About Company

  • Founded 1864
  • Owns more than 190 breweries in 70 countries
  • Third-largest brewer in the world
  • 85,000 employees


Heineken partnered with SHL to improve the quality and efficiency of its International Graduate Program. The solution has delivered rapid ROI and has enabled the company to establish a strong leadership pipeline.

The Challenge

Ensuring it has a strong pipeline of future leaders is a strategic priority for HEINEKEN International (HEINEKEN). With the brewer expanding beyond beer and moving into new markets, its International Graduate Program (IGP) is vital for attracting the talent that will lead the company to greater success in an increasingly competitive and global industry.

Alfonso Auñón García, IGP Manager at HEINEKEN, comments: “We were relying on our great brands to attract talent. We need future leaders who can inspire their colleagues and challenge management with new perspectives and fresh ideas.”

Places in the company’s graduate program are highly sought after. In single year the company received more than 22,000 applications within nine weeks for just 24 positions. Narrowing down this volume of applicants was proving a costly and time-consuming process for HEINEKEN.

To improve candidate quality, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, HEINEKEN recognized that it needed a better selection process that was objective and consistent and that aligned candidates to the company’s cultural values.


  • Secure a strong leadership pipeline
  • Recruit the most talented and committed graduates.
  • Minimize costs of graduate selection
  • Reduce involvement of senior management team

The Solution

HEINEKEN turned to SHL to help transform its graduate recruitment process. The company was already using our inductive reasoning assessment to shortlist the best candidates. To improve candidates’ quality and their fit to the organization, we advised the IGP team to start using a broader range of objective assessments.

These included our Talent Assessment ability and personality tests and our motivation questionnaires, which were then linked to HEINEKEN’s leadership competencies.

HEINEKEN put its new approach to the test when its annual graduate recruitment process. Eighteen thousand applicants were reduced to 120 through a combination of screening, online ability tests, and telephone interviews.

The successful candidates were then invited to attend in-depth, face-to-face interviews, facilitated by a detailed HEINEKEN Leadership Competencies report based on the personality and motivation results.

Thirty applicants attended the intensive final assessment center, which involved simulation exercises, and 13 were offered graduate placements. “We only needed three face-to-face assessment days compared with four the previous year. We also increased the quality of hire and enhanced the candidate experience,” comments Auñón.

The SHL solution integrates with HEINEKEN’s existing Lumesse talent management system to automatically invite applicants to take the online test and then collate their responses. HEINEKEN also hopes to be able to use the assessment results to aid individuals’ development during the graduate program.

The Result

The SHL solution significantly increased the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the candidate assessment phase: Sixty percent less senior management time was needed (19 senior managers’ days, down from 48 the previous year), resulting in a calculated ROI of 175 percent1 per year. Auñón comments: “Thanks to the new approach, we have improved the quality of the candidates entering the final assessment. We achieved a 43 percent success rate for candidates passing this final selection phase, up from 35 percent the previous year.”

With a consistent approach for assessments, it is much easier to evaluate candidates fairly based on the same leadership values. “This year the satisfaction levels were greatly improved. Internal stakeholder satisfaction was 85 percent, and applicant satisfaction was 91 percent,” adds Auñón.

As a result, HEINEKEN can be confident in the caliber of its new graduate recruits for its global leadership roles. SHL has helped the company recruit the best graduates and establish a strong leadership pipeline to take its business forward as a strong global player.

Following the success of the program, and as part of a HEINEKEN initiative to develop recruitment standards globally, the firm is looking at how it can extend the use of SHL Talent Assessments in its operating companies around the world.

“We are really excited about the future. Our ambition is to work even closer with SHL, making its services an integral part of the HEINEKEN global recruitment agenda,” concludes Auñón.





  • ROI of 175 percent per year
  • Saved 29 days of senior management time
  • Ninety-one percent applicant satisfaction rate
  • Improved quality and consistency of graduate recruits
  • Increased efficiency of selection process
  • Stronger pipeline of potential business leaders

1 Based on a calculation of (1) the investment related to implementing the SHL solution, consisting of assessment usage and solution design, and (2) an estimation of the cost reduction from 29 fewer senior management days and one fewer assessment day (venue costs) for 18 fewer participants (travel and accommodation).

The realized cost reduction (comparing calculated per hired participant).

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