It made me cast my mind back to my graduate recruiting days. When I was a recruiter I personally loved finding candidates that showed an interest outside of work, but really all that it offered was undeniable proof that this person has a ‘true’ passion or genuine interest for their discipline. Infact I find the same at dinner parties, I love meeting anyone that has that kind of passion whether that be for coding, guitar or otherwise.
As a recruiter finding that evidence basically made my job easier and recruiters are specialists at looking for the quick/easy win.
I think it comes back to the phrase that actions speak louder than words.
A great example of this can be seen when working with graduates. There are obviously hundreds that come out of university looking for tech jobs each year. I would say as much as 95% of conversations would go something like this:
ME – “What sort of job do you want?”
GRAD – “I want to be a developer”
ME – “That’s great, would you say you’re passionate about it?”
GRAD – “Yes absolutely I love writing code and really want to learn more about it”
ME – “Superb news, so what have you learned since you finished university? Do you do anything with any open source projects?”
GRAD – “….no not really”
ME – “Ok have you taught yourself any technologies since you graduated?”
GRAD – “No I want to get a job so I can learn some”
ME – “Do you have any way to show me that you are genuinely passionate about this?”
GRAD – “I got a 2:1 – is that enough?”
I would often then test them and the conversation would continue like this:
ME – “We actually have some support roles would you look at them too?”
GRAD – “Yes! I love support work”
I got to learn through experience that 9 times out of 10 this type of graduate would fail the interview. In the end I stopped working with most grads that had no evidence to back up their passion. (Though I did start the Graduate Developer Community to help try and get grads find their passion).
I would say perhaps 5% of grads we would speak to would ever be able to demonstrate that clear passion for development… and they were the ones that would often get offers for every job they applied for. They’d know what language they loved, they’d have downloaded the source code and have a few projects on the go and as a result were often a cut above the rest. It was a pleasure working with them and helping them find their dream jobs.
I know it’s not entirely the same as senior developers, but there are definite parallels. I would say it is still only 10-20% of the industry that truly have the passion for development that many employers love. I speak to many developers that I know are 100% passionate about it but prefer to leave it at work… nothing wrong with that at all, but it does lead to the problem that there is then no ‘evidence’, no ‘actions’ to back up their words. It doesn’t make the developer bad in any way – it just means the interviewer has to work a bit harder to find that passion, or the interviewee has to work a bit harder to demonstrate it.
My advice to everyone that is considering getting a new job and wants to succeed in every interview is to make the decision as easy as possible for the interviewer or recruiter.