Bringing interviews into the YouTube and Skype era

The idea came to Edward Hendrick during his own job-hunting days

Edward Hendrick, chief executive of Sonru: spent countless hours travelling from his home to various locations around the country for interviews that frequently lasted less than half an hour. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Edward Hendrick, chief executive of Sonru: spent countless hours travelling from his home to various locations around the country for interviews that frequently lasted less than half an hour. Photograph: Conor McCabe

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 01:00

Every day of the week, job applicants to international organisations such as CERN, Volvo, Nestlé, GSK, Qatar Airways, Morrisons, SAS, Thames Water and Tiger Brands are recording first-round video interviews using an online service provided by Irish company Sonru. The company is the brainchild of entrepreneur Edward Hendrick, who began developing the technology in his home in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, seven years ago.

The company has just celebrated its fifth birthday. Despite the fact that it has grown to employ 30 people with offices in Singapore, the UK, Australia and South Africa, the company has stayed true to its roots and is still headquartered in Enniscorthy.

“We’ve kept the HQ in Wexford despite Dublin being such a major technology centre because it’s home, the lifestyle in the country is so much better with the land and coast and so on,” says Hendrick.

“That’s all very well but ultimately, we’ve found really good people here as well. As our company has grown and our technical requirements have grown more sophisticated, it has become necessary to run our development team out of Dublin’s Digital Hub because that’s where you find the technical talent. We’ve the best of both worlds.”

The Sonru application works by replicating as closely as possible a normal early stage interview. Applicants log on to an online interview set up by an employer or recruiter where they find a list of questions and some background information on the employer and the post.

Once they have familiarised themselves with the questions, they record a video using the webcam on their PC or the camera on their smartphone.

Once uploaded, the videos can be viewed by the employer at any time and in any location.

Cost -effective

The idea of making the interview process simple and cost-effective came to Hendrick during his own job-hunting days. He spent countless hours travelling from his home to various locations around the country for interviews that frequently lasted less than half an hour.

“That didn’t make sense”, he says. “Skype and YouTube were really taking off back then and I had the idea of building a YouTube-style application for the recruitment market.”

The business now has customers around the globe and is growing at a very healthy 300 per cent year on year. The plan is to continue growth by putting more people on the ground in key markets.

“We start off marketing in new countries by attending trade shows and so on. We’ve always said that Sonru clients are evangelical so we set up a ‘Success Stories webinar series’ where users and clients talk about their experiences. These have been hugely popular and we often have more than 500 prospects sitting in to learn more about our product.

“Clients such as the UK NHS, Perisher, Nestle and SAS have been kind enough to lead our webinars, but to succeed in a new market, you’ve got to put people on the ground.”