In my role as Senior Director of Creative Services, I hire for many different creative disciplines. I’ve found there are two types of creative candidates:
– Those who believe they are “the greatest” and “the best”
– Those I can tell like interaction and collaboration.
I’ve never been drawn to the first type, as they are not always open to feedback. While, they might have individual strengths, that’s not conducive to a strong, collaborative creative group.
I always stress to my team that we don’t work in silos but as part of a cohesive unit that crosses paths with many other creative disciplines and departments in our organization. It’s critical to me that a candidate speaks to and interacts with others in collaboratively. Then, we can we provide the culture and creative collaboration tools to help foster that behavior.
But, the requirements don’t stop at having a collaborative spirit. While a collaborative mindset is high on my wish list for a creative hire, I have eight additional key traits that I’m always looking for:
– The basics: Obviously, I like to see solid, current experience that is applicable. I’m also interested in what their breadth of experience has been—whether they’ve worked print, events, digital and/or campaign work—because what they will be working on day-to-day can be very different.
– Easily relatable: The most enjoyable interviews I’ve had with candidates is when they bring a piece of themselves to the table. I’m able to get insight into their personalities as well as their lives outside of work. It makes them relatable, and that’s huge for me.
– Cultural fit: I need to make sure the candidate is a fit from a personality standpoint. I’m thinking about what they can bring to the team. I don’t just want someone that can sit there 9- and push out the same sorts of assets. I always push my team to think about how they can improve on things.
– Flexibility: New team members should be able to move and shake with whatever is coming down the pipeline, because things can change very quickly!
– Ability to back up their decisions and direction: Being creative can be a difficult gig. Everyone has very strong opinions about design, but they don’t know what they don’t know. You have to have a thick skin to take the feedback and use it productively. You need to realize you might not be providing exactly what that person thought they wanted but it is what they need. A strong creative candidate is able to speak to why the approach they’ve taken will produce the best results. Being able to talk through creative choices adds to that collaborative environment.
– Intellectual curiosity: No one wants to see projects that are status quo. I want people who spot a trend or draw inspiration from what they’ve seen, and if possible, connect it to their work. I love that interaction. I want to ensure my employees are open minded and learn from experiences, good or bad.
– How they define success: In many areas, like sales or account management, there might be some very specific stepping stones. That’s not always true for creative. I look for candidates to come in with a well-defined idea of where they want to go. Are they looking to remain a graphic designer? Do they aspire to be an art director? Do they want my job? I welcome it all. I look for someone who is driven, has goals and will work hard to achieve them. In the end, it helps me to be able to provide those growth and development opportunities.
– Willingness to fail: One thing I’m always looking for is where they have failed. I ask candidates to walk me through that scenario, because that’s our world. It’s very rare that the first time we do any creative concept, everyone is like: “Yay, done! On to the next.” There’s always back and forth. You have to be able to troubleshoot. The best answers to problems come from a certain form of failure, because you’ve had to work through a lot of challenges.
Generally speaking, people in creative tend to look at the world in a very different way, which is extremely important to how we do our work. There are some pretty awesome and exciting ideas that come up daily, and that comes from having a team with the right balance of skillsets and collaborative skills—and then we go from there.
Are you looking to join a creative team but need tips to update your portfolio? Look at my article on common portfolio problems and how to fix them.