“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.” – Schopenhauer
A genuinely creative mind can propel your company forward through exceptional innovation.
We asked 10 recruiters and entrepreneurs who prize creativity in their candidates:
“What is one thing you look for when recruiting creative people?”
1) An Innovative Mind with a Collaborative Spirit
2) Productive Skepticism
3) Ability to Balance Quality with Speed
4) Creative Responses to Unpredictable Interview Questions
5) Creative Outlets
6) An Individualist
7) Team Mentality and Collaboration
8) Culture Fit
9) Proactive Action and Follow-Through
An Innovative Mind with a Collaborative Spirit
Creativity is the ability to break down and re-synthesize ideas in new ways: using imagination and novel concepts to produce something new. In an organization or business, a truly creative person must—for their own sanity and effectiveness—be given latitude to experiment, make mistakes, and engage in collaborative conflict; and to produce something meaningful, original, and useful.
In order to succeed, your creative hire must have a history of (1) asking thoughtful questions and finding original solutions to problems; and (2) consistently producing creative work individually and as part of a team (openness, conscientiousness, and the necessary extraversion). The proper way to manage a creative person is to first understand their personality and creative output in the context of their role, and then to include them in a team that complements and applies their unique skills and talents, and is favorable to their temperament.
I look for second-level thinking, which usually takes the form of a productive skepticism such as generating new questions and ideas from existing proposals. The most creative people I have known rarely get stuck because they question the way things are done, and are always looking for a better solution.
In recruiting, I look for that instinctive pushback against the status quo that’s always there, somewhere, in creative people. I think this is an essential quality because we’re in the middle of a great transformation in the way we do business and in the kind of business we do. If you can find creative people that couple their criticisms with viable alternatives, you have yourself a great combination.
Ability to Balance Quality with Speed
Creative people are often great at what they do. They can produce amazing results that capture the interest of customers and audiences of all types. The challenge is that the creative process is very subjective. It may include a lot of thinking and ideation instead of execution. For this reason, I look for creative people who can also stick to deadlines.
Sometimes, it’s hard for a creative person to accept that “done” is better than “perfect”. They want their work to be the best reflection of their ideas, and I understand that. I also know that perfection never actually materializes. So, while quality is extremely important, it needs to be balanced with on-time delivery. A creative person that can balance quality and speed is a keeper.
Creative Responses to Unpredictable Interview Questions
Speed and ideas: these are two qualities I look for when recruiting creative people. Creative people are often the most efficient because they can think on their feet and come up with new solutions. To test this idea and find the best fit, I ask random questions to my interviewees like “What would you write if you had a blank paper?” or even simpler ones, such as how quickly they complete their work—these types of open-ended inquiries force individuals to honestly explore themselves.
These questions give me an idea for how a candidate’s brain works and how I can leverage hiring “idea” people for our company’s benefit. For me, people who have great ideas and know how to execute them are great improvisers. The ability to think quickly and come up with multiple, quality solutions is critical, especially given today’s speed of work.
Creative people are always being creative regardless of whether it’s work-related or not. When interviewing for a creative position, I like to ask the candidates what their hobbies are outside of work. The most creative people always have outlets, whether it’s making music, YouTube videos, artwork, or creatively writing.
When people demonstrate that they’re creative off the clock, those ideas can flow into work projects or spark an idea that benefits the company. One creative idea might not mesh with their personal hobby, but it may be great for a company project and vice versa.
I’m looking for people who can find the targets themselves, not those who have to get them from higher-level managers. Working with such individuals can sometimes be difficult, and they often don’t stay with the company for long. However, the contribution they make to the business, even in the short term, makes up for the fact that they’re free-spirited individuals.
To determine if a candidate is creative, one of the questions I ask during an interview is for them to name three people—living or dead—with whom they’d like to have lunch. When I hear Socrates or Isambard Kingdom Brunel in reply, I know that I’m not only dealing with a well-read person, but also with a free-thinking individual.
Team Mentality and Collaboration
When looking for creative people, willingness and ability to work with others is one of the qualities I seek. Creativity is generally a collaborative process. A worker with good ideas may fail or fail to meet their true creative potential if unwilling to work with others. Some of the most innovative and artistic endeavors come from group efforts, and teammates can piggyback off of interesting ideas and build something truly special. Teamwork is an important part of the creative process, especially in corporate environments when coworkers collaborate and depend on each other.
Whenever I’m recruiting, I look for qualities that will make, not break, my organization and culture fit is essential in this issue. Do they “click” with the rest of the staff? That is a question I put into consideration when I make my decision to recruit creative candidates. Poor culture fit usually ends up costing an organization approximately half of a candidate’s annual salary. It’s proven that employees who fit well within their organization tend to stay longer and have superior job performance than those who are a weak fit. A referral program is valuable for identifying prospective candidates with a strong culture fit.
Proactive Action and Follow-Through
What separates a good idea from a great one? It’s the follow-through. Creative people tend to have a lot of ideas popping through their minds, but can they execute? When I am interviewing a creative candidate, I’m looking for a demonstration of their creative abilities as well as their commitment to seeing their ideas through to fruition.
Show me your portfolio, tell me about your past creative achievements, and give me examples of how you have been able to bring your ideas to life. This will show me that you’re ready to work hard and that you’re passionate about creativity. I am looking for an all-around talented creative candidate who’s ready to work with me to create something amazing.
The best ideas come from knowledge, experience, and a desire to explore the world. That’s why one critical skill to look for when hiring creative people is curiosity. This trait exhibits as asking bold questions, exploring new possibilities, swimming against the tide, and testing new opportunities. These qualities are essential in creative positions, which should constantly evolve to avoid getting stuck in the same old way of doing things.
The spirit of curiosity makes a person continuously seek inspiration and easily find them in the surrounding world. This translates into ideas and innovations implemented at work, giving created content a new face. Such a member is indispensable within a creative team.
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