Interview with Nestlé Research: Adapting your hiring strategy in times of COVID-19

Nestlé Research is based in Lausanne, Switzerland, employs approximately 800 people and comprises four Nestlé Institutes: Material Sciences; Health Sciences, Food Safety & Analytical Sciences, and Packaging Sciences. Take a virtual tour of their facilities using this link or read more about Nestlé Research on their website. The below is an interview with Nestlé Research Talent Acquisition Partners Nadia Schild and Jonathan Fearn.?

ResearchGate: How are you adapting your recruitment strategy to the current situation?

Nestlé: Following the virus outbreak, our candidate outreach efforts continue as normal, albeit with some adjustments. Naturally, we switched entirely to remote ways of working through the use of video-based interviews, with the help of Microsoft Teams and Skype, instead of inviting candidates onsite. Much of our talent sourcing already involved contacting candidates based in other regions or countries — we are no strangers to recruiting remotely, so adapting to an entirely virtual strategy wasn’t too much of a challenge. However, we are very much looking forward to once again inviting candidates to our Nestlé Research sites.

Nestlé employees brainstorming in front of the flip-chart
by Nestlé

ResearchGate: We know you would normally use a series of recruitment platforms, including ResearchGate, how has this changed in recent months?

Nestlé: Our multi-platform approach is still proving useful and we continue to use ResearchGate, as well as LinkedIn, for our recruitment activities. Considering candidates from academic and business backgrounds enables us to access a wider talent pool, to select the best applicant for each job’s specific requirements and, ultimately, to hire the best applicants.

ResearchGate: Has your dual approach to recruitment — pre-search and reactive search — stood the test of time, or has this evolved into an entirely new process in the current situation?

Nestlé: We continue to see varied outcomes for our job advertisements, depending on the specific requirements. Many vacancies receive large numbers of applications, making it relatively easy to pinpoint winning candidates. For some positions, however, finding qualified applicants with the right knowledge and experience can be challenging. That’s why our dual approach, which includes a proactive and reactive element, is still very much required.

ResearchGate: Do you think it's important to continue to engage with talented researchers? Why?

Nestlé: Absolutely. The competition for scientific talent is still fierce and, at Nestle, we work to identify new additions to our research teams quickly and efficiently. Recruiting, when other companies in our space are not actively recruiting, enables us to precisely do this. Of course, we take talent selection very seriously — it’s not just about skills and qualification, we also look for scientists who have a passion for food, science, and technology, and who want to be part of an organisation at the forefront of innovation.

ResearchGate: What sets you apart from other research-led organisations in terms of your recruitment strategy and how it is evolving right now?

Nestlé: We find recruitment success at Nestlé Research is based on cross-functional involvement in the end-to-end recruitment process. We invite team members, including different stakeholders from different research institutes, and encouraging them to participate in the recruitment operations.

Scientists with different backgrounds can provide their input along the way — this enables us to benefit from different perspectives and identify the best candidates.

Nestlé employees at the meeting interacting with each other
by Nestlé

ResearchGate: How are candidates responding to your outreach?

Nestlé: Candidates continue to be responsive when contacted, we have not observed any specific change in that respect.

ResearchGate: Do you see the organisation returning to "normality" soon? What does the next phase look like for you?

Nestlé: We are looking forward to returning to normal operations as soon as possible. We’re taking it in small steps and adapting our approach case-by-case — for instance, we hope to resume face-to-face interviews as soon as possible, while of course complying with social distancing measures.

However, we came from this period with some key learnings and take-aways and we definitely believe that remote recruitment can be effective and efficient, especially in some situations like long-distance recruitment, such as in parts of Asia or South America.

With career fairs and conferences canceled and furloughed or fired talent flooding the markets, organizations now have a unique opportunity to secure top research talent with a fully-digital recruitment strategy. Learn more here about how ResearchGate can provide the solutions that you need to win in recruitment today and in the future.