Job interviews in the Netherlands: what to expect (and how to nail one!)

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Hey, congratulations on scoring that job interview in the Netherlands! However, as a foreigner, you may be wondering: “What is a Dutch job interview really like?”

After all, every country has their own quirks and customs in business life — and Dutch jobs are no exception

We know you’re keen to nail your interview and get started with working in the Netherlands — so here’s the ultimate guide to what to expect! 

We went to the pros when it comes to getting a job in the Netherlands for help with this article: Undutchables! They know better than anyone the ins and outs of navigating Dutch job interviews and gaining great Dutch jobs. 

Stages of interviewing in the Netherlands

Let’s begin from the start, the middle, and the end. What the hell do we mean by that? 

Well, in the Netherlands it is common that you’ll need to survive and thrive through multiple interviews. Hiring for Dutch jobs can be competitive and cutthroat, so your potential employer will want to make sure you can bring the goods. 

Naturally, every company runs their interview process differently. You might get one interview, you might get three, you might need more! But as a rough guide, here’s what you might experience. 😉

Initial interview

You’ll often be invited for an initial interview where you can meet the hiring manager and discuss the role. They’ll get a feel for whether you might be a good fit for their company — and you’ll get a feel for whether the company may be a good fit for you. Handy, right? 

Second interview

Congrats! You made it through to the next stage. In this interview, you may be introduced to the team that you could be working with and your potential manager. 

Third interview

Finally, some places want to be extra sure: so you may be called in for a third interview. It could be with the same people as your second interview, or it could be with the founders of the company. It’s the last chance to impress, so bring your A-game!

How to prepare for a Dutch job interview

So now you know how many interviews you may be in for, you’ve got some preparation ahead of you! The good news is that planning for a Dutch job interview isn’t so different to preparing for any other interview. Here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind: 

  • 👀 Get to know the company: know their product, vision, recent growth, media coverage, anything that gives you a better insight into who they are. 
  • 🤔 Prepare for the hard questions: Dutch people don’t beat around the bush: they’ll be carefully assessing you and will ask the hard, direct questions. You’ll impress if you can give them real, well-thought-out answers backed up by statistics or results. 
  • 📎 Bring your documents: Your Mum may have told you to never show up to a party empty-handed — but that also goes for CVs. Bring a smart-looking folder, bag, or briefcase with backup copies of your CV, notes, letters of recommendation, or good luck notes from your significant other. You may not pull them out in the interview, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • 👍 Know your CV: The Dutch are rarely fooled by smooth-talking people who are actually saying very little. Come prepared with your results from previous workplaces so that if you’re asked about that growth rate from five years ago you know the answer. 
  • 💡 Come armed with ideas: The Dutch have a very egalitarian work culture, so the best way you can prove you’ll be a great fit for their team is to be well-prepared with some ideas on how you could contribute. 
  • 🔦 Review who is interviewing you: “That’s a great question _____.” Don’t get caught out not knowing your interviewers’ names. Read up on them on the company website or LinkedIn beforehand for immediate extra points.
  • 🧩 Be ready with questions: Show that you’re interested in the company by asking them about the role, what they expect, or what the plans for the future are. 

What to wear to a job interview in the Netherlands

Now you’ve nailed preparation there’s one thing left: what will you wear?

Here’s a fun fact for you: clothing at Dutch workplaces — even offices — is more often informal than formal. However, that doesn’t mean you should wear sneakers to your Dutch job interview!

Always err on the side of safety and dress in formal business wear. After all, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed!

For men, wear a suit and preferably a tie. If you’re getting more casual vibes from the workplace you may be able to get away with a collared shirt and a suit jacket. 

For women, a nice shirt, slacks or skirt, and perhaps a blazer is best. Don’t overdo the makeup — Dutch women typically go for more natural looks. 

TIP: Not sure how formal your potential new workplace is? Check the website’s “About Us” page and see what current employees are wearing in their photos. 

How to act during a job interview in the Netherlands

You’ve got the interview, prepared accordingly, and are dressed to impress: now to nail the interview you’ll need to prove you’re the best person the company could add to their team. 

Once your interview is finished you can usually expect a decision within one week in the Netherlands. Image: IgorVetushko/Depositphotos

Much of Dutch culture is based in the country’s Calvinist history. In Calvinism, you’re expected to take things in moderation, have self-discipline and modesty, practice tolerance, work hard, and work well as a team. These tenets still appear in Dutch society today!

Here are some things to watch out for in your Dutch job interview: 

Confident, but not cocky

Your interviewer wants to see that you’re self-assured enough to do the job — but being overly confident won’t do you any favours. 

You’ll need to carefully walk a line between not showing off but not being too modest. Strike a balance by calmly showing that you’re sure of your abilities. 

Do this by offering a strong handshake (or elbow bump or fist bump) and clearly and accurately detailing your achievements and accomplishments in past positions. Of course, don’t forget to acknowledge the efforts of your team at the time and areas of improvement for yourself in the future. 

A team player

You don’t reclaim land from the sea without having some great teamwork skills. The Dutch have an essential concept of “polderen” — where negotiation and cooperation make decisions. 

As a result, Dutch workplaces are often non-hierarchical and place high value on cooperation. Use this to your advantage by showing that you’re a team player who is willing to discuss and deliberate on all the important issues. 

Dealing with Dutch directness

One classic aspect of Dutch culture that strikes fear into the heart of internationals is Dutch directness. The Dutch are known for saying exactly what they think — no niceties needed. 

If your interviewer spots a questionable item on your resume, you’ll be asked about it (and in no uncertain terms). Be prepared, and don’t beat around the bush in your answer either. 😉

Tips for an online job interview

Naturally, not every interview may be in person — especially if you haven’t yet arrived in the Netherlands. To make sure your interview goes smoothly, make sure you adapt your technique to the online space:

  • 👔 Dress appropriately, from top to bottom (no pyjama pants!).
  • ⌚ Arrive in the digital waiting room at least five minutes early.
  • 🪴 Take your interview in a private, quiet space with lots of light. You may like to set up a nice background behind you with a plant and some nice books. 
  • 💻 Use your computer’s camera, not your phone.
  • 👀 Look directly into your laptop’s camera to maintain “eye contact” with the interviewer. 

What to expect after your job interview

Hey ho! All those nerves have paid off and you’ve (hopefully) smashed your job interview in style. (We believe in you!) Now the only thing to do is sit back and hope that you impressed your interviewers.

From here, practice patience as you wait for the next phone call or email. Expect that you could be brought in for further interviews or to meet other team members. You may even be asked to do a trial project to prove your skills. 

Typically, you can expect an answer from most jobs within a few days after your interview. If you haven’t heard back, it’s totally fine to reach out after one week to touch base — after all, that Dutch directness can go both ways. 😉

Want to know more about getting a job in the Netherlands? Undutchables are the premier recruitment agency for internationals. Check out their vacancies!

Prepare well, know your stuff, and take a deep breath — you’re going to do great! 👍

What are your top tips for nailing a Dutch job interview? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: VitalikRadko/Depositphotos

Samantha Dixon 🇦🇺
Sam isn’t great at being Dutch. Originally hailing from Australia, she came to study in the Netherlands without knowing where the country was on a map. She once accidentally ordered the entire ice-cream menu at Smullers. She still can’t jump on the back of a moving bike. But, she remains fascinated by the tiny land of tall people.

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