Culture and Norwegian jobs

Photo: Colourbox

Culture and Norwegian jobs

Written by: Study Bergen

Photo: Colourbox

This page offers guidance regarding Norwegian culture and searching for a job as an international student in Norway. It is based in part on an interview with Bergen Chamber of Commerce’s business policy advisor in diversity, inclusion and education, Iver.  You can "meet Iver" here. 

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, 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. You can read about resources for learning Norwegian here.

Cultural context

One Norwegian cultural ideal is objectivity. In the Norwegian workforce the ideal 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 in your CV. It is important, therefore, to create a targeted CV, narrowing it down to include only the most relevant qualifications. Try to succiently 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: it dictates that individuals shouldn’t think too much of themselves, especially as compared to the importance of the group/society at large. In order to ensure that you don't appear to be bragging in your interview, it may be helpful to do practice interview with a Norwegian you trust to be honest about 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 & Counseling for cultural and practical job seeking advice.

Global Bergen

Bergen is a region with international connections. There are many organizations with global connections based here. Your international background may be especially valuable to one of these companies. If you are interested in applying your cultural competencies to work within an international Norwegian company either in Norway or abroad you can look for local companies with an international presence on this page


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