Top tips for applicants


Opportunities at CERN you may not have thought about

If you are passionate about science, new technologies or Physics, and if you’re looking to work in a recognised international organisation, CERN is definitely a place you should be considering in your professional journey. As for most first class employers getting a staff contract at CERN is a competitive process(25.000 applications received per year), however there are other contract opportunities applicants may not initially think of. Indeed, while CERN employs approximately 2500 staff members,in 2015 more than 10.000 people worked on the CERN site under another type of contract or association. So if one of your dreams is to work at CERN, read on!

CERN’s workforce is defined under 3 categories: Employed Members of the Personnel (MPE), Associated Members of the Personnel (MPA), and contractors/temporary personnel. As the Talent Acquisition Group has a key role in the selection process for MPE (...


The day I called the silver medallist

Have you ever experienced this very intense moment when you are about to hear from important news? You know it’s these everlasting seconds where your heart is ready to jump out of your chest, just before hearing something you have been waiting for, for days. I remember this happening to me on a few occasions while applying for jobs, when receiving an email or a phone call from a recruiter. Before opening the email whose subject title is not self-explanatory, or while starting the phone conversation with basic sentences such as “Hi this is MA calling from xxx company. Is this a good moment to talk?”, the only thing one can do in such situations is to wait for the emotional impact the news will have, during just a few seconds

Not being selected is always bad news when you’ve put so...


How to answer "Why do you want to work for us?"

 "Why do you want to work for us ?" rates as probably the most ubiquitous question ever asked to candidates - asked at virtually every interview - and yet 90% of candidates answer poorly. To exacerbate the situation - the renowned great career websites offering advice on how to answer this question offer (in my opinion) relatively poor advice.

Lets take some examples from CERN to illustrate how not to answer. These are real answers (anonymised) that candidates have given in response to this question:

Q: "Why do you want to work for CERN?"

A: "I have always dreamed of working in Nuclear'. (Well - this shows poor research of what CERN does as, apart from ISOLDE, CERN is a high energy particle physics lab. The N for Nuclear is a bit of a misnomer in the title.)

A: "I want to work in an international...


The good the bad and the hippo

 So here you are, in the interview room, facing a panel of 5 or more, and waiting for one of them to fire the first question. Who seemed to be the most skeptical when you entered the room while you were trying to make a first good impression? Who is smiling and is likely to be easily convinced by your arguments? Who will ask the most challenging questions about the not-so-well-explained lines in your CV?

 An interview is a unique situation and there is always a specific dynamic within panel members: they may or may not be used to work together, they may or may not have the same stakes or investment in the process, and they may or may not be familiar with the exercise. Sometimes, they may not even have exactly the same vision about...


Working to live, living to work, or surviving at work ?

What do you think brings us to work ?

Since the early stages of my education background, I’ve been trying to understand what motivates people to work. If today I have a clearer vision on this topic, I didn’t understand at the beginning what could bring someone to spend one-third of his/her adult life at work, or what would push someone to continue working after retirement age, or even after winning the lottery.

As the saying goes:

Motivation is something managers will look at for the purpose of talent retention, employee engagement, and they will usually consider it as a performance indicator. But motivation is also something recruiters will assess at different stages of the selection process (cover letter, interview, onsite visit/meeting with the team), as a crucial complement to technical and...


Referral Letters: guidelines for you and your referees

Have you ever been recommended by a friend to download a fancy new apps from Apple or Google that s/he particularly liked, before even having heard about it?

There are many occasions in life where recommendations and feedback from others can be useful, and shall be sought. As an applicant, it’s probably a good thing to look beyond what can be learned via the organisation’s official communication channels: by discussing with someone who is working or has worked for an employer, you...


The (too) perfect applicant

What was the most recent stressful event during which you wanted to be seen at your very best? Perhaps for your final oral exam at Uni, for the very first meeting with your parents in law, or for a sports event in which you were competing? Do you remember how you prepared for it? Did you know roughly what to expect before?

Each year, recruiters meet a significant number of people who are in a similar situation and they wholeheartedly acknowledge the fact that going through a selection process can be a stressful experience, especially at the interview stage. That’s what we do at CERN, and we try to minimize this feeling by giving applicants information they would need to be best prepared for it.

Preparation is key, and the perfect applicant would have this...


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...


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...