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Job interviews in the Netherlands: A guide for internationals

Are you currently looking for a new job as an international in the Netherlands? The team from Undutchables presents this guide to help you navigate the Dutch interview process.

Job interviews are a crucial part of the hiring process in many countries – and the Netherlands is no exception to this. For expats who are unfamiliar with Dutch hiring practices or the local job market, it can be a daunting or overwhelming task. Interviewing for a job can be a long and confusing process as it is, but it can be even more scary in a foreign country.

Here are a few things you can anticipate for your job interviews as well as some tips to help you impress hiring managers:

Dutch job applications: What to expect

The first step to any job application is, of course, the application itself. Job applications in the Netherlands are similar to applications in other countries in that you must include your CV and possibly a cover letter. Some organisations may request that you take a personality and / or a competency assessment as well.

After sending your application to the hiring manager or recruiter, you must wait for their response. This can take anywhere from a few business days to a few weeks.

If you haven’t heard anything back from the employer after a week, you can follow up on your application in a polite manner.

If after four weeks you still haven’t received a response, then it is safe to assume that you have not been selected for the position. 

First interview

In the Netherlands, it is common for job interviews with an initial intake interview with an external recruiter, typically from a recruitment agency. If an employer is interested in you as a candidate, you will then be invited to the first “official” interview with their hiring manager.

During this meeting, the manager gets to know more about you and your professional background. They may ask questions about your work experiences, hard skills and your salary expectations.

Second interview

After the initial interview, successful candidates will be invited to the second round of interviews. This is when you might get to learn more in-depth information about the role and potentially meet other members of the team. 

The employer may also ask you to complete an assignment to assess your job-specific knowledge and skills. They normally give you a certain deadline to submit the assignment, which you should strive to meet.

Third interview

Third interviews are also not uncommon in the Netherlands, especially for competitive roles with many applicants. 

Some Dutch employers invite candidates to a meeloopdag (walk-along day) where you can shadow one of their employees for the day, which is a great opportunity to meet all of the team members and to visit the office.

Ace the online interview

In this day and age, online job interviews have become the norm rather than the exception. This is especially common for initial interviews.

A few useful things you can do to make sure your online interview goes well are:

  • Setting up: Make sure that you have the link to the online meeting and that this is working properly with any necessary apps that you may need to use. Log in early to check that your internet connection and device are also functioning properly.
  • Take notes: Jotting down notes during the interview helps you to remember important information that may be relevant later on in the hiring process.
  • Have your CV on hand: Being able to reference your CV during the interview can be useful if the interviewer asks you specific questions about your background.
  • Send a follow-up email: Thank the hiring manager for taking the time to have an interview with you. You can also mention that you are excited to learn more about the role because you are interested in X, Y and Z.

Proper interview preparation and etiquette can help you to feel confident as a job candidate. It communicates to the employer that you care about the role and that you are willing to put in a high amount of effort. 

Prepare for the interview

Here are four brief tips to help you get ready for your next interview:

  • Research the company
  • Prepare questions
  • Know your CV inside and out
  • Always be yourself

Achieving success as a candidate is not easy, but good preparation and self-awareness can significantly boost your chances of employment.

Additionally, it helps to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and to be honest about them with the interviewer. This can seem counterintuitive when you are trying to present your best self to get the job, but it is important to be transparent and direct – that’s the Dutch way!

Dutch working culture

The Dutch are known for their honesty and directness, so don’t be surprised if your interviewer gets straight to the point. Dutch people are also highly punctual, so make sure that you are ready to start the interview on time (whether it’s online or in-person).

Dressing for a job interview

Despite their seemingly no-nonsense approach, the Dutch are more laid-back when it comes to their work attire. For your interview, it is wise to dress business / smart casual (think: a button-down blouse with jeans or a knit sweater with slacks). Most companies appreciate candidates who look professional, but not overly-formal. Of course, this depends on your sector and on the employer, but in general, business casual is a safe option for most interviewees. 

The importance of personality

Dutch interviews differ from interviews in other countries in that most employers are often looking for a personal click. While many companies are focused solely on a candidate’s experience and credentials, a lot of Dutch employers want to hire people they know will fit in well with their team and working culture.

Although you may be focused on highlighting your professional qualities during your interview, remember to be yourself and try to establish a friendly rapport with them. On top of being a good worker, they want to make sure that you are someone that they can have a nice conversation with during an after-work borrel!

Stay positive

Job applications and interviews take a lot of time and energy for any applicant, but it can be especially draining for internationals. It is easy to feel discouraged and burned out from the process, but it is important to be kind to yourself throughout. Getting into a negative headspace not only affects your health, but it may also affect how you come across during interviews. Be sure to take frequent breaks, if you can, and to give yourself the space you need.

Work with a recruitment agency

You don’t have to go through the job searching process alone. There are several international recruitment agencies in the Netherlands whose purpose is to help expats find the right job opportunities. Recruitment agencies usually have connections with employers across a wide range of industries and have insight into job vacancies (sometimes before they are even publicly available).

Need further assistance with your job search? Undutchables is a recruitment agency that matches international job seekers with employers in the Netherlands – no Dutch needed!