CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres 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 promotes their vacancies via their own recruitment website, social networks and professional networks such as

Twitter, LinkedInFacebook and YouTube and also across over 40 job boards throughout Europe.

CERN have been using Sonru’s video selection software conducting over 700 interviews since February 2011 in the recruitment of over 100 roles across a diverse range of disciplines.

Key Findings

  • Applicants from 20+ Countries 
  • Replaced Phone Interviews
  • Cost Savings
  • Better Candidates Selected

Some of the Highlights

“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.” – John Osborne, Senior Civil Engineer

The introduction of Sonru 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 with “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,” commented James Purvis, CERN’s Head of Recruitment.

“We now use it systematically for almost all recruitment – it’s become a real cost saver as we are recruiting from 20+ countries to Geneva.” – James Purvis, Head of Recruitment

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 Sonru, that assists CERN in selecting the best people to bring forward for this intensive one day session has been welcomed.

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

Despite initial internal reservations, CERN have come full circle in their attitude towards Sonru’s 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.

CERN users (both from the recruitment unit and the hiring managers) are confident that Sonru has helped select the best candidates to bring to 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 agrees adding “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.”

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

“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.” – John Osborne, Senior Civil Engineer

CERN recorded extremely positive feedback following the introduction of Sonru, both internally among the recruitment and management team, and externally among the candidates themselves. Candidate feedback included comments such as “To tell you the truth – blown away. A video interview by CERN – it doesn’t get much better than that,” and “I felt positive because it gave me the chance to participate in an interview for CERN and experience a new kind of interview.”

Since the trial, we now use it systematically for almost all recruitment,” 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.”


Everyone could fit recruitment in and around their own busy agenda.”

James Purvis, Head of Recruitment