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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: What do we know so far about Sweden’s new ‘talent visa’?

In the new work permit law which comes into force on June 1st, Sweden is launching a new nine-month 'talent visa', which will allow “some highly qualified individuals” to get temporary residency while they look for jobs or plan to launch a business. What do we know so far?

EXPLAINED: What do we know so far about Sweden's new 'talent visa'?

When was the law passed and when does it come into force? 

The parliament passed the new law on April 21st, and the final text of the change in the law was published on May 5th. It will come into force on June 1st. 

What does the new law say about the ‘talent visa’? 

It says that “in certain cases”, a temporary residency permit can be granted to a foreigner who wants to “spend time in the country to look for work or to look into the possibility of starting a business”. 

To qualify the applicant must: 

  • have completed studies equivalent to an advanced level degree 
  • have sufficient means to support themselves during their stay and to cover the cost of their return trip 
  • have fully comprehensive health insurance which is valid in Sweden 

How long can people initially stay in Sweden under the talent visa? 

The residency permit will be valid for a maximum of nine months.

Which agency will assess applications for the talent visa? 

The government has decided that applications should be assessed by the Migration Agency. The Migration Agency will publish more details on the requirements, such as what qualifies as an advanced degree, what documents need to be submitted, and how much capital applicants will need to show they can support themselves, in the coming weeks. 

The Migration Agency is also likely to develop a form for those wishing to apply for the talent visa. 

What level of education is necessary? 

What is meant by an “advanced degree” has not been set ou in the law, but according to Karl Rahm, who has helped draw up the law within the Ministry of Justice, a master’s degree (MA or MSc), should be sufficient. 

How much capital will applicants need to show that they have? 

According to Rahm, the amount of money applicants will need to show that they have is likely to be set at the same level as the minimum salary for those applying for a work permit, which is currently 13,000 kronor a month. If he is right, this means that someone applying for a nine-month visa would have to show that they have 117,000 kronor (€11,259) in saved capital, plus extra for their trip back to their home country.

READ ALSO: How will the new work permit law just passed in Sweden affect foreigners?

Can applicants bring children and spouses? 

“You will not be able to bring your family with this kind of visa, since the idea is that it’s for a relatively limited amount of time,  just to see if there is employment for you, or if there is a chance of starting a business,” says Elin Jansson, deputy director at the Ministry of Justice, who helped work on the new visa. “And if you do decide to stay in Sweden, then you apply for a regular work permit for starting up a business, and then you can bring your family.” 

Where will detailed information on the requirements for a talent visa be published? 

The Migration Agency will publish detailed requirements on the talent visa on its Working in Sweden page when the law starts to apply on June 1st. 

What is the reason for the talent visa? 

Those searching for a job or researching starting a new business in Sweden can already stay for up to 90 days with a normal Schengen visa. The idea behind the talent visa is to give highly educated foreigners a little longer to decide if they want to find a job or set up a business in the country before they need to go the whole way and launch a company. 

How many people are expected to apply? 

In the government inquiry on the new work permit law, experts estimated that about 500 people would apply for the new talent visa each year, but it could end up being either much more, or less. 

“It’s really hard to tell. There could be a really big demand. I don’t think it’s anyone can really say before this comes into effect,” Jansson said. 

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