Preparing for the interview is vital
Prior to the interview, it is imperative that you do research to become as familiar with the company as possible. Look into the company’s history, current activities, annual report, competition and future plans. You will most probably already have researched the company when writing the CV and cover letter. Yet, there is no such thing as being too prepared – this will ensure that you can match your skills to the position and ask relevant questions that will impress the employer.
Preparation ensures that you are more confident heading into the interview – a good trick if you tend to become a bit nervous!
Although the business climate in Scandinavia is generally informal, the dress code for a job interview is almost always formal and conservative. Men should generally wear business suits and ties, while women should wear skirt suits or formal dresses. However, if you are going to an interview at a young startup, you probably don’t want to show up in a suit. If you are in doubt, it is considered appropriate to ask about the dress code beforehand. You could do this in connection with confirming the interview and obtaining more information.
Punctuality is essential in the Nordic countries, so arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the interview. Remember to remain eye contact and greet the people you meet with a firm handshake.
As Scandinavians work in a very egalitarian work environment, you typically get further by displaying modesty and courtesy rather than over-confidence and boldness. Similarly, most companies are looking for people to fit in with their culture – so you will be better off preparing examples of how you typically perform in a team rather than highlighting your individual achievements.
If you have not been asked to send them along with your application, you should bring diplomas and references along with you to the interview. It is also a good idea to bring your cover letter, CV and the job advertisement along with you.
When foreigners attend job interviews in Scandinavia, cultural aspects are often a bigger hindrance to the applicants than language barriers. Many people are not used to the typical Scandinavian structure where it initially is the employer’s time to speak and then that of the applicant. Situational judgement of when it is appropriate to speak is therefore considered one of the most important factors when being interviewed in Nordic countries.
You should aim to effectively demonstrate your knowledge of the industry and the company. You should be prepared to answer all kinds of questions, as interviewers ask you about your strengths as well as weaknesses. It is, therefore, a good idea to prepare stories and examples that you can present at the interview. Asking questions about the job is to your advantage. These could be about the company’s future, training opportunities, social activities etc. However, you should avoid raising salary issues too early in the interview - it’s a delicate matter and should be dealt with cautiously in regards to the context.
It could be to your advantage to demonstrate that you are familiar with the Nordic way of life, perhaps even using a few local phrases.
Depending on the position and company, you can commonly expect 2-3 interviews. The first interview is meant for the employer to get an overall idea of you. The subsequent interviews, besides being more detailed, may also include tests of various kinds. Psychological tests are becoming increasingly popular amongst larger companies. During such tests intelligence, social and communication skills and management qualities are tested.
After the interview, remember to write an e-mail thanking the interviewers – this is typically considered an indication of your interest in the position. This should be kept short and professional.