How to hire creative candidates

In a highly competitive corporate world you need to start thinking in a more innovative way, if you want to have an edge over your competitors. If you don’t do it, someone else will do it, it’s just a matter of time! What might be considered as ‘great’ today, might become ordinary and ‘standard’ tomorrow. If that is the case, do you always know what further steps to take in order to keep your leading position?

Imagine you need to hire a person who has an outstanding creative mind. I’m thinking of someone who does ordinary things very differently, who is always in search of differentiation and knows exactly how to stand out from the crowd. The person needs to be: curious, flexible, embrace change, look at things from different perspectives, come up with fresh solutions for tricky challenges, discover new opportunities that others don’t see, take the initiative and keen on making a difference. When it comes to creative skills we need to distinguish: 1) the skill to design something very creatively in a visual way (e.g. a logo, website, corporate brochure, product etc.) and 2) the skill of being able to solve corporate problems in a creative way. How are you going to test and assess a candidate’s creative skills when it comes to “thinking outside the box?”

Here are three ideas.

Idea 1 – The creative CV.

Invite potential candidates to apply for the job with an original, creative CV. I’m not talking of the standard hardcopy CV, but something truly eye-catching. No limits should therefore be given with regard to the CV’s format and outlook. There have been candidates who created their CV in form of a leaflet or infographic, or who printed their CV on a t-shirt or billboard, who produced an attention grabbing video, etc. If the job position is in the creative industry, it would surely give you a first impression about the candidate’s skillset. Bear in mind that this approach would be less relevant for a position in other industries, such as the Finance or other sectors.

Idea 2 – Asking competency-based interview questions.

Once candidates are being invited for an interview, ask them competency-based interview questions with regard to their creative-thinking skills. Consider the following:

  • What was the last great idea that you came up with in your last job? Please specify a bit more in detail.
  • What was the most creative project that you ever completed in a team?
  • Can you describe a situation in which you were able to think of a cost-cutting idea?
  • Do you consider yourself as an “out-of-the-box” person? Can you give me an example in which you came up with a truly creative solution to your company’s problem? How did this benefit your company?
  • How is your reaction if someone approaches you with a very unusual idea?
  • What creative thinking methods do you use in order to come up with great ideas or solutions?
  • When do you feel most creative?
  • What would we have to provide you with, in order to get the most creativity out of you?

Idea 3 – Giving some creative challenges.

Share with your candidates a problem that the company is currently facing and let them come up with an original solution. This will give them the opportunity to show to what extent they are creative problem solvers. You could tackle this task in different ways: 1) You tell them the problem in advance and they can prepare for it in their own time at home. Once they turn up to the interview, they can present you their solution. 2) You tell them the problem during the interview only. You wait and see how quickly they can think on their own feet in a creative way. 3) You invite them to a group assessment in which they need to come up with a great solution as a team. The disadvantage of this approach would obviously be that it would be more difficult to assess an individual’s contribution. However, at the same time it allows you to test peoples’ team working skills. 4) You give them two unrelated things and see with what new things they are able to come up with.

Candidates should be challenged in multiple ways, not just with one single task. The result of one task might not truly reflect the real potential of a candidate. It would be a more insightful and revealing experience for the Recruiter if candidates would be exposed to various scenarios. The candidate who is able to impress in all given challenges should be the real winner for the job. This would make the hiring decision for the recruiter so much easier.

One more time, nowadays it is not sufficient for a company to just have people doing their jobs as expected. It takes creativity and innovation in order to become a true leader in any particular industry. The benefit of hiring creative people is that they will help the company to reach newer heights and improve the organisation’s bottom line dramatically, if opportunities are being provided to think outside the box. 

Karin Schroeck-Singh
Karin Schroeck-Singh is a passionate Public Speaker, eBook Author, and a freelancing Online Content Producer. She has an MBA from the University of Leicester (UK) and gained 18 years of international work experience in Italy, the UK and India.