So what do multinationals look for when hiring new recruits?

Landing a job with a multinational can be the passport to a high-flying international career

Rowan Lyons joined US-owned technology company Xilinx last November as a senior engineering manager. Xilinx is his first experience of a large multinational. Prior to this he spent 17 years working for Irish-owned SMEs.

“I think there are more similarities than differences in the hiring process [between indigenous companies and multinationals],” he says. “Ten years ago, hiring was all about getting really clever people and the rest would take care of itself. Now the process is much more nuanced, especially when it comes to how someone is going to fit in.

“The clever bit is pretty much taken for granted and what matters is that difficult to measure piece around how well suited the person is to the team as well as to the job. What you’re trying to avoid is having someone who is very talented but is constantly pulling in the wrong direction.”

Xilinx has been in Ireland since 1995 and employs 350 people at its facility in Citywest. Libby Gribben is head of HR for the company here.


“Fit is definitely very important, as is the ability to collaborate,” she says. “Another key attribute we look for is flexibility because the pace of change is so fast. We need people who can adapt and are forward thinking.”

Xilinx’s selection process is based around six foundational competencies and it does not use psychometric testing. The competencies include effective communication, teamwork, external focus and ownership and accountability.

“In practical terms, competence means being able to demonstrate a skill,” Gribben says. “Under teamwork we want people to show us concrete examples of how they collaborated with others. As they are likely to be working with different nationalities and in global teams, we also rate effective communication skills very highly.

Work experience

“If someone can show work experience in the US with a tech company, for example, that tells us they are mobile, they have worked as part of a team and are familiar with how US companies operate.

“We also need people to demonstrate an awareness of what’s going on both in the IT sector and the general business environment. They need to show familiarity with what we do, our competitors, the economy and what’s happening in the world that might affect our business.”

Google gets over two million job applications worldwide a year and its hiring emphasis is on getting the right fit. The company does not use any form of psychological testing, but those applying for technical posts may be given a task to complete.

"We are looking for people who are going to have a long and successful career with the company," says Jane Weighton, head of staffing programmes for EMEA at Google. "The working environment here is rapidly changing. As we grow and continue to invest in new technologies and regions, we need adaptable candidates who meet our core criteria.

Four criteria

“We assess all candidates on the same four criteria – leadership, right fit for the company and the role, role-related knowledge and problem-solving ability. How we look at how someone meets the criteria will vary according to the role. With a university graduate, for example, it might be more about assessing their passion for the online industry.

“Our recruitment process comprises a first conversation with a recruiter, a telephone interview of up to 45 minutes and three or four on-site interviews with their prospective team. We hire by consensus. No one person has the overall say.”

Weighton advises anyone interested in working for Google to log on to its job portal where there is a lot of information, including YouTube videos on preparing for an interview.

Medical device group Boston Scientific employs more than 3,000 at its facility in Galway. It HR director is Elaine Boyd. She says the ability to thrive in a fast-paced multi-matrix environment is crucial.

“We are a high performance-oriented company and the speed at which we work is not for everyone. We tend to hire based on attitude and cultural fit assuming the person already has the functional competency required.


“We have a number of competencies and behaviours we look for depending on the role. For a managerial position, this would include how someone shows respect for the people they manage, how they engage and communicate and how they make decisions that affect other people.”

Boyd says the company is primarily looking for well-rounded people with relevant experience and the expertise to do the job. Also important is a willingness to get involved in the company’s other activities such as its active CSR programmes.

Boston believes in promoting from within and aims to fill 70 per cent of roles in-house. “In a company of our size, there are many opportunities to broaden your knowledge and work towards a more senior position. One of our most recently appointed global VPs started here as a technician,” Boyd says.

What multinationals look for when hiring?

– A good fit with the organisation’s culture.

– Flexibility, adaptability, forward thinking.

– Good problem-solving abilities.

– Good communication skills.

– Ability to work in a team.

– Knowledge of the company and its products/services.

– Awareness of the wider business environment.