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Phone interview and the Graduate Recruitment Centre – key tips for success

Category: Business IT Business Processes European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing | 31 comments

Dear reader,

Thank you for your application! This year we received an all-time record of applications, with close to 7.000 eager candidates. As we are committed to read every single application, we are already busy getting more acquainted with you.

Many of you are curiously pondering the next steps of the application process. Therefore, keep your eyes and ears open, useful tips will follow as I will introduce you to the next steps in the process!

Phone interview (-end of February)

After the application screening, we will invite a selected number of candidates for a phone interview, lasting between 30 and 45 minutes. We are targeting to complete all telephone interviews with selected candidates before the end of February.

Personally I found these five points the most important when preparing for a telephone interview:

  • Ensure proper facilities. Make sure to have a calm place for your interview, a place where you won’t be disturbed and where you feel comfortable at. Also, it’s very important that you have a good telephone connection, so communicating with the interviewer can be done smoothly and you can focus on what’s important.
  • Make time. Book an extra 20 minutes of your time for the interview in case of any delay. Some of us (such as myself) are a bit more elaborate over the phone, and therefore the interview might turn out to be a little bit longer than expected.
  • Be prepared to explain why. Read your CV and your cover letter, and go through your key points. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your CV and elaborate further on your own motivation towards the industry, the company and the programme. Think of different examples you could share in order to expand on your past challenges, success stories and learning points.
  • A little desk research never hurts. Your knowledge of Novo Nordisk’s business is certainly not the key focus at this stage, but getting an idea for yourself might prove very useful. Knowing the very basics of Novo Nordisk would be likely to crystallize your own direction as well.
  • Relax. I cannot emphasize this enough: there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of about the telephone interview. As long as you make sure not to dive into it without some preparation, you will do great. Have a good breath of fresh air and put on your best smile, it sounds crazy but even over the telephone it sets the right mood.

Graduate Recruitment Centre (Copenhagen, Denmark 19 – 20 March)

After the completion of the phone interviews, 150 candidates will receive an invitation to the Graduate Recruitment Centre in Copenhagen. The purpose of the GRC is to evaluate applicants’ skills and capabilities on an individual and group level, using different exercises, interviews and a business case.

Five key tips for preparing for the GRC:

  • Present yourself as the person you are. Yes, it sounds like the ultimate cliché, but being yourself is probably the most important thing for you to be successful. As you will be evaluated by recruiting professionals, you do best by being genuine and sincere. Any other tactic will not take you far.
  • Reflect your motivation. Go back to your CV and your motivation letter and reflect upon yourself as an applicant. Why do I want this job? Why do I find this industry so fascinating? Why do I want to become a part of Novo Nordisk as a graduate? How do I want to develop as a young professional? What do I want from the programme?
  • Where would I fit best? Take a moment to consider your professional ambitions behind becoming a graduate. Be completely honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and try to picture yourself working within the pharmaceutical industry as a graduate. What do I wish to experience? Where would I wish to go? What do I wish to achieve? At this point, reading a little more about the business and Novo Nordisk would be likely to help clarifying your initial vision.
  • Have a good rest. Take it easy on the day before, maybe get some exercise and then invest in a full night’s sleep. The GRC is an exciting and intensive two-day event, and therefore the energy will be needed.
  • Relax and enjoy every bit of it. The GRC is always a unique and fun experience for the participants. Most of all, it’s a social event by nature, and a fantastic opportunity to get together with great people from all over the world. So remember a big smile, it will take you places! =)

Questions are warmly welcome. Good luck and keep on shining!


Check out a video from the Graduate Recruitment Centre 2012:

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31 Comments to Phone interview and the Graduate Recruitment Centre – key tips for success

  1. Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
    Violeta says:

    Hello Antti!

    Thanks for the input. Just one quick question: will you announce everyone by end of February, be it for positive or negative feedback? Or only the successful ones will get the news?

  2. Posted February 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Hi Violeta!

    Great to hear you found it useful! Everyone will receive an answer by the end of February. Either it will be an invitation for an interview or a rejection e-mail. Good luck! =)


  3. Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
    Olga says:

    Hi Antti!

    Thanks for the very timely post. It looks not only useful but also calming :)

    2 questions from my part:
    – who will run phone interviews on behalf of Novo? to speak to 500 graduates in such a short time must be quite a challenge for HR :)
    – what kind if interview – skype/phone/similar (what’s meant by similar?) – would you personally recommend?

    Thanks in advance!



  4. Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink
    Saeid says:

    Hi Antti

    Thanks for the tips. I just want to know who is interviewing candidates. Will a candidate talk to one person or a group of people ?


  5. Posted February 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink
    Monique Hinds says:

    Hi Antti
    Thanks for your insight, its nice to read the comments to get an idea about what to expect but also calming and reassuring to read the current graduates’ experiences. I am wary about using the term “rejection”. I am sure that the majority of the applicants, like myself are extremely qualified and motivated. The overwhelming response is not only indicative of the program itself but also of the current economic climate. Ove Ovesen also mentions that even if you are not successful in the Graduate program that there are other opportunities within the company with 4,000 persons being hired this year. “Rejection” can be interpreted as not being good enough and I believe this is not the case for many applicants. Maybe we can call it “Letter of Recognition / Recognition Letter” whereas the company is appreciative of your application but due to the limited space and overwhelming response they are unable to offer you a position in the graduate program but urge you to apply to other positions within the company where you skills may be utilize.
    Just a thought :)
    Thanks again
    Monique Hinds

  6. Posted February 20, 2013 at 1:07 am | Permalink
    Bakri says:

    Hello Antti,
    In regards to your comment, I derive that your company is a very thoughtful and interactive company that values both it’s present, potential and future employees and this greatly reflects on you as a person (Antti) for giving this hint on the forthcoming interview.

    I look forward to this experience in good faith. Highly appreciated.


  7. Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Hi Olga! Nice to hear that you found the tips useful. =)

    To answer your questions:

    -All telephone interviews are conducted by HR/recruiting specialists of Novo Nordisk. As you said, 500 interviews is a big number, but we continue to believe that dedicating in-house expertise in recruitment is a very good cause.
    -Interviews are conducted over the phone, but also Skype is being used depending on the technical setup of the applicant.

    All the best of luck!


  8. Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Bakri,

    Thank you for the kind words, I think you have reflected our company culture very accurately. All the best of luck in your application process!


  9. Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Saeid,

    During the phone interviews, the applicant will be interviewed by one or two HR specialists. In the Graduate Recruitment Centre, the number of interviewers may be higher than that, depending on the situation.

    All the best of luck! =)


  10. Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Monique,

    Thank you for your comment. It is an extremely valid point that you are making here. The amount of applications our recruitment staff receives every year is extraordinary. More importantly, the sheer amount of talent and motivation behind all of those applications is quite overwhelming, and therefore we give everyone a fair chance in the application process.

    As we can only accept a limited number of applicants for the graduate programme, we always request our applicants to seek opportunities in other positions at Novo Nordisk. After all, the graduate programme is only one way of joining the company.

    Perhaps in this aspect, my wording “letter of rejection” indeed does not serve the best purpose. Thank you for pointing that out =)

    Good luck in applying!

  11. Posted February 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
    Monique Hinds says:

    Dear Antti
    Thank you for the feedback, regardless of the outcome I have been able to learn more about company and it has peaked my interest.
    Only can only hope :)
    Wish you all the best and enjoy the rest of your day.

  12. Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
    Sami Niskanen says:

    Good tips, thank you. It’s always nice to hear inside tips from someone who has already “been there and done that”.

    I’m really excited about this chance and I want to absorb all the information about the graduate program available. That is why I check back here every now and then.

    However, there is something I want to ask. Does age matter in the graduate program? I’m just wondering because I might have slightly more, err, experience than some other applicants.

    Thank you again!


  13. Posted February 23, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink
    Gurram Sudarshan guptha says:

    Hi Antti,
    Thanks for your informative and brief insight post about the phone interview. This programme has made me to learn more about your organisation, which has created great interest and enthusiasm to work with you. I am waiting eagerly to hear from you guys about my candidacy.

  14. Posted February 23, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
    Farah Shah says:

    Hi Antti!

    It’s good to see and hear encouraging things and useful tips after submitting the application. I have a question. Has the recruitment team gone over all the applications at this point, or are you still to look at some?

    Look forward to your response.

    Thank you :)


  15. Posted February 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Farah,

    Thank you for your question. However, as we have more programmes this year than ever, and each programme has its own recruitment team, it is impossible to answer without knowing to which programme you have applied for. Nonetheless, all recruitment teams are aspiring to provide feedback for all applicants still in February.

    At this point I unfortunately cannot be more specific, this is what we have been informed from the side of the recruiters. So please keep an eye on your e-mail! =)

    Kind regards,


  16. Posted February 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Sami,

    Great to hear you have found our blog posts helpful, that is one of our key goals.

    The graduate programme of Novo Nordisk is primarily targeted at recent graduates with an M.Sc. degree. In another words, Novo Nordisk seeks for people who have graduated recently from university, who are eager to move around, adapt to new locations and professional roles, and who arae still in the active “learning mode”. As such we do not have an absolute minimum or maximum age when hiring graduates, but for the aforementioned reasons the focus is on fresh graduates.

    I hope this clarified a bit?

    Kind regards,


  17. Posted February 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
    monitha says:

    Hello Antti,

    I really like the posts, blogs and up-dates regarding the graduate recruitment process.It sure helps a lot of people who have applied and are still waiting to hear from them!!!I would like to know if the screening is already over as I had applied for the RA Graduate program. I saw some of the candidates that have already heard , in FB. I have also read from your posts that people who are selected are informed in advance via email for Skype/phone interview.So was just wondering, Still have my fingers crossed!!!!

  18. Posted February 25, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Dear Antti,

    I really appreciate your comments and tips about the recruitment process.

    I am applying for the Global Marketing position, and I’m really looking forward to talk with the recruiters and explain them why I want to join the team, and what makes me so interested in both the program and the company.

    I really like the idea of having a sound ownership in your projects within a corporate environment, as it allows you to show your committment with deadlines and results.

    I am definitely looking forward to the interview with the HR team. I am confident that following your advices and keep preparing myself for the interview, as I have done for the past weeks will be crucial in the process.

    Again, thank you so much, and hope to hear back from you soon.

    best regards,


  19. Posted February 26, 2013 at 4:57 am | Permalink
    Ratnesh Kansal says:

    Dear Antti,

    Thank you for sharing your experience as it is quite helpful. I have applied for the Corporate Finance Graduate Programme.

    I request you to please let me know if the HR team/recruitment team send the applicants an email to fix a date and time for the interview?


    Ratnesh Kansal

  20. Posted February 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Ratnesh,

    Thank you for the kind words!

    In the event that an applicant is invited for a telephone interview, a recruitment specialist will contact the applicant and schedule a suitable date and time for the purpose. We do not do unscheduled interviews =)

    Good luck!

    Kind regards,


  21. Posted February 26, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink
    Anna Chaudhuri says:

    Dear Antti,

    Thank you for sharing your advice!
    I have found it very useful.
    My interview is scheduled for tomorrow, I am very curious how it is going to be like. Regardless the outcome it is very interesting to learn about the company and the porgramme!



  22. Posted February 26, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink
    Arne Vater says:

    haven’t heard of you yet. Should I keep my hopes up?

  23. Posted February 27, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink
    Ogundipe Kayode says:

    Dear Anti,

    Cheers for all your helful posts. Is there any chance that a capable candidate who had graduate 2years a ago be considered?

    Also, feburary ends in a day and most of us still have not heard any response (thought I pray a favourable one), could a positive response come in by March?

    I have been shaky, anxious and jivvy since I applied for the Business Process program. I do all forms of execrise harder now, just to take my mind off it, but its almost never work as I really want to move, learn and fly with Novo!!!


  24. Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
    Geerthana says:

    Hi Antti,

    I have applied for Business process Graduate.The website shows that I will get the result within End of Feb but till now I didn’t got any Mail.

    Thank you in advance

  25. Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Geerthana,

    Thank you for writing. As promised, all applicants will be informed by the end of February. This is a promise that has been made to all applicants, and it will hold. Therefore all applicants can expect an answer still today.

    Kind regards,


  26. Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Ogundipe,

    As per your question regarding your background: I am not personally involved in the recruitment, and therefore cannot answer. Please direct your question directly to the programme manager or contact person to the specific programme you have applied for (Business Processes).

    Further, as promised, everyone may expect an answer by the end of February. You can expect to hear more today.

    Kind regards,


  27. Posted February 28, 2013 at 9:42 am | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Arne,

    Thank you for the question. As promised, all applicants will receive an answer by the end of February. Therefore you can expect an answer still during today.

    Kind regards,


  28. Posted February 28, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink
    Cindy says:


    I was wondering when the results of the phone interview will come out?? When will the candidates be notified?


  29. Posted February 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
    Antti Santasalo says:

    Dear Cindy,

    As promised, all applicants will receive an answer by the end of February. Therefore you can expect an answer still during today.

    Kind regards,


  30. Posted February 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
    Cindy says:

    Hi Annti,

    Sorry, I got confused! I thought you were talking about the initial invitation for phone interviews, not the results of the phone interview. My bad! Thanks for clarifying.

    Kind Regards,

  31. Posted March 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
    Gareth says:

    Hi Antti Santasalo

    I’m not finishing my M.Sc. until summer 2014.

    I was wondering – Which extra-curricular activities would be considered most important in the recruitment process? (In your personal opinion naturally)

    Kind regards