IT Recruitment's easy, right?We do our own hiring here at Intuitive. It's a process that's been revised and refined over time and we're pretty happy with our results! When we put together a job ad, we include a "non-standard" set of questions at the end of the application. Here it is:

How To Apply (IMPORTANT - not just the standard process!)
Your attention to detail and your genuine desire to assist customers in solving their IT issues is key to success in this role. So if you've read this part of our job ad, we know that you are at least reading the fine print! And to show that you have read this detail, and for your application to be considered, we ask that you include in your cover letter responses to the following questions (if you do not, your application will NOT be considered):

  1. In a world where all jobs paid the same, and you need to work to support yourself, describe your ideal job.
  2. What are you passionate about? What do you love to do in your spare time?

Adding these questions gives us a little more insight to the person applying for the job. We really want that insight for a few reasons:

  1. It helps us filter out candidates quicker
  2. It lets the person show some of their personality in their cover letter - letting their character shine through early in the piece.

Last year, while recruiting an IT Application Support position for our office in Melbourne, I had this email sent to me from a possible candidate.

In a world where all jobs paid the same,....
What are you passionate about? What do you love to do in your spare time ?

Why do you need to know all this things? Programming is a performance based job.
If someone cannot perform/code, you will not keep him - right? So, why are you asking all those irreverent questions?

not just the standard process! -- why not? Are you Google?

I wanted to share my reply because I think it adds a lot of context to who we are and the people we are trying to attract to our business.

Hi redacted,

Interesting, I haven't had anyone question me on that before.

The questions are there for a few reasons:

  1. It's a test of someone's attention to detail - and that is very important in a programming role. If people fail to answer the questions, then their attention to detail isn't good enough for me
  2. It's a filter for auto-application software - people use services to automatically send their standard resume and cover letter to any position that meets certain criteria. I want the person to read the ad and want to work with us
  3. You have to be able to demonstrate you have great written communication. You have to be able to express yourself clearly in this job as you will interact with clients and colleagues and explain difficult concepts. Answering these questions gives me an insight into that.
  4. So many resumes and cover letters are so dull now because they get processed through career counsellors and all the personality is stripped out. These questions give the person behind the application a chance to show themselves. 
  5. I want to know more about the person behind the application. Asking what they are passionate about gives me that opportunity.
  6. And finally this job is more than just writing code - you have to work in a team so I want to know you can engage with others. Culture is very important to us here. I want to make sure you not only can you code, but can be a valuable team member and contribute to our culture.

And we're not Google, but we don't need to be. We are a small team of dedicated techs that work hard, support each other and have fun while solving problems. I just want more interesting people to join the team, and these questions help me achieve that.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

So what kind of answers have peaked my interest in the past? Here are a few which at least got a phone call

In your job listing, you request the answer to two questions, I’ve sat and ruminated on them for a while.The first question is a great one, it has really got me thinking about what I value from the jobs I do. First and foremost I think the ideal job for me would be one that gives me the opportunity to help people, to support them in their endeavours. A job where I can learn new things, and use those new experiences to help others. It would of course be a job involving technology, learning new things alongside the evolution of computers and technology has always been something of great interest to me

As for my passions, and what I get up to in my spare time. Drawing and digital painting has always a big passion of mine over the years (Love the picture of the wall-art on your Facebook page by the way).When people ask about my hobbies, that usually tends to be my go-to. More recently that has evolved into games design and app development, I’ve worked on a few small projects here and there in my spare time. I also dabble a little in graphic design. All of this has given me a bunch of experience in a wide range of software from Excel to InDesign.

Here's another:

My ideal job, and would be to design, build and program robots of some kind (most likely in the aerospace field). I love programming (particularly object oriented), and when I have a project, I tend to spend most, if not all, of my free time working on it. I have recently started learning C#, and have particularly enjoyed coding with it. Even when I’m tearing my hair out trying to find some obscure,weird bug, I’m still loving what I’m doing.

In addition to that, I get a great satisfaction from programming a machine to do something physical, whether it be programming a LED to flash, or something as complex as a remote control vehicle. The idea that the abstract code I’m writing on my computer screen can translate to something happening in the real world is fascinating to me. Currently my semester break project is to build a remote control helicopter (with autopilot) using off the shelf parts, powered by an Arduino, and programmed entirely by myself.

And another:

1. In a world where all jobs are paid the same, and I have all required qualifications, I would most definitely say my ideal job would be Software Developer as I am really passionate about technology
and coding. I really enjoy the challenge of solving a tricky problem through code and trying to think outside the box. I enjoy technology when it is used to simplify the user’s needs.
2. Again, I am passionate about technology and I spend a lot of my spare time learning and tinkering with different technologies, tools, software and hardware. I like working on side projects writing code. I wrote and published a news reader app to the Google Play store. My latest project was to use a Raspberry Pi, motors and some Python script magic to automate the roller blinds in my room. I also enjoy photography as a hobby.

And one more:

I am totally able to learn and understand the requirements and transform them in high quality software, and I can easily learn new languages and technologies. During my time in Melbourne, I have been focusing on Android development, having done some personal applications that I would be happy to show if you are interested.

What am I passionate about? Firstly, if I could choose any job and if I were qualified to do it, I would be a Professional Table Tennis player. I am able to spend hours and hours playing it. Well, secondly, I do love code! You can easily check this by looking my personal repository on GitHub or GitLab. My ideal job would be one that I could help other people.

More and more we seem to find that applications follow the same formula and we are seeing less and less about the person behind the application. Ours is a small shift back in the other direction.