Interview Tips and Etiquette For Dutch Natives and Expats Alike

Do you know what’s nerve-wracking? Job interviews. Now add being in another country or not having it in your native language, it gets even worse. So you’ve put into practice all the tips you learned from our CV writing article. Now the company wants to meet you. Great! But, what should you know about interviewing in the Netherlands? Keep reading to find out. 


What We’ll Cover in This Article 


The Job Interview Process in the Netherlands

Dutch people 101: They usually are blatantly honest and go straight to the point. 


Unless… we are talking about their interview culture. Job applications get reviewed relatively slowly here. Usually, they go in several rounds. In the initial interview, the company is just getting to know you. Expect standard interview questions. In some cases, you can get a phone interview as well. If you get to the second round, it means that the employer is considering you for the role. This is when you should make a serious effort to get to know the company and show you have what they are looking for. 


How to Behave During an Interview

What to say, what not to say, how to say it


Even though you know your skills and personality will be tested, it’s important to appear confident. You will be openly judged by someone whether you are a good fit. It’s absolutely normal to feel nervous. What to remember:

  • Avoid speaking too quickly
  • Avoid interrupting the interviewer
  • Always ask if you don’t understand the question – use phrases like “If I understood right, you are asking me X/Y/Z” to make sure
  • Make eye contact while you are speaking
  • Perfect your body language
  • Avoid using filler words like “um” and “like”
  • Avoid eating and drinking (unless it’s water, of course)
  • Put your phone on silent, you wouldn’t want to be distracted by it in the middle of your interview.

Should You Ask About Salary In an Interview?

The short answer is: it depends. We’ve covered the topic of salary talks and negotiation in more depth, so we recommend that you give a thorough read. Here’s a quick summary of the general Dos and Don’ts. :

  1. Discuss your salary expectations with your recruiter first. 
  2. If you are navigating the job application process on your own, wait until the employer brings up compensation details.
  3. If that hasn’t happened towards the later stages of the interview rounds, you should open the salary negotiation conversation yourself.
  4. It’s very important how you choose to approach the negotiation. Our advice is: always wait to be asked for salary expectations instead of doing it yourself.
  5. When it comes to numbers, be sure to prepare a range. Make your decision based on specific industry benchmarking and your unique set of skills & experience. 
  6. If you don’t feel confident in your negotiation skills, leave that to the recruiter.


Job Interview Outfit: What to Wear

The Dutch are all about moderation.

Surely, you want to look your most professional self at the interview. But, it’s important to not overdo it too. It also depends on the type of job, of course. As a general rule, keep away from extremes and apply common sense. Ripped jeans and casual T-shirts are not recommended. Smart-casual (also known as, business casual) wear should be okay.


Online Interview Essentials

With COVID-19 turning our lives around, online interviews became the norm. Even virtual onboarding. And why shouldn’t they? It’s easier for everyone, and safer, even in the post-pandemic context. Some basic things you should consider. Make sure you

  1. Have a good Internet connection
  2. Test your audio and video beforehand
  3. Find a quiet and clean space, free of distractions
  4. Juxtapose yourself against a neutral background

Sit up straight, smile and listen in an active manner. Just as you would do in a non-virtual interview.


Tricky Job Interview Questions: How to Dodge the Bullet?

As mentioned above, the interviewer will start with some basic personal questions. If you are not Dutch, you will probably get a variation of the questions “What brings you to the Netherlands?” But, there will be trickier ones that require some serious preparation. 

  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What did you dislike in your last job?
  • What are your long-term plans? 
  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • Why should we choose you?

Here are sample answers to these questions. Tailor to your needs.

What did you dislike in your last job?

You might be tempted to focus on a negative aspect of your last job. If that’s your strategy, consider changing your approach. If you speak ill of your previous employer, what guarantee does the new employer have that you won’t do the same for them? So when you lay down your reasons for leaving your last job, start with what you enjoyed about it and then be honest about what you didn’t. Avoid using adjectives with negative connotations. Let’s see an example.


What not to say: The job was boring.


How to put it during the interview: Over time, I started feeling too comfortable and not challenged enough in my job. My growth was stagnating and I started thinking about a change. I told my line manager about it but the company structure and processes didn’t provide much flexibility. Even so, I learned a lot from this experience and I’m eager to build on it.


You are ending on a positive note, you show that you tried to work this out, and it demonstrates your ambition.


What are your long-term plans?

This question may also sound something like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. If you don’t plan that long ahead, what do you say? Our advice: be honest. It’s one of the few interview questions that you can answer with “I don’t know”.

People change all the time. If you have only a vague idea of where you see yourself in the distant future, give a general answer. The bottom line is, it’s okay not to know and the interviewer won’t judge you.


If you still want to answer in a more concrete manner, you can talk about developing your skills in a certain area or growing your network.


How do you deal with conflict?

Conflict in the workplace is just as likely as in any other area of your life. The interviewer wants to know how you approach heated situations. Make sure you use examples from the past and how you dissolved an argument. Mention actions you took to avoid it too. Avoid using words with a negative connotation and getting emotional. Remember, the underlying message of each answer should be “hire me”. That’s why when talking about conflict, you need to show your emotional intelligence and a flexible attitude.


Why should we choose you?

Have you heard about the elevator pitch? Your answer to this question should be just that. Only that you are not selling a company, but yourself.

Highlight all your key skills, experience, industry knowledge in one summary. With a question like this, the interviewer will be looking at two things.  

  1. How much you understand about the role
  2. What your personal view on yourself is

You can structure your answer like this: This role needs someone who is [a characteristic of the job mentioned in the job description] as the nature of this job requires [specific skills and talents you can offer] and I am your person because [past experience that shows you have what it takes].

If you don’t have any past experience, you can always point out your ability to learn fast and your dedication instead.


Still Feeling a Bit Insecure About Your Interview?

It’s absolutely normal. When you find a job through Blue Lynx, our recruiters will help you prepare for the interview. They have experience in giving out great advice to candidates. Blue Lynx recruiters spend time getting to know what each of our business clients wants. You will be in safe hands. 


Are You an Expat?

Welcome to the Netherlands! One of the best countries to work in. The working culture here is based on balance. Dutch are friendly but very direct. This is sometimes considered rude by other nations. They have a good sense of measure and moderation. The best thing about the Netherlands? People celebrate their differences and are open to foreigners. Did we mention almost everyone speaks English? You will definitely find your place here.

Other articles you might find useful:

How to write a Thank You email after the interview
Write a winning cover letter
How to tell if your CV good enough