How do I successfully get through a performance interview?

Now you are living in the Netherlands, you have to deal with lots of new things. One of these is probably the performance interview at work. How do you manage to get through it successfully? Read on to find out.

What is the purpose of the performance interview?

The performance interview is a way for your manager to judge how well you are performing at work. And what could be better. My website already discusses how Dutch employers want their personnel to be satisfied. So the interview is also about what you like and don’t like about your job. It’s a way of judging if you need other stimuli to keep on doing your job well.

How often does such a performance interview occur?
This varies. In most cases it will be once or twice a year. But sometimes your manager will ask you for an interview when there are changes at work. That might be because of relocation, a change in your function, a new manager or some similar change.

What is expected from you during this interview?
In Dutch a performance interview is called functioneringsgesprek. It is not an interview in which the boss interrogates the subordinate: you have the right to ask questions as well (but give your boss precedence in asking questions). This said, it is expected that you ask questions. If you don’t, your manager will hold you responsible and if problems emerge, they will think it´s your responsibility for not having taken the chance to raise these issues here.

What kind of questions can you expect?
As an introduction to the dialogue, you can expect a general question like: how is your job at the moment? The Dutch are very direct, so if you’re not very satisfied, you can answer immediately: not very well or things could be better. You don’t need to hold an introductory conversation about the weather. This isn’t too well appreciated in the Netherlands, because … time is money! If everything is going well and your manager and you are both satisfied, the conversation is quickly over. That’s a positive sign!

If there are things that aren’t going well, you should talk about them openly with your manager. Ensure that you talk positively, because the Dutch dislike complaining. It is expected that you should solve your problem by yourself if you can. Of course there are old-fashioned companies, but they are exceptions. If you are having problems with a colleague, it is expected that you talk it over with them first. Only if you don’t succeed, should you ask somebody else to help you out, i.e. your manager. Need more working space? Discuss it! If you want advice about finding promotion within your company, see the forthcoming newsletters.

You should expect to receive a report of the interview.
Your manager won’t like to be seen to judge you behind your back. If you still have questions about the interview, then ask for another conversation to talk it out. Maybe one of you didn’t understand the other well. Don’t just drop in on your manager: make an appointment. If you are angry about something, calm down before taking action.

©Sophia Vassiliou 2009

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