Crossword Puzzle based Job ad design. Was it a Out of the box idea?

Shamir Dawood
4 min readAug 14, 2022


Crossword Puzzle, Image from google

Story behind the problem

Back in 2018/2019 I was the UX/UI Lead at Cloud Solutions International. The product team was a combination of the BA team and the UX/UI team who was under a Product Manager (PM).

At the end of 2019 2nd quarter we had a goal to increase the headcount within the UX/UI team. So myself and my PM, we planned to headhunt as well to advertise on couple of recruitment platforms to hire a couple of senior UX/UI resources to expand out creative team.

The Problem

The real problem was not the headhunting processes, recruitment platform nor the job role. It was the individual talent that we were looking for.

As a product team we encountered multiple occasions where we shortlist candidates based on their CV’s but at the event where we interview them face-to-face or over a virtual call the candidates fail miserably to answer our questions.

Here is a classic example scenario of the applicant diversification where we post a job vacancy to hire a UX/UI Designer.

A chart that shows the applicant breakdown

For me as the UX/UI team lead and for the Product Manager this hiring method was a huge problem. Primarily it was a waste of time for us as well for the candidates.

We really wanted to hire the candidates who knew what they were doing. It was not the years of experience we were focusing on but the basic/ fundamental knowledge that they possessed.

Hence we wanted to get onboard the right candidates and the PM and myself we set our selves on a mission to find a solution.

How did i come up with the idea and turned it into a solution 🤔 💭

While i was brainstorming, there was one particular idea that kept me thinking. It was the all time classic Crossword Puzzle.

The goal of the game is to form words or phrases to fill up the square empty boxes with the help of given clues. By reading these clues who ever and has Knowledge, Thinking Power and a Great Memory can guess the words.

So i thought why not use this crossword puzzle to solve our hiring problem. and i figured out it was a great way of redesigning a classic job advert as well.

So i was on a mission to design a crossword puzzle with words that's related to UX/UI.

After many iterations the end result 😅

The crossword puzzle based ad design

It was so much fun designing this solution for this problem.


After the new job advert was published we received very few CV’s as the crossword puzzle was mandatory to fill-out prior to applying.

We were under couple of assumptions at the point of releasing this advert design;

// The candidates who apply for this advert would be able to solve the puzzle with the UX/UI knowledge they gain over the years.

// The candidate who apply for this advert would have good understanding, patients and determination.

// We would be able to filter out better candidates prior to initial round of interviews.

Once the advert was launched though we didn't get as much anticipated results, we were able to analyze the results for a standard job vacancy post and with the crossword puzzle vacancy post.

there was a clear drop in applicant’s/CV’s received but we were fine with it.


Companies are still using the traditional job vacancy advert designs to fill out vacancies, but little they know once the hiring process begins the interviewers tend to face many difficulties in trying to short list and hire the right candidate.

Candidates who does not understand the job role, Candidates who lack basic/fundamental job role related knowledge, Candidates who apply for the sake of finding a job are a few reasons candidates does not go though from the initial interview round.

Hence with a crossword puzzle advert design approach i tired to solve this running problem.

I was excited and pleased how the design turned out but we did not end up with applicants as much as anticipated.

Does this mean we are short of true talent or we made a simple recruitment process bit more complicated.

I will leave it to you to decide… 😊

Last but not least thank you to Shameel (PM), Yusra (UX Writer), Sandaru (Design Colleague) for the valuable feedback and support given to me throughout this task.

You can reach out to me via email [], Instagram [shamirdawood] for questions, comments and feedback. 😊

Thank you for taking time to read the article. Cheers!



Shamir Dawood

Product Designer (UX/UI Designer) | Over 10 Years of Experience in Software Design Industry