I am an Asst Prof working at a mid-size liberal arts college in the US.

Recently I applied for an Associate Professor position in the Netherlands and got invited to do a Zoom interview. I’m pumped! I’ve read a bit about the differences in academia between the two countries, but sure would appreciate any input in what kind of questions I could expect.

I’ll be interviewed by internal 4 professors, one PhD student, and an external scholar. Intense.

I’ve never had to interview before because I did my MSc, PhD, postdoc, Lecturer, Assistant Professor jobs all at the same institution.

Any input on what I can expect, especially from the Dutch and European perspective, but honestly overall, would be great! Should I wear a tie?

  • I recently had an interview for a faculty position in the Netherlands. I did not find the experience any different from other European countries where I had interviews (four in total). One unique question was: How would I approach exams and grading in a lecture with 100s of students? (Given that it's not allowed to involve TAs in grading in the Netherlands.) Commented May 11, 2020 at 11:43
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    Wardrobe questions will mostly depend on your field, rather than the country. Commented May 11, 2020 at 11:45
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    Off topic, but I'm staggered that you went from Master's student to assistant professor without having a single interview. Even though you stayed at the same institution that seems bonkers. Commented May 11, 2020 at 12:20
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    @astronat I went from undergrad student to full professor without being interviewed. I think that means only that I'm old. Commented May 11, 2020 at 22:12
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    @lighthousekeeper "Given that it's not allowed to involve TAs in grading in the Netherlands." That...isn't true! I wonder why they told you that! Maybe you define TA differently somehow? Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


A late answer, but this is for anyone else on the forum searching for Netherlands answers.

For the most part, the topics, focus, and advice for interviewing in the Netherlands is the same for the UK. The hiring process is similar and, thus, is nothing much like the USA. Sample questions for the UK though apply here and there is a lot of guidance on this forum and elsewhere regarding UK interview process and questions.

In the Netherlands, though, be prepared to answer questions about language if you don't already know how to speak Dutch. Even in very-English-speaking Universities (such as mine) there is a strong social push to learn Dutch and there may even be a hiring requirement for you to achieve a certain Dutch level within a few years. Get ready to talk about this and what that means to you. You, yourself, should ask questions regarding the language culture of your department, e.g. if faculty meetings take place in English or in Dutch. Even within the same faculty, it can vary by department.

Second, spend some time familiarising yourself with the Dutch and European funding landscape. Dig through the NWO website and know what Veni, Vidi, and Vicis are. Know about Horizon funding, including the ERC, and the various other EU schemes. Come up with some application plans and run them by a Dutch academic friend to ensure that they make sense. This will put you on even footing with local/European candidates who already know the ropes.

Finally get the Dutch PhD straight in your mind. It is hard for Americans to grasp (I know, I am one), that in most cases Dutch PhDs are employees with pensions etc. They are referred to as PhD Researchers, not students. They are colleagues. At most Dutch Universities there is no paying for a PhD, you are either paid, or you do an "external PhD" where you get supervisors and a library card, but never pay any fees. Okay yes, there are a few other PhD scenarios but this is the most foreign one to a lot of outsiders.

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    "in most cases Dutch PhDs are employees with pensions etc. " After >5 years at the universities almost for free, those spoiled europeans even get a working contract to do a PhD, with holidays, unemployment and retirement schemes included by default! Holidays: something like 8 weeks, if you do not take them all, you can buy a bicycle with what is left over (not paid ou directly). What a strange world :D
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:34
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    Great answer. However, having done both UK and NL interviews, I'd say that the NL one had a lesser focus on 'generic' questions ('sample questions for the UK') and more focus on asking on-the-spot questions about my research as presented during the interview. I'd say the ratio was maybe 20:80 for specific-generic in the UK, and around 50:50 in the NL. So in addition to 'UK academic interview questions' I would definitely practice talking about various parts of your work at different abstraction levels (and even 'sparring' about your research a bit with a colleague if you can).
    – penelope
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:41
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    Similar situation also was true for teaching questions. In the UK, there seems to be more value on willingness and ability to teach foundational courses (in my case, something like "Intro to Programming") and even the more specialised MSc level courses are pretty standardised at least in name ("Image Processing"). In the NL, the focus was on specific, tailored courses ("With your Image Processing background, what course would you propose to the students based on your research interests?").
    – penelope
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 15:44
  • @EarlGrey, nothing is "free" I expect that taxes are generally high as they are in many European countries. It is a social choice to organize things in a certain way. That is the real difference with the US. Education is a social good that can be well or poorly supported with public monies.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 16:06
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    @Buffy The taxes are high but, as implied, you get quite a lot for them. You actually even get £350 towards a bike then you can do the tax thing. Also, there's the 30% tax ruling: for 5 years 30% of my salary is untaxed. The External PhD really is free. You don't have to be physically present in the Netherlands to be doing one, you just need two supervisors to accept you. You can choose whatever you want to be for it. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 18:11

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