Your professional skills may ­overshadow the personality test

  • Age: 32.
  • Study Programme: Civil Engineering, AAU, 2008.
  • Industrial PhD: Hydrema, 2011.
  • Since May, 2015: Systems Application ­Engineer with Danfoss Power Solutions with a focus on developing systems for, for instance, tractors, excavators and sweeping machines.
  • 2013-2015: Project Engineer with Agito, Norway. He participated in the development of software used for control systems in oil wells, on cranes and on oil rigs in the offshore industry.
  • 2011-2013: CAE Analyst with Volvo Personvagnar, Gothenburg.
  • 2008-2011: PhD project at Hydrema on ride comfort in construction machinery.

Thomas Langer has experienced many types of job interviews – both formal and informal.

As you can gather by reading through Thomas’ CV in the box, he has applied for many jobs. “When I applied for the job in Volvo’s “durability” department, the process was very formal. First, I interviewed with a manager and a team manager. After that, the HR department conducted a personality test. Finally, I completed a written profile test and, last but not least, a drug test,” says Thomas, who worked on determining strength and fatigue loads on cars with Volvo in Gothenburg for two years.

“When you are working with a company where you know no one, it is important to emphasize the subject knowledge you have gained through your studies and previous work experience,” explains Thomas Langer, who was never nervous during the interview. “Tell yourself that the interview is a mutual matching of expectations – the company in questions also needs to convince you that working for them will suit you. Think of the interview as a conversation – that helps,” says Thomas when asked for his best advice for recent graduates looking for jobs.

Thomas is convinced that your professional skills and grades are very likely to overshadow your results on the personality tests when it comes to applying for engineering jobs: “The companies need to find the right person for the job.” Thomas had already worked on some mathematical models that Volvo mentioned in the job advertisement. Thomas completed his PhD project with Hydrema, a company that manufactures construction equipment, which was also a definite bonus in terms of landing the job with Volvo. When Thomas signed his contract with Volvo, he traveled to Sweden for a personal interview. Then he was interviewed online by a HR officer. Because a drug test is mandatory for employees in the Swedish car and machinery industry, he needed to travel to Sweden once more to take the test before his contract became effective. With his back to a nurse, he was urged to pee in a cup which was then tested.

Many ways in which to find a job
Thomas has subsequently worked for a smaller company in Norway before ending up with Danfoss in Nordborg. The recruitment processes have been very different. “Agito in Norway is a small company which I discovered distributed the type of software I typically used for excavators. I called up the managing director who asked me to send a cover letter. Two days later I was asked to come by their office for an interview,” says Thomas about the job that followed his employment with Volvo. Thomas decided to present himself and his qualifications by using PowerPoint because he was applying for a consultancy position that necessitated an employee with a flair for working with customers.

As Thomas applied for his next job with Danfoss to sell technical solutions for agricultural and construction equipment, he found that the process was much easier because he had job experience. Thomas grew up in a rural area, which was definitely a bonus as he was used to operating all sorts of machinery from his past time jobs with farmers and agricultural contractors. Thomas’ professional life is tied together with a common thread from his final project at Aalborg University which turned into a collaboration with Hydrema and the PhD he did for them.

“If you know someone with skills similar to your own who are already working for a particular company, or said company employs people with the same educational background as yours, you may be able to find your next job through your network. Never hesitate to include it in your cover letter,” says Thomas. In the online Danfoss recruitment system, you are allowed to note if you know someone already working for the company. If you keep in touch with your former fellow students, you should already have a considerable network in several companies.