Ask the Coach: How Do I Hire the Right Creative?

Michael O. "Coop" CooperAsk the Coach, Coaching, Leadership, StrategiesLeave a Comment

This week in the Ask the Coach column, we'll focus on hiring creatives.

Sally writes, "When hiring employees for creative roles, what should you be looking for?" And, "What are the top three interview questions you should ask and what are the answers you want to hear?"

Sally, congratulations on asking two really important questions. Most people think they know how to hire good creatives, but my experience is that when they stop to ask a few questions, anyone can improve their hiring processes, no matter who you're hiring.

Interviewing Creatives: Artists or Designers?

When interviewing and hiring creatives, it's important to know which type of creative you need: artist or a designer. Many people think these two can come in the same package, but they are very different. An artist needs to invent and innovate when creating and gets bored following a methodology over and over. A designer, however, loves to follow a methodology and uses it to be creative. Knowing the difference between these two creative types can save you lots of headaches and mismatches when hiring.

Everyone has a portfolio of their work, but be sure to ask which portion of the work your prospective hire actually conceptualized and completed. So much work is done in groups and portfolios can be misleading! I've heard too often that recent hires couldn't perform the actual work they were hired to do and when investigating the root of the problem, many were using portfolio projects that were completed by a team.

Questions to Ask

When interviewing, be sure to ask these three questions to make sure you're hiring the right person:

  1. What lights you up? And what bores you? These questions will let you know if they will be excited about the type of work you are hiring them to do.
  2. How do you like to solve problems and set priorities? Which hours are your most productive and least productive? This question tells you how they think and will let you know if they will fit in with the way you work.
  3. What are you best at? What are you worst at? This question will help you understand their strengths and weaknesses and what they will naturally gravitate to and avoid.

Add these to your list of standard interview questions to improve your hiring decision. I hope these answers are helpful. But more importantly, I hope they inspire you to open up and ask more questions about who and how you should be hiring - it's one of the most important decisions you'll make.