When you move to a new country and start to work you soon realize certain things are just a little different then where you from. How do you approach your boss, what to eat during lunch, how to interact with your co-workers. In this section we deep a little bit in Dutch work customs.
In the section we focus purely on typical customs for conducting a job interview in the Netherlands.
What to wear, compared to other countries the Dutch are more casual and practical. For most interviews, don’t wear a suit but go business casual, something that makes you comfortable.
Be on time, make sure you will arrive 10 minutes before. Let them know you are there. Are you running late? Tell the company.
Learn about the company, this is probably valid everywhere in the world but make sure you read about the history of the company and the people interviewing you. Ask things about the company if they are unclear, Important is that you care about the company and want to be a real asset.
Avoid too much self-confidence, in the Dutch culture it is very important to be a little bit modest, to much self-confidence is considered arrogant. So try to listen to the interviewers and answer their questions. Ask relevant questions only.
Past-interview, writing a thank you letter after your interview is not often done. It’s better not to do this.
Some expats are a little shocked with the way Dutch people interact with each other at work. In the section we explain the Dutch corporate culture.
Communication, the Dutch culture is considered to be a low context culture, which means that they have a direct way of communicating. Beating around the bush is not always appreciated.
Hierachy, everyone in the Netherlands can and will be ridiculed, from the King, Prime-minister to the famous actor, but also your boss. You will notice that colleagues will make fun of the boss even when he or she is present in the room. Equality and openness of the Dutch people is reflected in the corporate culture. The hierarchy is often horizontal, meaning that individual employees and executives are considered part of the team. Addressing your colleagues by their first names is normal.
Punctuality is key for the Dutch. Make sure you are on time or be clear you will be late.
Meetings, can take longer then you used to. This is mainly because everyone is allowed to contribute and will normally not be interrupted. Because of the low context culture cutting someone off is rude.
There are a variety of employment agreements for employees in the Netherlands, but a temporary or permanent contract are the most common.
Temporary labour contract (tijdelijk contract), is a temporary contract for a period of time, normally for six months or one year, with a pre-determined end date. A dismissal procedure is not required to terminate a temporary contract at the end of its duration. It is common but not guaranteed for Dutch employers to offer a second temporary contract when the previous one expires.
From 2020, a temporary contract automatically changes to a permanent contract if an employee has received more than 3 successive temporary contracts or if an employee has had several temporary contracts with his employer for more than 3 years. Sometimes a labour agreement differes this.
Permanent labour contract (vast contract), this is for an indeterminate period of time. This type of contract can only be terminated if the employee resigns or if the employer finds reason to end the contract.
Zero-hour contract (nul uren contract), a zero-hour contract can exist as either a temporary or permanent work agreement. In a zero-hour contract, an employee has no fixed working hours. This allows for a flexible working arrangement where the employee can be spontaneously rostered on.
Employees on zero-hour contracts have similar rights as employees with regular contracts, including sick leave and holiday pay.
Contract with a recruitment agency (uitzendcontract), this is an agreement with a recruitment agency serving as legal employer and salary provider even though you will be working for another company. Your rights are limited.
Most common in the Netherlands is working 40 hours. But things are changing. More companies are mainly in the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht are changing to 4 days 9 hours. Normally this is mentioned in the job description. For lunch you normally get 30 minutes unpaid. This takes something to get used to.
The Dutch start their lunch around midday, between 12 and 12:30. Things are changing a little but this will be considered the average. The time for lunch lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. Eating behind your desk is a little asocial.
What do they eat?
Dutch people love a sandwich, a broodje of a boterham with cheese. Doesn’t get more Dutch then this. Maybe even peanut butter. So If you want to impress your new co-workers have a boterham with cheese and a glass of Milk.
The most common avenue for job seekers is to look directly on job boards/websites. Not only for searching and registering your details but also to keep up to date with prospective employers. Alternativly you can contact headhunters or recruitment agencies, they regularly post vacancies on their sites, and if you are registered with them, they will contact you to alert you of new opportunities.