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Five golden rules for a Swedish job interview

You've landed a job interview at a Swedish company, but how should you approach it? Peter Helin - Marketing Coordinator at careerbuilder.se - has given his top tips to The Local.

Five golden rules for a Swedish job interview
The dreaded wait for a job interview. Photo:Shutterstock.
1. Imagine you're on a first date
 

Photo: Shutterstock
 
"The whole thing is like dating and the job application process itself is like online dating," says Helin. "Job seekers are drawn to both jobs that they are attracted to and companies that share similar interests and values. Employers will get the best first impression from candidates with suitable backgrounds who have written a cover letter that fits their own tone, interests and values. 
 
And – just like with a date – if your interview is just them shooting questions at you for an hour then you won't know them at all. It would be a pretty bad date, right?
 
It should be more of a conversation and you should walk away with them thinking they want to marry you. If you're really stuck for a good question, just ask them if they like their own job. But do your homework and come up with a few relevant things beforehand."
 
2. Network, network, network. 
 

Photo: Shutterstock
 
"Find out in advance if there's any mutual friends or connections you have with the interviewer or if you have any friends, old colleagues or study buddies that work for the company you are interviewing for.
 
It’s a small world and chances that you can find a second degree connection that can give you a head-start in the hiring process.
 
Check your social media circuit and look them up on LinkedIn. Another good way to network is to visit career events in your industry in order to get face time with top employers and also get a feel for your own market value at the same time."
 
3. Be careful talking about your strengths 
 
Photo: Shutterstock
 
"Ah, the age old question of "What's your strength". No one wants to brag, so tread delicately here. Your best bet is to answer from another perspective," says Helin.
 
"Say: "Well if you ask my wife or a colleague, who'd be a pretty good judge, they’d probably say that I am a good team player that makes sure that a task or project is completed on time and with great quality. They might also say that I am a solutions driven person with a positive attitude."
 
4. Be even more careful with your weaknesses 
 

Photo: Shutterstock
 
"When it comes to weaknesses, you can't very well say you don't have any – that would be weird, and probably untrue. The best bet is to turn a weakness into a positive. Say you're detail oriented. Say you can be quite detailed focused and that you sometimes spend too much time getting something perfect.
 
Maybe it goes without saying but trying to use this reverse psychology and lessen your own weaknesses by saying something like “I don’t have a lot of patience for people who do not work to my high standards” is a big no no. For you as a candidate, this would only serve as a double negative as it will show that a) you are impatient and b) you are also a poor team player."
 
5. Dress for Success. 
 
Photo: Shutterstock
 
"If you ever think "am I under-dressed?" then you probably are, Peter says.
 
"Swedes are particular about office wear and clothes in general. The golden rule here is that you should be over-dressed until you get a confirmation that it's ok to be casual. Even if its an IT consultancy firm with jeans and converse, that doesn't apply for you until the recruiter says otherwise. Let me stress – no converse for the first interview.
 
Stick with dress shoes and a suit jacket. Be overdressed rather than under-dressed."
 
If you're in Malmö, why not come along and meet Peter and The Local's founder Paul Rapacioli, both of whom will be at the free Career Days event in the Malmö Arena on October 17th. Click here for tickets. For more from CareerBuilder.se, click here
 
 
 

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READER QUESTIONS

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”

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