Dutch style small talk during job interview

Dutch people are known for their directness and job interviews will be no exception. But what kind of questions can you expect? In this article, I will share the reasons behind Dutch small talk questions during your job interview.

Questions during interviews in the Netherlands

You have barely sat down and the interviewer is already firing some very "unusual" questions:
› Was it easy to find the building / office?
› What was the traffic like?
› Where do you come from?
› How long have you been here?
› How did you end up in the Netherlands?
› Are you here by yourself?

While the first two questions are very general and sound easy, it may very quickly become (too) personal. And most questions seem hardly relevant to the job position you applied for. But if you find "Dutch small talk questions" too direct, rude or nosy then it would be wise to come prepared because your reaction may either uplift or ruin your "image" during an interview!

Small talk, the Dutch way!

First of all, such questions may be unusual according to your standards but to many Dutch people these questions would fall in the category "small talk."

If they are asked at the beginning of the interview, the purpose is to allow you to relax. It is the interviewer's way of making you feel as comfortable as possible. After all, tension for your job interview may have been building up for a few hours (or days in some cases!).

It is common practice in the Netherlands to ask a few, easy-to-answer questions to reduce tension and this is not meant to upset you in any way or form.

If you feel some negative emotions when reading the above questions then it is time to start thinking of possible answers.

Secondly, small talk may well continue throughout your job interview. It is an easy way to assess your social skills and communication ability. Are you able to start a short conversation on any random topic with any kind of person or do you withdraw and get nervous?

Finally, if you are good at small talk then you may come across as a more open and friendly person compared to someone who is less of a small talker. Therefore it is an excellent opportunity to show that you can connect with people, including those you meet for the first time and in an official setting such as a job interview.

Just remember, if you are looking for a job in the Netherlands then be prepared to engage into small talk the Dutch way!

Ellen Scholten


Ellen Scholten

International Life & Career Coach who is dedicated to support internationals who wish to set and stretch their personal boundaries, broaden their horizons and achieve their self-defined goals. She...

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