweden accepts all immigrants who fulfil the requirements despite their education or profession.

The number of labour immigrants to Sweden has also increased substantially. So far this year, over 50,000 applications have come in, of which 38,000 have been approved. Labour immigrants represent the majority of immigrants in Sweden.

It’s also unclear when the change in legislation could become law. No date is given in the proposal, but the suggested date of implementation is “the day the government decides”.

Another element which is not yet clear is exactly how high the salary threshold will be. This will be decided in a separate regulation, which is planned to come into force at the same time as the new law.

Sweden’s Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard has yet to say what the new salary threshold will be. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

“The goal is to introduce the new maintenance requirement as soon as possible, and we will give more information on the exact limit at a later date,” Stenergard told TT.

In the Tidö coalition agreement, the government and the Sweden Democrats state that the salary threshold should be the same as the average salary, which is currently around 33,000 kronor a month.

Seasonal workers, such as berry pickers, will not be affected by this proposal.

Further tightening up of labour migration laws are also expected in the future. For example, the government wants to investigate if certain professions – such as personal assistants – should be banned from getting work permits. Stenergard has also announced that the so-called ‘track change’, where asylum seekers can switch to other permits, such as work permits, will be abolished.

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