CERN Jobs Insight


“Feel like I have to write a post about why Recruiters do not want to find a sledgehammer when looking to insert a drawing pin.” MA

Interviewing James Purvis, Head of Talent Acquisition at CERN

What about if for once, roles were reversed? What if you had the chance to interview a Recruitment Specialist? Would you take this opportunity to ask some of the most challenging questions you have personally been asked in a past interview experience?

This month, James Purvis, CERN Head of Talent Acquisition, is answering some of the questions you always had about recruitment at CERN, and which I dared ask him on your behalf!

Do you remember your candidate experience at CERN?

I was first invited to CERN to attend an interview for a student work-placement in the Management Information Systems group at CERN in 1989. It was a real luxury to fly out to Geneva with British Airways as a student. I remember being walked along a labyrinth of dimly-lit Orwellian looking corridors by a...


Feel like I have to change career when most of the cover letters I read say "as you can see from my application, I am the perfect match for this job" while I can't find any relevant skills in the CV.” MA

D Day

Once upon a time… in the midst of the 2015 war for talents… a squad of Recruiters were looking for the hidden gem. The sourcing Ninja, the logistics Expert, the veteran HR Trainer aka the Swiss Army knife of the RU, have all done their job brilliantly, and Recruitment Specialist MA is now preparing to finalise the exfiltration of the best applicant within 4 remaining targets.

After having applied to a job at a European Organization for Nuclear Research, Applicant 139161 is preparing for an interview.

It’s been 2 weeks now that I’ve been waiting for this day. I’m glad to be given the opportunity to show that I am definitely the one they are...


“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could forward all my unsuccessful applications to the ex-employer of the new staff we just hired? This would save time and energy for other recruiters.” MA

Another year at CERN

Ah, January… New Year’s resolutions, cold weather, dark afternoons… If you are just returning from a 2 week coconut-trees-and-white-sand-beaches Christmas break (and even if you’re returning from somewhere else), you’re unlikely to want to face another reality principle which will give the final blow to your holiday spirit: an overloaded mailbox with tons of urgent emails to deal with.

So, imagine coming back from 2 weeks off with no email from your colleagues. Imagine being able to focus on the upcoming year, avoiding spending hours reviewing emails and trying to find out if they can be safely archived without requiring any additional action from your end? Wouldn’t this extend the holiday spirit?

When I came back after the 2 weeks end-of-year closure at CERN, I was not worried



“Received another CV with the incorrect job title targeted: Freight Forwarder instead of Legal Assistant. Feel like the applicant could just forward his CV to another organisation without checking the content.” MA

Serial applicants please also click here

If you enjoy reading and you’re the kind of person who could easily read a bestseller in a couple of days, I have a challenge for you. I won’t ask you to read the 600 pages of a famous thriller referring to CERN in one go, and to send me your thoughts about antimatter, but would you be able to go through the same amount of text and accurately select the most interesting 60 pages within a limited timeframe? How challenging would that be?

Recruiters at CERN go through each CV and every application form received. In our process, we do the initial shortlisting, forwarding only the relevant applications to the hiring manager who will then select candidates for the video interview. The number of applications varies, but we often receive more than a...


“Feel like working several days on an attractive advert is useless, when the main motivation to apply for most applicants I read in their cover letter, is to use their language skills, when these are not the main elements required for the post.” MA

What are we doing while you’re waiting?

It’s been a few weeks now that you’ve submitted your online application, and this fantastic job opportunity at CERN keeps you awake at night. You’ve subscribed to the RSS feed on the CERN job website, the job status page is one of your top favourites in your browser, and you have done everything you could to follow up, even trying to track via LinkedIn whoever could be involved in the selection process. Meanwhile, what is the Recruitment Unit doing?

Well, we’re working hard of course!

CERN receives around 40.000 applications a year, coming from all its member states. To manage these applications, it is important to us to follow key principles as explained in our policy, which has inevitably an impact on methods, tools, systems...