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Scandinavian interviewers: rude or neutral?

How to tell if the interviewer is rude

post 6.Feb.2020, 05:52 PM
Post #1
Joined: 3.Sep.2018

Hi there.

After half a dozen of Internet interviews with Nordic companies taken over a couple of years, I thought I knew the local recruitment culture well enough. However, it was before I had my last, very puzzling experience. I already saw on this forum advices to be unemotional / humourless at Scandinavian interviews. But in my case the interviewer was not just reserved or unemotional, they were (in my eyes) outright hostile.

For example, the person:

1. Made no eye contact or greeting at the start of the interview and never had a hint of a smile. At all previous times the interviewers did smile, just a little bit, but they did.

2. Looked through me when I was talking to them and, during the other interviewer's part, did not look at me at all. In video interviews it is very noticeable when a person turns away their look

3. Interrupted me in a tone of a street hooligan

4. Overall, seemed set on eliminating me from the selection process as soon as possible.

Everything we got in terms of personal contact were rear moments when the interviewer nodded with approval to some of my words. But that was literally it.

All the interviews I hade before this were conducted either in a friendly tone or were neutral but not unfriendly. This one though, was objectively unpleasant. Had not there been another interviewer (who, unlike their colleague, had a nice attitude), I could have possibly cut the whole conversation short.

So, now I would like to ask locals and knowledgeable expats to help me find out if the described behaviour was still within limits of Scandinavian reservedness or was it, as I perceived it, an intentional insult.

Where exactly is that fine line between rude and reserved Scandinavians?

Without being pretenious, I think am good at reading people emotions, no matter people's culture (European, Asian or American). But everyone can be wrong and I still leave a tiny (less than 5%) probability to the fact that it was me who got the situation wrong.

To finish with the facts, at the interview I slightly smiled two or three times, but always remained serious. I was properly dressed and well prepared for the conversation (informed about the company, position and interviewers). Also, I spoke in a normal (not fast, not slow) way and did not seem to have done anything to spoil their mood.

My cultural background is an Eastern Europe native with several years spent in a Latin Western European country. Thus, I understand both the exuberant, extrovert Western culture and the straight to the point, sometimes argumentative culture of the East. But even when considered by Eastern standards, the behaviour of my Scandinavian interviewer was simply not OK.

For me this experience was not far from talking to a robber at 2am in a small post-Soviet industrial town. I mean, you go to an interview to become a part of a nice team, not to end up in a confrontation. Am I right?

The interview was in Sweden's neighbour country (although not in Finland, a country whose residents are perceived as emotionally distant). But taking into account this forum's popularity and the cultural proximity of Nordic countries, this site looks like the best place to ask my question.

As this question is complicated, please mention in your responses whether you are a Scandinavian or an expat, and in the latter case, also how well you know Swedish culture and local job market.

Ideal, although maybe miraculous, reply would contain links to business style photos / videos of reserved Scandinavians vs rude Scandinavians. Visual examples explain a lot.

Thank you for reading and replying. All the best.

PS: Getting the information from the employer directly is not an option. They did not react to my post-interview email and, in any case, I do not have an urge to communicate with disrespectful people.
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Gamla Hälsingebock
post 6.Feb.2020, 07:34 PM
Post #2
Joined: 21.Dec.2006

People everywhere can have a bad day, most likely you were on the receiving end of on...

You cannot use a single experience to try to decide who is or who is not rude in a culture...

Your experience can happen anywhere...
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post 6.Feb.2020, 09:34 PM
Post #3
Location: Stockholm county
Joined: 27.Sep.2017

Not wise to mix Scandinavian and Nordic ;-)

If you meant the interviewer was Danish, don't worry about it, that is normal behavior which becomes worse once you have to work with them! rolleyes.gif

Never have a team of Swedes & Danes work on an initiative together unless you want it to fail! :-D
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post 6.Feb.2020, 11:26 PM
Post #4
Location: Pakistan
Joined: 27.Jan.2020

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post 7.Feb.2020, 08:06 PM
Post #5
Joined: 7.Nov.2017

QUOTE (Gamla H?lsingebock @ 6.Feb.2020, 07:34 PM) *
People everywhere can have a bad day, most likely you were on the receiving end of on...You cannot use a single experience to try to decide who is or who is not rude in a cult ... (show full quote)

QUOTE (Gimp @ 6.Feb.2020, 11:26 PM) *
I agree with the old goat. Don?t judge a large region based on a single experience. Maybe it was a bad day, maybe they disagreed with even moving you forward in the hiring pro ... (show full quote)

Have had a number of interviews in Sweden, with totally uncouth personel. Don't apply at places where they handle everything from engineers to store clerks.
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post 7.Feb.2020, 08:59 PM
Post #6
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

You can meet an ar$ehole in any country. The trick is making sure you avoid having one as your boss.
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post 8.Feb.2020, 12:43 PM
Post #7
Joined: 3.Sep.2018

Thank you all for your comments smile.gif

To move on is often the right decision. Even if it is not always easy to do when you are curious by nature...
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