Norway: Recruitment

January 2015. Posted in Int. Skills, Recruiting

Norway: Recruitment


Introduction to recruitment in Norway

When it comes to Norwegian recruitment, there are three things to keep in mind. First of all, you should learn the Norwegian language. This will greatly improve your chances of finding a job. Secondly, dress appropriately. This means suiting up. Thirdly, be on time for the interview; at least fifteen minutes in advance. You only get one first impression, better make it count!

In this article you will find information on the following topics:

  • Where to look for a job
  • What to put on your resume
  • How to write your application letter
  • The Norwegian job interview
  • What to expect at the workplace

Still not found what you are looking for? Take a look at our Norwegian survey results, or listen to our interview with a Norwegian HR manager!


Country introduction

Norway (officially the Kingdom of Norway) is located on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It has around five million inhabitants and two official languages: Norwegian and Sami. There are two written forms of Norwegian: Bokmål and Nynorsk. The overall majority uses Bokmål.

Nowadays, this country ranks among the richest countries in the world when it comes to the GDP per capita. However, it was only a hundred years ago, that Norway was considered one of the poorer countries of Europe. It took them till 1950 before they caught up to Western Europe. The staggering economic growth the country has seen over the past decades can partially be traced back to the large income from its natural resources including hydroelectric power, petroleum and fisheries.


Where to look for a job

You are most likely to find a job through the use of online job sites or a recruitment consultancy. According to a survey held by CCBS (2014), the following two Norwegian websites are considered the most successful:

* Finn Jobb

If you do not manage to find a job on here, you may have more luck through using a recruitment consultant. Popular consultancies include Adecco, Aktiv-Personell, Kelly Services, Manpower and Proffice.


What to put on your resume

A CV in Norway is the chance to make a good impression on a potential employer. A very professional and a well-structured CV will boost the chance of getting a job interview, so this is worth spending effort and time. A Norwegian top-quality CV usually consists of different headers.

The CV should start with personal information. It should include your name, title, address, telephone number, date of birth and email address.
The next major part is the yrkeserfaring, also known as working experience. Experience is very important in the Norwegian business. This part should start with the oldest jobs and end with the most recent work experience.

The next section is the utdannelse this means education. The most recent academic achievements should be mentioned first. Grades and academic achievements are very valuable in Norway, therefore academic transcripts are usually added with the CV.

In the fourth part, personal interests are mentioned. Think of special skills, knowledge, personal interests, intern positions etc. For young recruits it is appreciated to add extra-curriculum activities for example charity work.

Finally, it ends with references, but usually on request only. To personalise one’s résumé, many applicants sign the bottom of their CV. Some people personalize their CV by adding a photo, although this is not very usual.


How write your application letter

A søknadsbrev (application letter) should create enough interest to get invited for a job interview. Therefore, it requires good preparation for creating a good application letter.

It is advised to write a new tailored cover letter for each job you apply to. Your cover letter should stand from the other applicants by being factual, concise and to the point.

A cover letter should be interesting, personal, an easy to read letter and tell why you are the right person for the job.

The application letter should start anonymous with Dear Sir/Madam in Norwegian Kjære herr eller fru. If you know the name of the recipient, mention the in the address of the company. It is recommended to explain why you are applying and why you are suitable for the job. End the letter by showing your willingness to come for an interview.

As mentioned in the earlier, basic knowledge of the Norwegian language is an advantage and it is therefore advised to send the copies in both Norwegian and English.


The Norwegian job interview

In Norway it is advised to come on time for a job interview. Arriving late for a job interview in Norway is considered impolite. Therefore, it is advised to arrive at least ten to fifteen minutes in advance.

Business attire in Norway tends to be casual, wearing t-shirts and shorts in the summer. But for a job interview it is advised to dress formal, suits and ties for men and suits for women.

Norwegian job interviews are formal, generally meeting the interviewer start with a handshake with eye contact. You should keep in mind address people by title and surname.

During the interview, there is not much personal chat as the Norwegian business culture that tends to be straight to the point.

You should be prepared for common questions like: “Tell me about yourself”, “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “what do you want to accomplish”. It is important to do your homework and answers these questions, in order to earn trust and build up reliability. At the end of the interview it is possible to ask questions to the interviewer, as long it is not about salaries and reimbursements.


What to expect at the work place

The Norwegian business culture is achievement based. You will mostly be working with people of similar status. However, the gap between managers and their employees is usually very small. Feedback towards the higher management is common and highly appreciated.

Norwegian place a high value on honesty and trust. Direct criticism is avoided. If you need to confront someone, best you do this in private. Norwegians do not like to lose face in front of others.

Unlike during the initial job interview, Norwegian tend to dress rather casually at work. Although you may feel more at ease wearing a suit, colleagues may show up in t-shirts and shorts. This usually depends on the sector you choose to work in. Suits are still mandatory in sectors such as aviation, logistics and finance.


Survey results

The do’s and don’ts within the Norwegian business were found in our conducted survey under Norwegians and found in the interview (CCBS, 2014). Like other countries in Scandinavia, the language is very important when applying for a job.

These are some quotes from the survey: “Norwegian is the common language for applications, however a number of international companies demand English applications only”. “Learn the language before you start applying for a job in Norway. It is very hard to find a job if you do not speak the Norwegian language”.

A written application letter in Norwegian is also a favourable demand: “Attempt to write an application in Norwegian, but only if your Norwegian is good enough”. Another professional stated that “English is only for highly educated professionals, otherwise the application letter has to be in Norwegian”.

Being honest and polite is the way to enter a job interview. Being well prepared and making fair use of eye contact are other aspects which can positively affect the job interview. As Norwegians tend to have a flat business culture, the dress code is quite informal: “Applicants can wear almost anything as long as it is formal”.


Interview with Norwegian HR manager

The interviewee Jostein Haga has many years of experience in the management field and worked for international and local Norwegian businesses. His current function is strategic advisor for recruitment.

The Norwegian business has an overall flat company structure which makes it easy accessible for expats and overall they feel welcome and fit in easily. This flat structure makes it hard for employer to fire a person because it makes them feel like they lose face and respect towards the other employees.

This is why its uncommon a person gets fired, especially in a public company. Because of strict law and regulations regarding the firing policy, it is normal to offer employees a salary package of a 9-12 month salary as a compensation. Management of larger companies can raise the bar though set requirements. The employees who cannot meet those, will quit themselves. Smaller companies tend to give a person the feeling they don’t fit in.

This way of firing people can be characterized from the fact that Norwegian communication is very indirect and under the lines. No positive or negative is given usually as Norwegians are not comfortable in confronting conflicts, they are usually resolved by showing indirect behaviours and giving indirect signals.

The work mentality of Norway can be described as honest, polite and a strong feeling of social coherence between co-workers. This is a reason why it is best not to have too much of a strong personal agenda, whereas working only for your own benefits and personal agenda will work against you.