What do you need to look for to hire better creatives?

Every team wants to hire the best people but what do you look for? How do you get better at it? What should you avoid? This episode walks you through some of the questions I’ve learned to ask, some of the things I’ve learned to look for and some of the tests I’ve developed to find the best people.

Listen now:

Show Notes:

What to avoid

– Easy-to-practice questions: Get them off the script
– Historical questions: They can allow a good storyteller to passionately describe how a problem was solved even though they only played a minor role in the solution

Interview questions

Can they solve a problem in real time?
– It’s like interviewing a chef and not asking him to cook you something
– Do this two ways – On their own and with the team
– 2 cards exercise for on their own
– Team exercise can vary depending on the role
– Ask about their thinking and process afterward

Can they learn and adapt?
– Teams and the challenges they face constantly change
– Team members have to be aware of this and able to adapt
– Too many people get stuck in their ways
– Ask things like “Steps you’d take to continuously learn and maintain your expert status in one important technical area.” or “Steps you’d take to adapt when a dramatic unexpected change occurs in either technology or customer expectations.”

Are they looking forward?
– Teams change, technology changes, culture changes, everything changes
– I need people who are looking down the road
– Ask them to outline the elements of their plan of action for their first 3–6 months.
– Key components, including goals, who they’ll consult with (by title), what data they’ll analyze, how they’ll communicate with their team, the metrics for assessing their plan’s success, etc.
– Ask them to forecast at least five ways that their job will likely evolve over the next three years as a result of changes in the business environment.

How determined are they?
– I want determination and ownership
– Look for a time the candidate wanted something so badly, they were unstoppable in pursuing it. Or a time they overcame an obstacle.
– Try to get a sense of how long that person can stick it out. How long are they going to beat their head against a problem

Can they create impact?
– You need team members who can create an impact at every level
– Do they understand the potential power of their role?
– Have your candidate tell you about a time they had a measurable impact on a job or an organization

Can they work on a team?
– Chemistry counts. You have to understand your team’s chemistry to know and understand what they need
– I’ve passed on talented people because they would not have been a good fit for the team
– Do they use the word ‘I’ or ‘We’?
– Can they tell you something personal about three of their old team mates?
– When working on a team, what’s hardest for you? What about a time you worked on a difficult team? What makes you happiest and most effective when working with others?

Leave time for selling
– The bulk of the interview time should be allocated to assessing the candidate but set aside time to excite and sell candidates on the job and your firm.

Mentioned in this episode


Design Hangout & InVision AMA

A discussion of the power of form factor storytelling & Design Thinking.



SY Partners Creative Superpowers

Your superpower is the role that you are put on this Earth to contribute. It’s what you do better than anyone else on the team. Tapping into it more often will not only help your team, but you’ll find your work more satisfying, too. Superpowers is a tool to help you and your team learn about your individual superpowers, and how to use them to be at your best.


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