CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centers for scientific research. From Nobel Prize winning physics to the invention of the World Wide Web

(WWW) in 1989, its goal of pure research continues to contribute to science and technology. CERN is funded by 20 European Member States and as a result targets these states when sourcing candidates.

The screening of applicants across such a diverse geographical base translates not only into a potentially costly recruitment process but also considerable scheduling issues to accommodate candidates across different time zones.

CERN have been using our video selection software conducting thousands of interviews since February 2011 in the recruitment of hundreds of roles across a diverse range of disciplines.

More Streamlined Recruitment Process

The introduction of video interviewing has enabled CERN to eliminate the phone interview from their recruitment process.

Furthermore, more thorough CV vetting would have been required. Inviting 10 candidates to complete a video interview from 100 applications from multiple countries, to shortlist to 4 or 5 face to face meetings has made a significant impact on the costs of their multinational sourcing process.

According to James Purvis, CERN’s Head of Recruitment, “Sonru offers huge savings in the cost of bringing people to interview: even reducing the number of personal interviews from 5 to 4 represents a 20% saving. We now use it systematically for almost all recruitments – it’s become a real cost saver as we are recruiting from 20+ countries to Geneva.”

Overview of Typical Recruitment Process

  • # Shortlisted to Video Interview from 100 Applications: 10
  • # Shortlisted to Face-to-Face Interview: 4 or 5
  • Source of Candidate Applications:  Across 20 countries in Europe and sometimes further afield
  • Time estimated to schedule and conduct phone interviews: 1 week
  • Time estimated to set up, invite and view video interviews: 3 days

CERN do not have a multi-stage recruitment process, being invited for a personal interview involves one full day on-site which includes an interview, written tests and a site tour.

The decision is then made after that one day so technology, such as video interviewing, that assists CERN in selecting the best people to bring forward for this intensive one day session has been welcomed.

As CERN sources applications from 20 EU Member States and our solution is available in CERN’s two official languages – English and French – this further promotes the tool internally as the ideal international recruitment solution.

“Automated video screening by Sonru, it’s excellent! It has now become an essential and integral part of our recruitment process. Speak to any hiring manager at CERN and they will recommend it to you. In fact, ‘Sonru’ is almost a recognized verb in the CERN in-house vocabulary.” – James Purvis, Head of Recruitment

Initial Fears Allayed through Usage

Despite initial internal reservations, CERN have come full circle in their attitude toward a automated video selection tool, “Initially when I heard about Sonru, I was worried the process would take more time than conducting phone interviews but in fact it was much quicker, Sonru was perfect, it saved me time.” says John Osborne, a Senior Civil Engineer who was involved in the recruitment of a Project Manager in Civil Engineering.

“Even the hiring managers, who were reluctant at the beginning about using Sonru thinking it would prolong the recruitment process, are now convinced of its use and admit it has accelerated the shortlisting of candidates.” – Agnes Jakab, HR Recruitment Unit

Bringing Better Candidates Forward

CERN users (both from the recruitment unit and the hiring managers) are confident that video interviewing has helped select the best candidates to bring the face-to-face interview stage.

“In a recent case one of our users ran a selection process with Sonru and then another one without it, and realized the difference in the quality of the invited candidates the day of the selection board. He then got back to us saying ‘I will insist on using the video interviews for better filtering next time, it helps us so much in saving time for the members of the selection board, no more useless invitations,” adds Agnes Jakab from CERN’s HR Recruitment Unit.

Rachel Bray, an Applications Support Technical Engineer at CERN and John Osborne from engineering agree.

“On paper, some candidates appear to be ideal; with Sonru we have a more realistic appreciation of the candidate’s language skills, ability to express him/herself and a demonstration of how the candidate deals with stressful situations. We are confident that Sonru has enabled us to invite the best candidates for interview.” – Rachel Bray

“Watching someone speak about their project management experience will tell you a lot more than reading about it on their CV. Being able to see them, see their personality coming across enabled me to connect with them much more than phone interviewing invite the best candidates for interview.” – John Osborne

Unanimous Positive Feedback & Flexibility

CERN recorded extremely positive feedback following the introduction of video interviewing, both internally among the recruitment and management team, and externally among the candidates themselves.

“Since the trial, we now use it systematically for almost all recruitments,” commented Purvis, adding “with a response rate of over 85%, no negative feedback from candidates, and buy-in from both the recruiters and hiring managers, Sonru is certainly the way forward for CERN.”

Purvis mentions the advantages of being able to view and share the video interviews by adding “everyone could fit recruitment in and around their own busy agenda.”

“The flexibility, being able to watch the video interviews at your leisure was excellent. I watched most of the videos from home so having this sort of flexibility meant I could concentrate on my own tasks during business hours,” added John Osborne.

Candidate Feedback

“To tell you the truth – blown away.”

“A video interview by CERN – it doesn’t get much better than that!”

“I felt positive because it gave me the chance to participate in an interview for CERN and experience a new kind of interview.”


Using Video Selection works well for CERN with time saving regularly cited as the number one benefit. Video selection fits very well with CERN’s strategy of using video within the HR function. With over 200 openings which include jobs, graduate/post graduate posts and internships in the pipeline, our video selection tool now forms an integral part of CERN’s recruitment process.