I have a lot of time on my hands right now. That means I’m cleaning out really old e-mails from my inbox. And I stumbled upon this gem. It’s an e-mail sent to my mom, dad, and aunt immediately after a job interview in Sweden for a marketing position at a company focusing on green products.
Names have been altered to protect the innocent. Enjoy.
“Well, I had my interview. It was supposed to start at 10:00. I was done and out of their office at 10:04.
This country never ceases to amaze me. For better or worse. So let me explain.
The interview was supposed to start at 10, but due to the public transportation connection I had the option of being 15 minutes early or 2 minutes early. This being fall, the trains tend to be delayed. Because of leaves. Seriously. Every autumn the leaves fall. But apparently, Stockholm's public transportation has yet to figure out a solution. Anyway, I opted to show up 15 minutes early.
I went in and was offered some coffee. I asked for water instead. By 9:50 I was in the interview with the two women I had interviews with previously, one being French, the other being Swedish, and the CEO of the company, another Swedish woman.
The CEO had not seen my CV. Luckily, I listened to all that nonsense they fed us in business school and had an extra one with me and handed it to her. So I went over the exact same stuff I had already covered in the first interview, except this time in Swedish. Which went well, probably because I already knew how to answer the questions seeing as how I had done it just a couple of weeks earlier in English.
While I thought it a bit strange that the CEO of a company of only 11 employees hadn't seen my CV, the interview got stranger. Solely because I am an American. Having covered my education and a bit of my experience we moved on to some personal information. Like really personal that didn't seem to have much bearing on my ability to do the job or not.
Did I have siblings? Was I the oldest? What do my siblings do? Where do my parents live? What do my parents do? Pappa works in jordbruk, by the way. I left out the chemicals part. Do I have a family here in Sweden? This meaning, very obviously, whether I had a girlfriend/sambo/wife and children. Where do I live?
Of course, in the first interview I was asked how old I was.
Never before have I been asked these questions in a job interview. And from my American perspective, a couple of them seem borderline illegal. But here? No problem.
I was asked again why I applied for the job. Once again, I responded that I was very interested in the marketing aspect, the international aspect, and the small-business aspect. It was the CEO that had asked this question and she was obviously fishing for the environmental spin to things. In fact, at first I only responded with the international and marketing part, but she delved deeper. And asked me again for more reasons. But I couldn't do it. I couldn't give it to her. So I gave her the small-business thing.
For a second I considered going the environmental route. Espousing the teachings of the great Al Gore, railing against big oil, damning the use of pesticides and all that could potentially harm the environment. Then I remembered that I hate Al Gore, big oil is one of the few stocks that I have picked that actually made money, and pesticides are responsible for all economic success in the family household. Whether that plays a big role in me being offered the job or not I don't know, but I didn't want to go down that road.
Anyway, following the personal information the two women I had interview with earlier each asked me one more question. And that was it. The whole thing took 14 minutes.
The whole time I was thinking that more questions were going to be coming my way. Questions about my experience. Actual examples of things I had accomplished. Maybe a list of references. Nothing.
The funny thing is that all the while I was answering my questions I was looking at each of the three women, not just the one who asked the question. From the overall body language and other non-verbal cues, the two women I had interviewed with previously loved me. It's probably my boyish charms and good looks. Plus I gave a little spritz of cologne before I left the house for good measure. Unfortunately, the CEO was not wooed by me. Honestly, my first reaction was of an old disillusioned man-hating hippie (if I get a job offer and accept it, I will deny any knowledge of the aforementioned description). She seemed distracted, annoyed, cold, and distant. Which may explain the incredibly short interview. Fourteen minutes short.
It's down to me and one other candidate. They have yet to interview the other candidate a second time so we'll see how it goes. Now I just get to wait. To be honest though, I felt much more confident after the first interview than I do right now. But as I said before, this country never ceases to amaze me. Hell, I might get a call tomorrow asking me to start on Monday. Of course, it seems equally as likely that I won't get any call at all. It's a crapshoot at this point. But if you know of any sports jobs back home... I'm all ears.”
I ended up getting the job. And held it until I quit to move out of the country.
Welcome (back) to Sweden. And job interviews.
Subscribe to a Swedish American in Sweden