As the old saying goes: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."
Both good preparation before and confidence during an interview are essential for success. Standard patterns do exist but interviews may vary significantly depending not only on the position and industry but also on your profile as well as the interviewer’s experience and judgment.
Interview guide for the Netherlands
Here, you can find a brief overview of different questions and techniques. Nevertheless, the provided answers are only suggestions and thus, should be modified accordingly.
Tell me about yourself
A typical but tricky opening question. It is important to draw the interest of the interviewer from the very first moment, so keep it short and to the point (less than five minutes). Elaborate on your qualifications, career history and skills but avoid going into too much detail. If you lack any (significant) prior work experience you can always focus more on your studies and correlate them with the specific entry position.
What have your achievements been to date?
Focus on position-related and (fairly) recent achievements, and illustrate their impact on the company. e.g. "I managed to decrease the stock levels and thus, reduced warehousing costs by 30%."
Are you happy with your career-to-date?
A straightforward answer justifying your up-to-date choices should be enough. Do not forget to mention the word "happy" and elaborate on your future career goals and personal achievements.
What is the most difficult situation you faced and how did you tackle it?
The interviewer is trying to identify what you perceive as "difficult" and apparently, you must emphasise your problem solving capabilities. Describe a difficult situation and make sure your answer clearly states: problem definition, possible solutions, justification of your choice and of course, the outcome. A "what-I-learned-from-that-experience" speech would be ideal for ending...
What are your strengths?
Surprisingly, most candidates believe that this is one of the most difficult questions. Just mention core terms such as:
- "easy learner"
- "result oriented"
- "socialising skills"
- "team player"
- "hard worker"
All of them, followed by concrete examples.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
Be ready to mention (some of) your weak points. Admitting lack of experience is always an option but stressing your weaknesses along with actions you are undertaking to improve them is much better.
Why did you apply for this particular job?
This is the point that you need to convince the interviewer that this role complements your personal characteristics and career prospects. A thorough preparation before the interview should reveal which attributes of the role / company interest you the most.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Your answer should include both short and long term goals. Describe the position that you would eventually like to work in and give a brief overview of how you plan on going there. Keywords such as "ambition" and "determination" should be mentioned but not repeatedly.
What can you offer to this organisation?
Every employer is looking for an employee to add value, so pay extra attention and of course, time. Usually, job descriptions include the required characteristics, so isolate all keywords and practice your answer beforehand.
What level of salary are you seeking?
The interviewer assumes that you are aware of the labour conditions as well as the salary for similar positions. Try not to specify your desired wage level even if there is a salary indication in the job description. In general, employers accept the fact that many candidates are not willing to discuss it during the initial stages.
Other common questions during interviews in the Netherlands
- Why did you choose this industry?
- What is more important to you: the salary level or the type of your job?
- Why would you characterise yourself as a leader? (examples needed)
- What kind of pressures have you encountered at work?
- Do you work effectively under pressure?
- What kind of people do you like working with?
- What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?
- Has your work been criticised in the past? Give an example.
- Describe me a situation where you felt anger at work. What was your reaction?
- Give me examples of dealing with conflicts at work.
- Tell me about the last time you disagreed with your manager.
- Describe me the ideal manager.
- What kind of communication do you want to have with your manager?
- Do you prefer working alone or in a group?
- At the moment you are occupied in a very different organisation. How do you think you will fit in?
- What are you looking for in an international company?
- How do you measure your performance?
- Are you a self-starter? (provide examples)
- Tell me about changes in the workplace that caused you difficulty. Why?
- How do you feel about working extra hours and / or weekends?
- Tell me about targets that you failed to achieve.
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
Questions & Answers if you have a job (in the Netherlands)
Be prepared to answer the following questions if you are already working in the Netherlands:
What do you like about your present job?
Emphasise your role and describe how appealing your present job is but do not overdo it; you are about to leave.
What do you dislike about your present job?
Do not formulate false conclusions. Talk about a general characteristic in your current company (location, industry etc.) to keep the discussion on a general level.
Why do you want to leave your current role?
The answer is simple: you need to make a turn in your career. Avoid negative references (e.g. your current employer) and focus on your future career steps.
Ask the following questions
Here are some questions for you to ask:
About the role
- Why has the position become available?
- What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position?
- Which are you measurement criteria for employee performance?
- How does your company invest in the development of its employees?
- How many colleagues will I cooperate with?
- What does the remuneration package include?
About the company
- How would you describe the company culture and management style?
- How do you (as a company) build good relationships within teams?
- Are there any plans for expansion?
About the industry
- It would be wise to ask the interviewer about the latest industry changes such as mergers and acquisitions.
Hints & Tips
- Call them in advance.
- Arrive 10 minutes earlier.
- Bring copies of your CV, cover letter, diplomas & references.
- Introduce yourself.
- Shake hands.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Exchange business cards.
- Ask questions at the end of the interview.
- Enjoy the interview!