Five Tips on Identifying and Hiring Creative Thinkers

Hiring creatives is not an easy job. There is no shortage of talented graphic designers, illustrators, video makers, writers, you name it. But, how do you know who the real creative thinkers are? And where can you find the most appropriate creative candidates to join your team? If you are not in the industry, or you are not an artistic person yourself, identifying these individuals can be particularly difficult and expensive for your company. However, following some simple steps can help to make the process much smoother and more successful.

First of all, when looking for creative people for your business, it is essential to understand the characteristics of creative personalities. According to an article published in Psychology Today, “they contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual,’ each of them is a ‘multitude.’” Creative people are often energetic but quiet, smart yet naïve, playful yet responsible, alternate between fantasy and reality, they are both extroverted and introverted, humble and proud, rebellious and conservative, passionate about their work yet extremely objective about it.

After understanding the character of authentically creative people and knowing exactly what to look for, there are some tactics that hiring managers can follow. The best way to get to know any candidate is in a well-planned and thought through interview. Here are five tips with specific interview questions to help identify talented creative thinkers:

  1. Dig into their portfolio

A designer’s work collection is critical to making an excellent first impression. But how can you recognize the best portfolios? The greatest portfolios prioritize quality over quantity. A precise selection of diverse work is a hundred times better than a never-ending portfolio that does not highlight the designer’s top skills. The best creatives will have both digital and physical portfolios. But do not assume that a candidate is creative, just because their portfolio or CV is!

During the interview, ask them to select one of their projects and describe to you the creative process they followed, the goals of that specific project and the thought process behind the solution. The answer to this question will give you essential information about what the designer thinks are the most important steps in the process (e.g. idea generation, research, brainstorming ideas, interviews, development work, prototyping, testing, redesign, etc).

  1. Uncover their real personality

The best designers for your company will not only have the professional capabilities to deliver good work, but also interpersonal and communication skills. They will need to be able to work with other designers, internal teams and clients, so it will be crucial to find someone who fits in well with the company culture. In this sense, you should bear in mind that top creatives may value their time more than exorbitant amounts of money. If you are looking to create a company culture that attracts talented creative people, you may want to communicate flexibility and transparency and let creative thinkers be the ones who chose to work with you.

To identify if a candidate is the right fit, you can ask them when the last time they received negative feedback was and how they dealt with the criticism. You want to make sure you are hiring someone who can solve problems, not create them. Mature creatives can accept and incorporate constructive feedback.

  1. Break down their personal identity

Generally speaking, creative people tend to take care of their personal brand. Their image more often than not transmits creativity and strong personality. The ‘wow factor’ is handy to make a good first impression, but standing out from the crowd is not enough in such a competitive marketplace.

Our personal identity is related to our values and our strengths. Although it may seem challenging to detect the authenticity of somebody’s personal brand, these questions will help out: What do you do better than anyone else? If you were to receive an award, what would it be for?

  1. Up-to-date with the design trends

Top designers are in love with their profession. What is more, designing is not just their career. In most cases, it takes an indispensable role in their personal lives too.

A good approach to find out if you are in front of the best creative person for your company is to ask these simple questions: What are you currently reading? Who inspires you and why? What is your favourite brand and why? The answer to these questions will give you some hints about their influences and whether or not they keep up with current design trends.

  1. The interview setup can make a difference

Putting interviewees at ease in a more relaxed atmosphere may help you get more out of the interview. Take them out for lunch, dinner, or a drink, to set a more casual tone, so their creative juices flow.

A good question you can ask at the end of an informal meeting is where they want to be in 5 years time. The answer to this question will help you foresee if the candidate will have room to grow within your company and if the expectations for both parties will be met.

A face-to-face interview is still the best way to unearth new talent. Use the interview to ask the right questions and reveal the hidden gems that a PDF portfolio cannot quite do justice. When trying to find top creatives, look for people who are not only ‘thinking outside the box’, but who are creating ‘new boxes’, or structures to organize their ideas and developing paths to grow lateral thinking.

Other resources on  the topic:

Lading creative teams
The personality of creative people
10 design portfolio tips that shouldn’t be ignored

Photo Credit: kjonespr Flickr via Compfight cc