Job interview

 

It may be very different what you can expect from job interviews in Denmark.
 

Good to know about a job interview in Denmark:

  • There are different types of interviews – one-on-one, committee, case interviews, and telephone interviews
  • You might have to go to several interviews for one job
  • You might have to take some tests, e.g. personality or numerical tests
  • Be punctual, confident and - above all - well prepared!
     

The 30-60-90-day plan for job interviews

A great tool to impress at the job interview (or can also be used when writing an unsolicited job application) is the 30-60-90 day plan. You will take the floor at the interview, show initiative and that you have thought about what you will be doing the first 3 months at the company. Read more about the 30-60-90-day plan here.
 

Please find guides and advice for interviews below.

  • +

    Before the interview

    how to prepare

    Since Danish recruiters will ask about your personal competences, results, career ambitions, personality and motivation, it is your primary preparation to go through your CV and application and relate it to the job you are interviewed for.

    In your application, you have also matched the company’s wishes - be make sure to go through it again in order to have your job interview pitch perfected.

     

    Prepare your answers to the top 5 interview questions:

    1. Tell me about yourself
    2. What is your greatest strength?
    3. What is your greatest challenges?
    4. Why should we hire you?
    5. Describe a difficult work situation/project and how you overcame it.

    In Denmark you do not have to worry when telling about a challenge which did not go well – as long as you elaborate on what you learned from this experience. Reflections and self-acknowledgement will make you more trustworthy.

    Practice the stories out loud or together with fellow students, family etc. as you will become more self-confident  when practicing - and you will also realize which examples/stories you need to practice more.

     

    Prepare descriptions and examples of your competences

    (E.g. successes in a project, challenges in a job etc.).

    Make sure to give examples of where have you demonstrated competences, for example such as:

    • people skills (working as a receptionist)
    • being structured (semester projects with focus on the tight timeline)
    • goal oriented (volunteer at AIESEC, making sure that X number of company sponsors).

     

    Think of examples that are relevant from the employer's point of view

    For example, how does this story/skill benefit the company? Do you demonstrate that you are able to improve a process?

     

    Test and profiles

    The Danish employer may ask you to participate in an online assessment test such as personality analysis, IQ test etc., before the interview or between several interviews.

    Tests and profiles gives the employer and you a foundation for discussing more in depth. With the dimensions of for example a personality profile, you can better discuss details and see if there is the right match between the job and your profile. You can often find different free tests online which can help you understand how the tests are formed, hereby preparing you.

    Be sincere in your personality profile assessment! It can be tempting to try to form your answers to what you think the company wants to see – it is, of course, necessary to hire a ‘people person’ when looking for a sales rep – but doesn’t automatically mean that you can predict what they want. Even if you manage to fit their wish list completely, you risk ending up with a job you hate, because the position was designed for someone with a different personality.

    The personality profile also helps the company tailor the questions you will get in your interview.

     

    Research and prepare questions

    It leaves a good impression and shows your motivation for the job, when you come well prepared for the job interview.

    You should therefore also research the company at their website etc. and prepare questions, you can ask during the interview. What would you like to know to find out if the job, the colleagues and the tasks are something, you will thrive by?

    Also remember to prepare an answer regarding your motivation for the job and this company/organization – and remember to repeat it in some form at the end of the interview as a last good impression of you (but of course only if you still feel the motivation for the job).

  • +

    Skype and phone interviews

    During recruitment processes companies are increasingly making use of interviews over Skype or phone – either as part of the initial screening process or as the actual job interview. Here are some tips for being prepared for these kinds of interviews.

     

    Prepare as for any other interview

    The questions and expectations will be similar to a regular interview. Therefore, be prepared to answer typical job interview questions about your reason for applying, your strengths and weaknesses as well as what you can bring to a company or organization.

    Remember to research the company in order to be able to display your knowledge about and interest in this specific job as well as the company as a whole.

     

    Choose your location carefully

    There are several reasons for this part to be important.

    First of all, you have to be sure that you choose a place with a stable internet connection or phone service. There is nothing worse than the computer freezing during an interview.

    Second, choose a neutral background and dress as you would have for a face-to-face interview – even if you are doing an interview over phone, this will help you feel professional and comfortable during the interview. Also, be aware that there is no disturbing factors, noises or people, near you during the interview.

     

    Look into the camera

    If you are doing a Skype interview, be aware not to look at the screen but rather into the camera. Thereby, you will look the interviewers in the eye while talking to them. Furthermore, be sure to sit up straight, preferably at a table – do not chose the couch for comfort as this will look sloppy.

     

    Take notes and have your CV ready

    During the interview, it can be a good idea to take notes in order to be sure not to forget relevant questions or comments. Also, have your cv by hand to be able to reiterate your professional competencies and capabilities. Do not, however, or write down everything that is said or read out loud from your cv. Use notes and your cv as a guiding help.

     

    Do not interrupt

    Skype and phone interviews present a challenge, because it can be difficult to know when to comment on or answer a question when you are not in the same room as the interviewer.

    Therefore, be sure to listen carefully, notice the tone of the interviewer’s questions and comments (this might indicate whether the person is finished talking), and do not interrupt. Rather, take a second after the end of the interviewer’s questions, to be sure that it is your turn to speak. Be not afraid of a few seconds of silence where you take time to e.g. drink a glass of water and gather your thoughts – this is completely okay, as it would be during a face-to-face interview.

     

    Ask (good) questions

    Like regular interviews, it is important to ask relevant questions. After researching the company, you might have something you want to ask. Good questions could e.g. be about career enhancement opportunities in the company, interaction with other departments, or elaboration on expectations and challenges in the job.

    As with any other job interview, do not ask about salary, vacation, and other benefits. This will come up later if the company wants to hire you.

     

    Follow up

    At the end of the interview, ask about next steps in the application process and make sure to get the email address of the interviewer. After the interview, follow up on via email where you thank for a pleasant interview but also reiterate your strengths and value for the company. This will enhance your chances of being remembered as a good candidate for the job.

  • +

    At the Job Interview

    what to think of

    We recommend you to visit the website howtoliveindenmark.com which has many useful articles about living and understanding Danes and the working culture. In the following we have used many of the articles as inspiration.

     

    Punctuality

    Danes love punctuality, so do everything you can to be on time for your interview, because it will leave a bad impression if you are late. A good advice is to go to the company address the day before to make sure that you know how to get there. It is better to be 15 minutes early and kill some time in the reception than be racing through the door 10 minutes late, sweating and swearing. To arrive 5 minutes before the meeting is optimal.

     

    The unspoken rules of making a good atmosphere

    5 pieces of advice:

    1. When you meet the hiring manager, shake his or her hand and make direct eye contact. Should she introduce you to more people, do the same for each of them – reach out your hand (even if you have to awkwardly reach across a table to do so), say your name clearly, and make eye contact; also during the interview even if only one person interviews you. The Danes see eye contact as a mark of trustworthiness and confidence.
      Please also note that it is normal to have several people present at the job interview – especially at public organizations – and the hiring committee can easily consist of 4-5 people.
       
    2. The hiring manager will probably offer some tea or coffee, please accept this as a sign of politeness – even if you do not really feel the urge for it.
       
    3. You can expect some small talk while all this is going on, so if you’re not the naturally chatty type it can be useful to come pre-equipped with some comments about the weather, the difference between Danish weather and your home country’s weather, compliments on the building/facilities of company or similarly non-controversial topics.
       
    4. Once you sit down, your Danish job interviewer may try to warm up the conversation with few questions about your personal life, mostly to get you relaxed and get a sense of you as an individual or gauge how committed you are to staying in Denmark. You can stick to brief generalities here; there is no need to disclose any information that makes you uncomfortable.
       
    5. Once seated, also have the job ad, application, CV, your prepared questions, paper and pen ready.

     

    Disagreement is okay

    One of the most difficult things, if you come from a hierarchical culture with greater power distance than in Denmark, is to learn that it is perfectly okay to disagree with your Danish boss, assuming you do so respectfully and have facts to back up your point of view.

    In fact, your manager will probably be frustrated if you act like a yes-man and fail to point out obvious flaws in their arguments that might lead to a bad decision. If you have an idea it is expected from you to come forward with it.

    Your problem based learning skills from AAU (such as discussion, compromise, investigating/researching for at solution, and very importantly identifying the core of the problem) come very handy when you think of how you should state your points at a job interview. Danish companies expect if you stand up for yourself, not being too humble.

     

    What should you wear at the interview?

    The Danes are not formal people and this surprises sometimes internationals looking for a job in Denmark when comparing with their own job seeking culture.

    It is always better to dress up than down, since it sends a signal of you taking the job interview seriously – but of course, you should not feel uncomfortable in your clothes. You can dress in both a nice sweater, a shirt and trousers/jeans/skirt and some shoes of a type you might wear on the job. A business suit will also be fine in many cases, however you will experience that in some sectors it is not often used.

    Another alternative is to look at the company’s website for photos of personnel and see what he or she wears in a business context, and then come dressed like that – or go by the company the day before around 16 o´clock and see how people are dressed, if you feel very uncertain about this.

  • +

    After the job interview

    What is next?

     

    Should you follow up after the interview?

    Sending a brief email the next day is a nice touch. Saying ‘Tak for sidst’ and adding a couple short bullet points about why you’re right for the job is a way of showing a sincere interest; this is also a good time to supply any additional information the interviewer asked for during your meeting.

    Then – leave it alone. If they’re interested, you will hear from them within a couple of weeks, certainly less than a month.

    If they do get in touch, you may just be at the beginning of a long hiring process that could include more interviews, more tests, and frustrating delays.

     

    more sessions of interviews for the job

    If you are lucky that you continue in the interviewing phase, you might be called in for more interviews, tests or an assessment day. See the articles below for information about assessment days.

     

    If you do get an offer for a job in Denmark

    Your future employer will probably send you a contract to sign. Keep in mind that if you are a member of a union, you can have the union’s legal team review the contract to make sure it is fair to you. It is not mandatory to be organized in a union i Denmark. Your employer won’t be surprised or offended by this. It’s standard practice – and it’s a particularly good idea if you’re handed a contract that’s all in Danish.
     

    Working and living in Denmark

    We recommend you to visit different websites with lots of articles, videos and blogs about living in Denmark, understanding Danes, the working culture etc.

    For example:

    Google this and also note that many municipalities have information directed at international citizens.