Sondrel’s uses code cracking for graduate recruitment

Finding the right graduates to take into a company is a challenge for most companies. A CV can tell you a lot about what a person has done but not how they did it and, more importantly, how they approach new challenges. Many firms use psychometric tests to learn more about potential candidates but Sondrel decided to follow an example from the film The Imitation Game. In this, a very challenging crossword puzzle was set to find the best thinkers.

“Cracking a code is very similar to what we do every day when designing complex ASICs,” explained Ben Fletcher, Sondrel’s Director of Engineering. “Often, we need to find novel ways of solving complex problems, and the best solutions may be found by looking at the problem in a new light. We wanted to find people who could be creative in their thought processes so we set them a code to crack so that we could see the steps by which they got to a solution. It also needed determination as we gave no clues where to start – much like solving problems in real life as every chip design we do is different. Out of over 100 applications, only 15 attempted to solve the code – with only three fully cracking it. All three went straight to the top of the list for the video interviews. Even the wrong or incomplete answers could provide insights into the thought processes involved, some of which were highly original and creative so they too warranted consideration. We are closing for entries shortly so there is still a chance to crack the code in the brochure.”

Jonathan Procter is one of the people who cracked the code and said, “The typical recruitment process is usually boring and routine -- often without any sense that a human is involved on the other side. You do tests on a computer and only if you are very lucky do you get any feedback on how you have done – usually nothing and it felt like being ghosted. I loved the Sondrel approach as it is so different. Hidden in the Graduate brochure is a series of codes with no clues on how to solve them or even what the sequence is. It made such a change from academic work where there is so much help provided that it is almost a mechanical process to work through to a solution with no challenge to be creative.”​

Another successful code cracker, Lewis Riches, added, “Another way that Sondrel is so different in its selection process is that it is very much run by humans with lots of emails, phone and video calls. I really got to know the Sondrel people and understand the ethos of the company which is very much supportive and people-oriented. After all, job interviews are a two-way process with the company assessing you whilst you work out if you want to work for the company. Sondrel really helped with that aspect by arranging for meetings with staff from many different disciplines to really understand all aspects of what the company does. But, the most useful, was a one-to-one chat with someone who had been through the selection process last year and is now working at Sondrel.”