InterTradeIreland Acumen Graduate Recruitment

InterTradeIreland is the only organisation which supports SMEs across the island to develop North/South trade and business development opportunities for the mutualbenefit of both economies.They encourage better use of the North and South’s collective resources to accelerate trade and business growth across the island and create an environment where it is easier to do business. InterTradeIreland achieve this through co-operative business, policy and research programmes, partnerships and networks.
  • 17,000 SMEs have benefited from our cross-border information
  • 2,000 have taken part in our cross-border programmes
  • £556 million worth of trade and business development generated
  • 930 new jobs created.


The InterTradeIreland Acumen programme provides SMEs with funding to employ a graduate for one year. The successful graduates also have the opportunity to undertake a Post Graduate Diploma in Sales Development from UCD Michael Smurfit Business School. Client companies are from both the Republic and Northern Ireland

and are varied across many sectors. Although the role is a sales and marketing position, graduates from all disciplines apply for the programme reflecting the sectors/industries of the SME companies. The InterTradeIreland Acumen Programme was advertised in the National press, relevant job websites and GradIreland.

Key Findings

  • Solution for 20+ Client Companies
  • Time Savings
  • Advantages to Having Candidate Interviews ‘On Record’

Some of the Highlights

“Sonru was very user friendly and made it easy to communicate with other viewers and interviewers.” – Aisling Meleady, Client Executive, InterTradeIreland Acumen

The recruitment drive involved a two-tiered process. First, applicants were vetted by the internal panel of three InterTradeIreland Acumen staff and then by the SME Client companies who ultimately made the final hiring decision. Initially applicants were shortlisted to attend an Assessment Day and to complete a Sonru interview (they were encouraged to complete the video interview prior to Assessment Day.) A short face-to-face interview was also conducted on the Assessment Day.

“Sonru was an excellent means of getting an idea of who the person was before you met and it certainly helped to refer back to videos afterward.” – Aisling Meleady, Client Executive, InterTradeIreland Acumen

Given that the recruitment process involved an internal InterTradeIreland Acumen team and over twenty SME client companies who were making the hiring decisions, Sonru proved to be a very effective way of handling these many and geographically dispersed interviewers. Sonru proved very useful in three key areas:

  • Sonru enabled the internal team to “see” applicants before meeting face-to-face thus enabling them to design tailored interviews.
  • Sonru provided a ‘record’ of the candidates, which was used to ‘jog the memory’ after the Assessment day as so many applicants were interviewed face-to-face in rapid succession.
  • Sonru enabled the SME clients to view the video interviews remotely and shortlist candidates to face-to-face interviews.


The flexibility of the Sonru tool proved most useful as one of the three internal InterTradeIreland Acumen interviewers was not based in the Dublin office. He watched the video interviews remotely and a phone conference enabled the team to arrive at a shortlist. “Sonru was very user friendly and easy to communicate with viewers and interviewers,” added Meleady.

Furthermore, given that the video interviews were on record and were not scheduled at a particular time, this enabled the interviewers to fit the viewing of the videos around their busy schedules as Aisling Meleady commented, “I watched the videos in spare time after the work day – with another colleague – so it gave us great flexibility, allowing us to focus on our day-to-day activities.”

Time savings and efficiency were found to be the key benefits among the SME clients using Sonru. Carson Mulholland of Fast Engineering found Sonru “hugely innovative in terms of its ability to save us time in organising meetings, waiting for people to come along and saving travel time for our interviewees,” as he personally shortlisted five video interviews to one face-to-face interview. Given that all applicants were from Southern Ireland, “Sonru definitely saved time, we were able to make decisions based on the video interviews,” added Mulholland.

“Sonru was heavily supported by the InterTradeIreland Acumen team and our SME clients with time savings being the key benefit and its primary use being to identify who to bring in for interview,” concluded William H. Maxwell, Programme Director of InterTradeIreland Acumen. The InterTradeIreland Acumen programme, through their strategic use of technology, facilitated a large number of geographically dispersed interviewers to effectively screen candidates without compromising on the quality of their graduate recruits.

With an average response rate of over 80%, Kim O’Kelly, Recruitment Team Lead at Concern Worldwide, maintains that while their candidates are used to online video in their personal life – a given for
 many working outside their own country – they’re usually quite surprised to see it as part of the recruitment process.

Kim presumes their great response rate is due to the personal contact they make with every successful candidate informing them that they will be receiving an invitation to the video interview


“It [Sonru] is probably even more beneficial for our SME clients – being able to assess applicants remotely thus relieving some of the time and resource restraints common to many SMEs.”

Aisling Meleady, Client Executive