Frequently Asked Questions about the TNO Trainee Programme

Do you have questions about the TNO Trainee Programme? We have drawn up a selection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
Application procedure Trainee selection

1. Dates, deadline and procedures

When does the TNO Trainee Programme start?

The TNO Trainee Programme starts on Wednesday, 1 September 2021.

When is the deadline for applying?

Sunday 11.59 p.m., 16 May 2021.

In what language should I write my application (CV, motivation letter)?


Can I access my supporting document and/or video after I have submitted it?

You can no longer access the originally uploaded versions. In case you accidentally uploaded a wrong version of your documents, you can send the right version to

Are all documents really necessary?

Yes, they are. We will not consider your application if any of the four ‘documents’ is missing:

  • Resume
  • Motivational essay
  • Grades
  • Video

When do I know if I am through to the online assessment?

The first announcement will be on 20 May. We will then let you know whether or not you are invited for the next step: our online assessment. The outcome of that assessment together with your application will lead to either an invite for the trainee selection day or a rejection. You will be notified about that 9 June at the latest.

What can I expect when I am through to the next round, the online assessment?

Our partner LTP provides you with an online assessment that consists of questionnaires about your personality, drives, values and capabilities. If the results of your tests, cv, motivation and video pitch match our wishes and criteria for the TNO Trainee Programme, we will invite you to the trainee selection day.

What does the trainee selection day consist of?

During the selection day (18 June), you will have two job interviews, fulfill a group assignment and make a pitch. You will also get to know current and former trainees.

Last year, due to Covid-19 restrictions we decided to organize the Selection Day virtually. We expect to host the trainee selection day online again this year too. You will hear more about this in due course.

We have a full day planned on the 18th so make sure that you have a computer, some private space and lots of coffee ready. And just to be sure your mic and camera are working as planned, we offer to test your set up and the connection with us Thursday afternoon, 17 June at 4 PM. 

In the week of the 18th you will receive your personal planning for the day in which you will have two interviews, a group assignment and we ask you to give a short presentation. Additionally, you will virtually meet current and former trainees and managers of TNO. 

What are the important dates in the selection process?

Deadline for applying: 16 May
Trainee selection day: 18 June
Final interview: 28-30 June
Presentation of the terms of employment: 14 July
Start: 1 September

I cannot attend the trainee selection day, can I still apply for the TNO Trainee Programme?

The purpose of the trainee selection day is for us to meet you and for you to meet TNO. Therefore we find it important that you attend the trainee selection day. If you cannot attend the trainee selection day, please inform us as soon as possible.

How do the guidelines around COVID-19 influence the trainee selection?

With COVID-19 still among us, we are of course monitoring official guidelines closely. We keep a close eye on the RIVM guidelines. These guidelines are leading for the organisation of the trainee selection and the trainee selection day. We will make sure everyone can comply with these guidelines. Like we said above, we expect to host an online Selection Day this year too unless regulations allow a physical meeting. We will keep you posted.

When do I know if I am through to the online assessment?

The first announcement will be on 20 May. We will then let you know whether or not you are invited for the next step: our online assessment. The outcome of that assessment together with your application will lead to either an invite for the trainee selection day or a rejection. You will be notified about that 9 June at the latest.

Can I withdraw my application?

Yes, you can. Depending on what stage you are in the process, please contact the recruiter or mail

I have not been shortlisted or selected. Will I be able to ask why my application has not been accepted?

We do our utmost to be as transparent as possible about our process and the qualifications we select upon. Due to the huge amount of interest for the TNO Trainee Programme, we unfortunately cannot give feedback on a personal note after round 1 (cv assessment) and 2 (online assessment).
After joining us at the Trainee Selection Day or the final interviews, we will of course inform you personally.

What kind of screening is involved?

All applicants need a certificate of conduct and additionally a screening by the General Intelligence and Security Service.

When is the next TNO Trainee Programme opening up?

In September 2021 we will be opening up the procedure for the TNO Trainee Programme that starts February 2022.

2. Video

What is it you are looking for in my video?

We want you to tell us what makes you tick, and that can be anything. Maybe you are into a Michael Reeves way of experimenting, or maybe your biggest dream is to develop an awesome roller coaster. We are looking for something extra.

What language do I use in my video?

Please record your video in English.

How long does the video need to be?

The length is less important than the size of the video.  But a maximum of 5 MB means it will be a short video (30 seconds or less). There are several online tools available to compress your video when needed.

How professional does my video need to be?

We all understand some of you may be more natural or more at ease in front of a camera. We also understand if English is not your mother tongue. Do not worry about that. Be yourself. 

What kind of video format are you supporting?

Our applicant tracking systems supports MP4, MOV, WMV, MPG and MPEG formats. Be aware that a video in any other format cannot be uploaded. 

3. The TNO Trainee Programme

How many trainee spots are available?

We have a maximum of seven spots available.

Do I have influence on what my first assignment will be?

That depends. When more than one research manager is interested in your application, your preference will of course be taken into account.

What are the regular working hours?

The TNO Trainee Programme is a fulltime programme. Meaning: Monday till Friday, 40 hours a week. Our offices open during regular business hours.

Where will I be working?

That depends on the unit you will be working for, but it will be one of our Dutch locations. Our head office is based in The Hague. See all our locations.

Is there a dress code at TNO?

No, there isn’t. Check our socials if you want to see what our colleagues look like. For the selection day, we advise business casual.

Will I receive a certificate or reference letter at the end of the TNO Trainee Programme?

No, you will not. The TNO Trainee Programme means you get to work in different roles, which you can put on your resume. During our selection procedure we will ask you for a reference.

Is there any way to extend my TNO Trainee Programme?

No. The TNO Trainee Programme ends after two years. We do hope, of course, that you will continue working at TNO.

4. International applicants

Does TNO provide accommodation during the selection process if I need to be present in person?

When needed, we reimburse hotel costs. Please check with HR first before booking

What services do you offer for impats?

TNO takes care of a number of things for new employees from abroad. Ranging from accommodation to tax and language help.

Do I need to live in the Netherlands to qualify for a trainee position?

Please note we only consider applications from Europe based residents. If you live in the Netherlands or another European country but you are a non-EU citizen, TNO can provide sponsorship for your working permit in the Netherlands.

Do I need to speak Dutch to be eligible to apply?

In general, Dutch is not really needed for either living here or working at TNO. Some units though have predominantly Dutch speaking clients, and therefore speaking Dutch can be a requirement. Once you start the TNO Trainee Programme, we do offer Dutch courses.

How do I qualify from abroad?

The same as any other applicant. Check our selection criteria and keep in mind that due to your country of origin screening processes may take longer and we only reimburse relocation costs for European citizens coming to the Netherlands.

5. Study background and qualifications

What are the selection criteria?

A Master degree or PhD of a STEM study (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). You did not graduate more than 2 years ago from your Master of PhD, counting from February 1st, the starting date of the program. An international profile (education/work/volunteering abroad, aptitude to work in an international atmosphere).

In your motivation letter and video we hope to see that:
  • You have an extensive knowledge base and experience to help solve societal and economic issues.
  • You are driven by knowledge and like to translate it into practice.
  • You want to innovate and look beyond the status quo.
  • You are bold in generating new ideas.
  • You have strong communication skills, which allow you to connect with the people around you and work towards new solutions.
  • You want to excel, you love a challenge and are comfortable with taking responsibility.
  • You take control in your work as well as in your own development.
  • You have a broad interest, which is shown by extracurricular activities in addition to your studies

What level of studies is required?

MSc or PhD.

I will receive my master’s degree after the start date of the TNO Trainee Programme. Can I still apply?

No, you need to have your diploma by the day you start, 1 September 2021.

Which study backgrounds are you looking for?

We are focusing on STEM studies and people with a research master. That does not mean other studies are excluded but those with a background in STEM and research experiences will have far more options within TNO.

What if my background is not included?

Then it seems that the TNO Trainee Programme may not be the best match for you. You can register for a job alert for your own background or check our other vacancies.

Can I contest the decision of the evaluators?

To be honest, not really. Matching the right candidates and our available spots is a puzzle where you can rely on the recruiters and research managers to keep your best interest at heart. In the end we all benefit from the best possible match.

6. More information

I would like to know more about the TNO Trainee Programme. How can I get more information?

Check out the trainee blog or binge-watch all our trainee video’s on YouTube.

How can I stay up to date about the vacancy publication about the next trainee selection?

Subscribe for our TNO Job Alert, and check the box Job Type > Trainee Programme.

I have a question that is not on the website. How can I contact you?

You can contact Anna Herder, Recruiter, via +31 (0)6 – 21 91 56 75.


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