Heineken’s quirky job interviews go viral online

Breaking the recruitment mold, the Dutch brewer conducted unorthodox interviews, videoed them, and asked current employees to vote for the most appealing candidate. Then it took the whole process public.

A job applicant going in for an interview at a world-famous beer brewing company might expect the interview to be a little different from the traditional corporate evaluation. But the young go-getters interviewing for an internship position at Heineken had no idea what they were in for.

There were combative questions and forced hand-holding. They had to deal with the interviewer’s suffering a medical episode. Things culminated with a fire alarm and an emergency situation with a person possibly jumping off a building.

It was all part of a Heineken campaign called The Candidate, which was crafted not only to energize employees in regard to the company’s culture, but also to give YouTube viewers and blog fans a different view of the Dutch brewer.

“At a time when it’s very tough to get catch a career break, Heineken wanted to encourage young adults to stand out from the crowd by being inventive, resourceful, and innovative,” a Heineken spokeswoman says.

The approach

The Candidate was planned “over a period of months,” with the goal of reinforcing Heineken’s identity of being “inventive and resourceful,” the spokeswoman says.

“It broadens horizons and inspires consumers to be inventive about their career options,” she says.

The interviewers narrowed the initial 1,734 applicants down to three, but then enabled the Heineken Brand Team to vote using an internal portal for the last three candidates.

The winner, Guy Luchting, now works with the colleagues who voted—”so they were in the best position to understand the qualities required,” the spokeswoman says.

Once Luchting was announced as the winner in a huge event at Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy, video of the process went up on YouTube and netted nearly 2.8 million views. Though the process puts Heineken’s employee culture on display, the spokeswoman says it’s a great way for Heineken to show how it’s different from other brands.

The internal message

Danny Brown, chief technologist at ArCompany, blogged about the video and what it says about Heineken’s culture. It’s all about what he calls the “internal customer.”

“Heineken has won several awards for its employee culture,” Brown notes. “I think the video is a great way to share this mindset, without being overtly promotional about Heineken the employer. It may even be a marketing video at its base level, but it doesn’t come across that way.”

What does come across, he says, is an internal culture that supports what employees bring to the table.

“Its message says, ‘This is the company you built and this is why your decisions and input are important,'” Brown says.

Heineken’s spokeswoman adds that employees who got their jobs at the company through traditional means shouldn’t think any less of how they got hired. Different jobs need different skills.

“Guy’s resourcefulness when confronted with the fire-alarm situation was very impressive,” the spokeswoman says. “He got involved straight away, with little regard for the fact that he wasn’t a full-time employee and [was] merely attending an interview.”

The external push

For a video ostensibly about job interviews, Heineken’s The Candidate video has gotten ample attention.

“This is a great example of an organization allowing its people side to come through,” Brown says. “Watching the video, you get a sense of fun and, ‘We work hard, but we also don’t take ourselves too seriously.’ Given the product in question, beer, it’s a great fit to the type of audience that would appreciate the video.”

It helped that Heineken also got the video featured on numerous blogs through sponsorships.

The spokesman says Heineken may not use this exact process again to hire a new employee, but the company will try innovative ways to hire candidates who match the company’s values when the next opening arises.

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