Tuesday, March 1, 2011

At least I looked a little Swedish

JenniferSo today marks a real milestone in my life: my first job interview for a non-academic position, and an interview held in a foreign language at that.

When I was offered to have a job interview with Livsmedelsverket, I had answered the phone and then set up the time in English. The potential boss, who called me, and who would be doing the interview along with three others, said that it would be okay for us to have the interview in English. But somehow, when I got there this morning and said hello and a few other words in Swedish to him, he decided that there was no reason not to do the whole thing in Swedish. "Men du får svara på engelska, det går bra," he said.

Well thank goodness for that, at least, because I can muddle through "Hej, hur läget?" and "Dåligt väder idag" okay, but discussing science, or using what some folks might call good grammar, is just a tad beyond my feeble skills at this point. (But I should say thank goodness also for the last few weeks of physical therapy I have been doing, because the therapists have been insisting to do everything in Swedish, with the result that I feel quite a bit more confident about my listening skills than I did even at the start of the year.)

Of course I was told during the initial phone contact that it would be better if I spoke Swedish, so to make up for the fact that I do not, I made up my mind to look as Swedish as possible. And I think I did that pretty well, at least. Everyone else was also wearing jeans and comfortable shoes.

For some reason, I have just now remembered that my father, when feeling playful, likes to credit me with single-handedly inventing the saying "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullroar."

Well, I gave it my best shot, and I think maybe I will get a little extra credit for at least trying in Swedish. And every interview is good practice for the next one. For instance, in the future I will be better prepared for the question "What would you do if you had your day planned out but your boss came to you and wanted you to do something else?"

My answer was "Well, I would probably do it."

To which their response was: "Probably?" (chortles all around the table)

Hmmm. Well, so we'll just see how that goes.


  1. Depends if the boss is right, doesn't it?

  2. I'm still not sure what the right answer is! (As far as I can tell, Swedes are firm believers in the hierarchy; on the other hand, they're not German) But I think my further clarification was that it would depend on what exactly the thing was that the boss wanted me to do. Is that close to "if boss is right"?