If you are considering relocating from your current location to the Netherlands for work, you may be wondering how to best prepare for a successful interview.
I relocated from Canada to the Netherlands for work two years ago. And now I’m on the other side of the table. At my current company in Amsterdam, I’m involved in and have helped make hiring decisions for people around the world wanting to come work in the Netherlands.
From this experience I have developed this list of 15 potential interview questions that you should prepare while job hunting for your first job in the Netherlands.
1. Introduce yourself
More likely than not, your interviewer will kick things off with a short introduction of him- or herself before asking you to give one.
Try to keep things succinct (less than five minutes) and avoid prematurely going into too much detail about your CV unless specifically asked.
I have found the Dutch can be rather open and candid, even in interviews. Don’t be surprised if in their introduction your interviewer tells you their age, how many children they have, the town they live in, and what they like to do in their free time. If this happens, and you’re comfortable with it, it’s perfectly fine to share this information with your interviewer as well.
2. Take us through your CV
Know exactly what you’ve written down in your CV. Practice summarizing it, while focusing on the experience that is directly relevant to the role you’re currently applying for. Now would also be a good time to mention any special achievements from that experience that isn’t mentioned in your CV.
Coming to the Netherlands
3. Why are you interested in coming to the Netherlands?
Companies will definitely try to get a sense of the likelihood that you’ll stay in the Netherlands, since they are probably making a significant investment in hiring someone from abroad. Make it clear that you’ve done your homework and can clearly communicate the reasons why you’re interested in relocating to the Netherlands.
Make your response specific to the Netherlands. Check out this post for more tips and examples on this.
4. How long do you intend on staying in the Netherlands?
Unless you already have family or a partner living there, your interviewer will understand that there is some uncertainty around this topic. You don’t need to say that you’re going to stay for a specific number of years, or permanently. You can be honest if you don’t have a target, but let it be known that your ambition is to stay long-term (and why).
5. What research have you done into living and working in the Netherlands?
If you have already done some research into what is required for you to live and work in the Netherlands, it shows that you are serious about relocating. By doing this research you may even find that you have some questions for the interviewer that you may want to clarify during the conversation.
6. Are you eligible to work in the Netherlands?
Several types of resident permits exist in the Netherlands, and the conditions differ depending on the type of work, and whether or not you have a nationality within EU/EEA (or Switzerland). Before the interview, make sure you visit the IND website for information on the types of resident permits and their requirements.
7. What do you expect will be the biggest cultural differences between the Netherlands and your home country?
Again, if you have already done some research into what to expect when working in the Netherlands, it is a good indicator that you are committed to the move. I discuss in detail in this post some of the cultural differences I experienced in the workplace.
8. Will you be relocating alone or with family?
This question also tries to gauge the likelihood that you’ll stay in the Netherlands. If you are relocating with your partner and/or family, you’re more likely to stick around than if you would be relocating by yourself.
9. Do you already know anyone in the Netherlands?
Again, this question helps the employer gauge the likelihood that you’ll call the Netherlands home for the long term. If you already know some people in the Netherlands, it is easier to integrate and form a community outside of work.
10. What is your greatest career achievement to date?
Describe your greatest career achievement but do try to focus on the work experience that is directly relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. Explain how your past success makes you the right candidate for this role.
11. Why are you leaving your current job?
Be honest when answering this question (without making yourself sound like a difficult colleague, or speaking poorly about the company or people). Explain how your current role can no longer provide you with the growth or learning that you need. Or that the role being offered presents an opportunity that will make full use of your strengths.
The Dutch are very honest and direct, so if they suspect that at their company you will run into the same issues that are causing you to leave your current job, they’ll mention it upfront.
12. What is your greatest strength and/or weakness?
When it comes to strengths, name those that are required for the role and offer examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past.
For weaknesses, ideally name one that is not crucial for being successful in the role. Perhaps there is an improvement point from your most recent performance evaluation with your current company. You can describe that point and what you are doing to overcome or improve upon it.
13. Where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?
Your instincts might tell you to convince the interviewer that you still want to be with their company five years from now. However, as a newcomer in the Netherlands, the interviewer will understand that there is some uncertainty around whether or not you’ll stay in the country, let alone where you’ll be in your career in 5 years.
Instead, explain your learning goals and how you hope to take on more responsibilities that build on the role you’re applying for. If there is a clear career progression for the role, you can mention the title you hope to have within those 5 years — to make your response a little more concrete.
14. Do you have any questions for us?
Asking questions to the interviewer shows that you’re engaged in the conversation and not just going through the motions of reciting your rehearsed responses. In this post I give 10 great examples of questions you can ask at the end of the interview.
If it hasn’t already been answered, you can always ask the interviewer what the next steps in the interview process will be, or when you can expect to hear from them next.
15. What is your earliest possible start date?
Make sure that you are aware of the notice period that you need to give your current employer. On top of that, relocating usually involves several other logistical and administrative steps. Make sure you have mapped out all the steps needed, in order to give yourself and your prospective employer a realistic timeline of when you can start. If you are unsure, ask the interviewer how much lead time other expat colleagues needed in order to relocate.
The Dutch have a saying, “Een goed begin is het halve werk”. It means that a good start is half of the work. In this case, preparing the above questions, and following my tips is more than half the work needed to succeed in landing your first job in the Netherlands. For the rest, you just have to be yourself.
Succes! Good luck