Culture and jobs

This page offers guidance regarding Norwegian culture and searching for a job as an international student in Norway.

Must you learn Norwegian in order to work in Norway? 

It depends on your job/career goals. If your plan is to have a part time job during your studies, some Norwegian skills would certainly help but they may not be required. Part-time positions in restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, tourism, etc., may view English as sufficient.

However, if you hope to work in Norway after completing a degree programme, Norwegian competence is much more important. Most Norwegian employers expect their employees to be able communicate in Norwegian. Only a minority of Norwegian employers consider English to be sufficient as a working language. 

Cultural context

One Norwegian cultural value is objectivity. In the Norwegian workforce, the value of objectivity translates to this: the person with the highest qualifications is supposed to get the job, period. Hiring may therefore be based mostly on the experience on your CV. It is important, therefore, to create a focused CV, narrowed down to include only the most relevant qualifications. Try to succinctly convince the employer that you have more experience for the job than anyone else!

Understanding cultural context is also vital for the interview process. Expectations for candidate behavior may be different in Norway compared to other countries. While it is necessary to promote your skills, Norwegians’ style of self-representation tends to be low-key. Enthusiastically proclaiming your talents may be perceived negatively.

“Janteloven” (The Law of Jante) is still very much a part of Norwegian culture and dictates that individuals shouldn’t think too much of themselves, especially compared to the importance of the group/society at large. To ensure that you don't appear to be boastful in your interview, it may be helpful to do a practice-interview with a Norwegian that you trust, who will be honest on how you are perceived from a Norwegian perspective.

You may also wish to book a free appointment to consult with a counselor from Sammen Career Center for job seeking advice.


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How to prepare for a job interview