Café Pro – a new approach to recruitment

Our people play an essential role in the success and growth of the Vifor Pharma Group. We know that to become a global leader in iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal therapies, we need to hire top talent. That’s why recently Vifor Pharma in Fribourg took an unconventional route when interviewing local candidates – our HR colleagues participated in the first local ‘Café Pro’.

Cafe Pro is a ‘job dating’ event where candidates meet for a 10-15 minutes coffee with HR professionals, recruiters and/or hiring managers from different companies. This concept was born in France and has been a growing trend in Switzerland over the last year.

Aude Germanier, Head of Human Resources Mid-size countries, and ambassador of Café Pro Fribourg, organised the first event in Fribourg, which is the 11th Café Pro event in Switzerland. Nadia Piller, Head HR Fribourg/Ettingen, and Marilda Martins, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, represented Vifor Pharma and interviewed the candidates interested in working for us.

The objective of this event was to enhance the visibility of the candidate’s personality instead of assessing them on work experience alone. Specifically, Nadia and Marilda had the chance to speak with potential candidates and to better understand what type of role they were looking for, who they are and the potential added value they can bring to Vifor Pharma. This unusual recruitment style increases the chance for candidates with rather atypical profiles to be interviewed – perhaps those considering a change in professional orientation, or those coming from abroad and without local job experience, to be considered for future positions in the company. In fact as Café Pro candidates can present themselves in person, they can explain their career choices and experiences without having to pass a pre-selection process. These aspects are not always clearly highlighted in typical application letter and CV. Why? Because the first part of the recruitment process, proven competencies and work experience often play an important role when selecting candidates.

Marilda explained: “We receive more than 20’000 applications a year and therefore need to make rational choices. We cannot guess a personality based on a CV or application letter and we unfortunately do not always have the time to contact each applicant individually. Having a short conversation during the Café Pro event allows recruiters to see beyond the CV and to understand the real motivations of a candidate.”

Furthermore, the friendly and informal environment of Café Pro encourages candidates to relax and feel comfortable. Many of them do not have a great deal of experience being interviewed and often feel very nervous. The event also gives candidates the opportunity to network and liaise directly with experts in Human Resources, get tips for their job search and to better understand the process of hiring from a recruiters’ perspective. For us as a company, it is an excellent opportunity to have an exchange with the candidates, strengthening our local collaboration.

Nadia and Marilda met approximately ten candidates each, most of them had already applied at Vifor Pharma in the months leading up to the event. “It was very rewarding to see the candidate’s genuine interest in Vifor Pharma and to give them some further advice. The candidates were really well prepared and had a very positive attitude. After the session at Café Pro, some of them were invited back for further interviews.”, said Marilda.

Getting to know the candidates better, giving advice and taking time for them without expecting something in return is what motivates our recruiters day to day. It shows Respect, one of our core company values.

Watch the event TV interview (in French).