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A case study of Heineken on hiring the right person for the right job

Posted by Vy Huynh on Aug 26, 2014 10:30:00 AM


As the job market becomes redundant with candidates, companies are finding it difficult to hire the right employee for the right job. With the vast interview advice and CV resources available online, job seekers are able to design a very attractive CV and prepare & rehearse answers to questions in the interview. With the growing cost of a poor hire, it is imperative to select a candidate that will prove to be beneficial in the long term. The Dutch brewing company Heineken took interviewing candidates to the next level in order to hire the right employee.

On May 25th, 2013, Heineken needed to hire an intern for its Event & Sponsorship Marketing team to prepare for the Champions League final. Heineken received a staggering 1,734 applications for this position. They faced the question how to choose a right talent amongst 1,734 candidates, who not only have good knowledge but also suitable behaviour, thinking style and interests to do the job. Finally Heineken decided not to follow a very strict hiring policy and selected the man who could handle such a responsibility and to take an unconventional route.

As you can watch in the video clip, the interviews were designed to help the brand identified the right talent by getting applicants out of their comfort zone and then putting them into unusual circumstances. This recruitment campaign of Heineken named “The Candidate” which was video compilation of secretly filmed job interviews. In which, rather than asking questions about business knowledge, experiences, Heineken decided to assess their applicants’ personalities such as confidence and resourcefulness, wit, attitude…and ability to respond to three given unusual circumstances. First up, the boss got up-close and personal with them and held their hands and soon after the boss "collapsed" and the interviewees had no option but to try and revive their boss. Finally, a fire-alarm sounded and on their way out, they were forced to help and rescue a stranded Heineken employee from the roof. How the candidates responded to these incidents determind who had the right behaviors, thinking style and interests needed to work in the Heineken marketing department. The winner of the "The Candidate" is Guy Luchting. He is from Germany and he is studying Hospitality Management in the Netherlands. Luchting, whose internship with Heineken is started on 12th February, 2013, said about his interview:

“I really didn’t know what was happening at the job interview."

“First they take my hand and I think ‘Hey, that’s friendly’ and then the guy falls on the floor and next thing I am outside during a fire alarm helping somebody jump off the roof.

“It was insane. But it really is my dream job.”

Lessons learned from Heineken's "The Candidate"

By changing the interview structure, Heineken demonstrated that they could engaging future employees. The campaign successfully grabbed the interest of future employees. Heineken reported a >279% traffic increase to their HR sites and >317% increase in CV’s submitted after campaign launch. Furthermore, this campaign also influenced positively on current employees: 91% of Heineken employees watched the video and found it stimulating for their job. This new method to find out the most suitable candidate for a job received supports worldwide. At Profiles International SEA, we think this is a smart trend to select the right people for the vacancies that companies want to fill. Nowadays, 90% candidates make up their CV when they apply for a job (Business Harvard Review), the candidates also can “act” very well in the interview even the experienced interviewer could not realize. Besides that, we can say that almost hiring decision of the traditional recruitment process still based on the subjective judgment and the feelings of the interviewer or the first impression of the interviewee to the interviewer. These things usually lead to wrong hiring which can see in the increase of turnover rate, ineffective working employees, low employees engagement… According to a study of Harvard University, the factor that decides successfulness of engagement of an employee in a position is the job fit, not knowledge or experiences. Hence, bringing some innovation to the traditional recruitment process is what companies should start thinking of if you want to find out the right talent for the company and avoid wrong hiring. Knowing candidates very well can help companies recruit and retain talents. In other words, by understand candidates’ personalities, thinking style, behaviors and interests, companies can increase the rate of right hiring and fix mentioned problems of wrong hiring.

This recruitment campaign of Heineken is said to be very successful not only in recruitment process but also in branding. Many advertising experts said that this was a very brilliant campaign which promoted the fame of Heineken brand around the world. The campaign fits right in with the brands attitude of ‘Open your World’. Through the various stages of the campaign it not only managed to make candidates look beyond the ordinary but also gave the outside world a glimpse into its culture, thereby strengthening the reputation of beer is fun.

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Topics: interview, behaviores, intersests, turnover rate, thinking style, Effective Hiring, right hiring, recruitment, Big Brand Lessons, wrong hiring, job fit, Personalities, Profiles International SEA

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