This article is to share my interview experiences in Vanderlande, in order to give other people more insights about how recruitment and interview process is.
My background: bachelor and master in law in NL: international law, EU law, human rights, immigration. Living in NL around 8 years. Fluent in Mandarin, English and intermediate level of Dutch.
My previous intern and working experiences:
- C & M Advocaten: legal research intern – immigration area
- Everaert Advocaten Immigration Lawyers: applying residence permit for clients – highly skilled migrant, family reunification, permanent residence permit etc.
- A Chinese B.V.: assisting clients invest their business in NL and immigration consultant.
When foreigner nationals try to look for a job in the Netherlands, I think your own ability (50%)+ luck (50%) combined that can make you a successful landing. Because, frankly speaking, there are not many positions that suit your background and you like and do not require fluency in Dutch. As a non-Dutch speaking, what we can do it just to be very good prepared and apply as much as we can!
My 3 rounds interview:
In Oct 2018, I saw there was a vacancy in LinkedIn “International Mobility Officer” in my recommendation page. After several times of viewing the position and search about tax equalization, tax protection and compensation package (here I did a lot of research about the content, very important before you applied for any jobs!). I felt my background can match the vacancy very well, as it required for example “an international language is a plus, a personal expat experiences is a huge plus” and I have had experiences in working in 2 immigration law firms etc. Therefore, I have adjusted my CV and motivation letter and sent through. There was a funny story behind it, there were 2 vacancies, international mobility officer and mobility specialist, due to my qualifications, I wanted to apply for the first one. However I made a mistake by sending my application to the senior vacancy. So I called the recruiter right away to adjusted it, and also I wanted to speak Dutch to impress the recruiter “oh, look, a foreigner can speak good Dutch!”(later I found out it actually doesn’t matter that much). However, the recruiter was never the one who picked up the phone, and in the meantime I found the waiting music in Vanderlande was quite nice, it is like a jazz.
Some background of global mobility: international mobility is inside HR department. For multinational companies, there are a lot of employees that needs to move around, to support projects worldwide. Therefore, the employees are actually my “clients”. My job is to arrange their assignment well and they can perform their best at work in a totally different county. The assignment is not limited to NL to other country, but also for instance: Indian – US, SGP – NL, USA – AUS etc. NL headquarter coordinates the whole assignment. This job requires flexibly, culture awareness, good knowledge of tax, social security and good communication skills etc.
1st round interview
After 2 months of waiting, I received a call to have the interview with recruiter. (I was actually receiving an offer from another company by then, but somehow I just felt that this job is the one for me, so as soon as I got the confirmation of the 1st round interview, I declined the other offer. Some sort of love for the first sight, isn’t it!).
So when the big day came, I did my makeup and dressed well for the skype interview(later we didn’t use the camera, only the voice instead, but I found properly dressed can make you have more confidence.), the recruiter asked my past working experiences, so I demonstrated that my experiences matches the job very well, since myself is an expat who is coming this country all alone, trying to survive and build my study, life and career here, therefore what the “clients” are going through, is what I have been through. And also I have a strong culture awareness. Even though culture differences seems small details, in fact, it is a key factor if you can trust your business partner. For example Asia in general is a Relationship culture, which means that before and when doing business, it is significantly important that business partner can have some time knowing each other, having a personal relationship – having dinners, drinking, going out (it explains the several rounds dinner in south Asia), but Europe is more Transaction culture, which means, as long as my product is good, that should be the thing I focus. (I will touch upon this topic later). After around 40 mins communicating, I can feel that the recruiter felt good about me.
2nd round interview
After 2 weeks, I received another interview invitation with the team manager Amber. During our interview she would like to know my study in a more detailed, living and working experiences and my personality. A job interview is two ways, the manager wants to know you, but you also need to know the team and the company. I answered her question honestly (I recommend to answer question honestly, it is understandable that in some cultures, it is alright to “cover” some facts or make up with some other stories that is not your own, however, I don’t recommend here, I will talk about it in details later.) Amber asked me why I didn’t continue to work in law area. I told her that I just like some areas in law, for example immigration and human rights. And she also asked me it is quite difficult to study both bachelor and master in law in NL, how did I persevere. I said that I have to graduate on time, otherwise it is too expensive for tuition and visa and it is a shame for my family if I delayed it. So if I have a goal, I will accomplish it, whatever it takes.
I shared that I am able to feel our “clients” because I was/am in the same position – in a foreign country, therefore I know the feeling and I know where/how can I assist them to make them have a good assignment, and benefit the company in a bigger picture, from my personal/friends’ expat experiences and let alone the strong culture awareness I have, and my eagerness to learn. I am confident that I am the candidate for them.
We talked more than 1 hour, and were “kicked out” by the people who need the conference room. The manager was really friendly, she helped me to make my tea and she asked me if I have interviews or deadlines and she was sorry that I had to wait quite long. (I think here you can feel it it’s the either the Dutch cooperate culture or the company culture or the team culture, or all of them, it is quite employee consideration and friendly). When I went back home, I was telling my friend that I am bit afraid if I talk too much, but she told me it is fine, and Dutch companies like to communicate your thoughts.
When the second day, I got the news that I was invited for the 3rd round interview, it is with the department director and 2 colleagues. So normally in Dutch companies, if the manager feels good about you, it is quite normal to invite your future colleagues to have a chat with you too, because you will work with them, it is important for both of you to establish a good working relationship.
My director Monique was a very friendly lady, very well dressed. She shared with me her working experiences, she said she also studied law, used to work in big 4, she used to work in different countries around the world and she likes dogs. She told me that Vanderlande was a client of EY, and then Vanderlande invited her to join the company. And she told me that one thing that impressed very much is that everyone in this company feels very proud! (Here it shows that the Dutch cooperate culture has less hierarchy, at less than Asian or North America, because I think at least in Asian culture, usually the boss will not share so much). I sincerely expressed my admiration and wish I could also experience these later in my life and my working experiences + what I have experienced as an expat + my thoughts regarding the culture differences. Monique was quite satisfied about me, so she told me that normally she would inform the candidate to wait at home and inform her the good news via email, but she wanted to tell me that I am employed! Next she asked my previous salary and she would discuss how to give me a good offer.
After that I met my two future colleagues. They seemed really friendly, one colleague asked me “what is the weekend Lydia look like”, I was bit surprised because I thought they would ask my working experiences. (Here you can see again that the company itself also have a bit more informal culture,I will share more in a detailed later).
After finished the interview, I called my mum right away to share the good news.
I remember before I officially started, Monique and Amber sent me emails saying that they are really excited to have me started and my desk is even ready. This is quite heart-warming.
During the my first day (Friday), the two colleagues in my team was having a day off, so Margret wrote me a note saying that have a nice day and see me on Monday.
This is the story how did I get a job as a non-Dutch speaker, especially with the whole virus situation, it makes more difficult for non-EU students to find a job. What I want to say is never give up, apply as much as you can and trust yourself, even though it might be frustrating, but I am pretty sure that it will all turn out good in the end!
PS: Some topics I will address at a later stage in a more detailed article.
More to come…….
Lydia 2 May 202