The purpose of this study was to examine career conversations between teachers and students in competence-based vocational education in the Netherlands. A total of 32 career conversations were observed and analysed with respect to four elements: content, teacher activities, student activities and relationship. Results showed that career conversations often focused on school issues (such as student's progress and course curriculum) rather than career issues (such as future ambitions or characteristics of a profession). Furthermore, teachers hardly facilitated students in the development of self-directedness. Students asked few questions and teachers often dominated discussions. The findings revealed implications for the practice of career guidance in schools, for example for teachers to change their role from that of a traditional knowledge transmitter to facilitator, provide students with more opportunities for self-direction, and put career issues more centrally and elaborately on the agenda of discussions.