This week I thought I would share some of my experiences from interviewing for internships in Stockholm. Since my last post, I have been to two different job interviews, and I have to say, for me, there was a noticeable difference from a typical job interview I would normally experience in Toronto! While this is not a “rule” per say, I have also noticed some of these differences during the company visits with Marknadsakademien!
In many cases, Swedish companies seem to have a flat, or more relaxed, hierarchy within the office culture. This can be seen in several different ways including the open space office design, flexible sitting arrangements to maximize collaboration and the dress code to name a few examples. This can also be seen in the interview itself.
The first interview I had was fairly standard in regards to structure and content, but the interviewer had more open ended questions designed to get me talking, rather than focusing on my CV or Cover Letter directly. The interviewer was interested in hearing how my experiences have helped me gain transferable skills, and how my career and study choices have led me to where I am now. If I had to estimate, I would say I spoke about 85% of the time and the interviewer spoke about 15% and that was mostly during the question and answer session at the end. A good rule of thumb, I have been told, is to prepare 2-3 questions for each interview so that it is clear you have researched the position and the company thoroughly.
While you might be thinking, great, interviewing in Stockholm is easier and more relaxed than at home, that is not necessarily the case, and it will vary from interview to interview. The interview is less structured than the “standard” job interview, however you still need to prepare yourself. This less structured format can actually be more challenging since you have to make sure your answers to their questions are direct, concise and linear, so that you aren’t jumping around and creating a path through your career highlights that is hard to follow! Take a minute, think and then dive in.
In many cases, companies may have you complete a project as part of the recruitment process, and here it is important to know your stuff about what they do, how they do it, and their company values. Then, before the interview, make sure you are prepared to talk about your project, defend it and explain it to the interviewer. They may offer praise, constructive criticism or ask you to analyze strong and weak points of it, so be ready and make sure you are open to constructive criticism as well. After all, they are the experts! Getting an internship is about learning, and this feedback is a great opportunity for them to see how you think critically and respond to their comments.
Swedes are also relatively social, and you should expect there to be a little small talk on the way to the interview room. When I was at my second interview, the meeting room was being used so we had to wait for a few minutes before the interview started. While waiting, we talked about both of our hobbies and made a personal connection over shared interests. Don’t be shy about sharing, since it is a great way to determine common interests, so ask questions!
For those of you still searching for an internship, good luck and remember to check out my post on where to start the search process if you haven’t already!
Until next time 🙂