Job applications in Norway

Cover letters, CV's and job interviews

Before applying for a job in Norway, make sure you have fully researched the company with whom you're applying to, i.e. its history, its current operations and plans for the future. This knowledge will enable you to match your skills to the company's needs, and also means you can ask relevant questions during the interview process.

As previously mentioned, most jobs in Norway require knowledge of Norwegian, despite some exceptions within some technical areas and in the tourism industry. Most municipalities in Norway will offer free Norwegian language classes for anyone who has received a job offer.

Cover letters in Norway

Generally speaking, a cover letter should generate enough interest to make any potential employer want to look at your application in more detail and then ask to interview you. However, make sure you do not provide too much information about your previous work experience and qualifications, as this should be provided in your CV.

In Norway, cover letters tend to be short, factual and direct. Describe personal characteristics and irrespective of whether you know the name of the recipient, always address your cover letter anonymously (e.g. Dear sir/madam). If you do know the name of the recipient, mention his or her name in the address of the company, or at least the name of the department to which you are applying.

Within the cover letter, you should always state your reasons for applying for the job. Mention your address, name and telephone number.

If you are supplying any references, make sure to mention them in both the cover letter and in your CV. Also, some employers may prefer to read your CV in either English or Norwegian. Therefore, it is advised that you send copies in both languages.

The Curriculum Vitae

CV's in Norway will not differ much from CV's that you are used to in your home country. A CV is usually written in reversed chronological order, with your most recent activities and experiences first.

The CV should start with your personal details: name, address, date of birth (note that the day, month and year are written densely together without blank spaces or dots in between), your telephone number (with international access code) and your civil status. You may also wish to include your hobbies and interests in this section. If not, you can mention this right at the end of your CV.

Continue with your education, including your exam results, your practical experience, your language skills and any references (if you have not included them in your cover letter).

Under the “work experience” section, mention the companies you have worked for in the past. If you are mentioning any previous employer as a reference, you should make sure that they are aware you have done so. Also, it is recommended that you reference people who have agreed to say something positive about you - there is nothing worse than a prospective employer checking a given reference, only to find out that they cannot remember you, or that they are not going to say anything particularly positive.

In recent years, it has become increasingly popular to apply for jobs via the internet. As this may be more convenient for a vast majority of people, you should be aware that an online application and electronic CV, differ in appearances to a standard, written one.

Job interviews in Norway

Although business attire in Norway tends to be casual, you should dress conservatively for a job interview. As with most Western countries, suits and ties are appropriate for men and women should wear tailored suits.

An interview will generally begin with introductions, handshakes and perhaps a bit of small talk. Remember to address people by their formal titles (Dr., Mr., Mrs. or Miss.) and their last names.

During the interview, be respectful, do not brag and avoid familiarity. Norwegians are generally well-educated and will expect you to be knowledgeable, competent and well-spoken.

Be prepared to answer many questions about yourself and about your strong and weak points. You will also probably be asked to describe your mid and long-term goals (e.g. What do you want to have achieved in five years time?). Questions on religion, political or cultural aspects of your life are not allowed.

Make sure you arrive on time, which is preferably at least ten minutes before the interview begins. It is advised that you bring copies of your testimonials and diplomas with you.

If you are applying for a job within the public sector, there must be a trade union representative present to ensure that the interview progresses according to particular rules.

Further reading

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