Recruiting and hiring creative talent brings its own set of challenges. Creative professionals often have a unique way of seeing the world. Finding someone with the right skills who also fits your organization’s culture, however, can be challenging. Here are 14 interview questions to ask in order to find out if the person in front of you will make a great fit.
1. What will you miss about your current work environment and what will you not miss?
Every company has parts of its culture that fit and parts that don’t. After all, we’re all individuals with distinct interests, preferences and values. By identifying which parts of their prior roles your candidate liked and disliked, you can get a feel for whether your interviewee will mesh well with your company or if this is someone who might not gel with your current team.
2. Have you ever worked directly with clients or in customer support?
A good developer is not that hard to find. A good developer with good people skills? Sometimes that can be more difficult. Sometimes that talented graphic design artist is a little too tied to a vision and lacks the ability to mesh with other people who see things differently. Getting a feel for how a creative deals with people is a good idea for getting a handle on how that person will fit in with your organization.
3. Tell me about a time you almost missed a deadline.
How people respond under pressure says a lot more about their character than how they respond to a pat on the back. Press them for details about their feelings during that time, how they worked with team members during the crisis. Ask them how their co-workers would have described them during that process. What you want is a feel for how they’ll react when the pressure is on.
4. Tell me about a project you were proud of that got negative feedback from the client. How did you handle that feedback and what changes did you make as a result?
Good creative people have a proper sense of ownership of their creations. But making the client happy is ultimately the point of the creativity in the first place. Do they still sound defensive about their work and explain why the client was wrong? Did they use the opportunity to improve on their original? The way they respond will give you a sense of that individual’s thought process.
5. What’s the last thing you learned?
This can be especially useful in assessing the qualifications of a developer. Most good developers do enjoy the process of learning and using new skills. But what did they learn most recently? Is it something useful, or an obsolete framework that they’ll never need? The best developers are not only always learning, but learning what’s important right now.
6. What do you think of our marketing materials?
There’s probably not a creative person out there who doesn’t think they could improve on even iconic logos and marketing. Pushing for an honest answer here can tell you whether the interviewee will be able to handle delivering unpleasant news in a professional manner.
7. Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
Creative people can get tunnel vision on bringing their work together perfectly. Push them to tell you about an experience that backs up their answer. Find out where they think the line for good enough is and how far they’re willing to go to get there on time.
8. Tell me about a time you screwed up.
We all make mistakes, but it’s how we respond to those mistakes that defines us. And how we describe those mistakes well after the fact can reveal a lot about our character and our ability to grow from those mistakes. What did the interviewee learn from the experience?
9. Tell me something I don’t know about XYZ [insert creative software or programming language].
If you’re needing someone with expertise in a particular creative software or programming language or framework, you’ll want to test the depth of your interviewee’s knowledge on the subject. What do they know that they think you won’t know? Maybe you’ll even learn something in the process.
10. Describe how you use [insert important programming habit here].
What’s important to you? Naming conventions? Testing? Source control? Ask them to describe what they do in that area. Why are they doing things that particular way? Because their previous employer required it or because they’ve developed the habit themselves?
11. What industry blogs/websites do you read regularly?
Separate the amateur from the professional. Amateurs follow popular sites while professionals are looking for nuts and bolts ideas on how to get the most from their work.
12. Project time!
Interviewing a visual designer? Describe how you would approach a new design project. Developer? Show me some previous code examples. Marketing specialist? Outline a marketing campaign for this quarter. You’re not just looking at the results, but how they arrive at those results. Does the pressure get to them? Are they methodical? Are they willing to throw out a bad idea and start over?
13. The very technical question.
14. Do you have any questions for me?
A smart interviewee has learned more about your company from the questions you ask than all the articles you’ve published in the last year. Turn the tables and see what questions occur to them. You can learn a lot from the questions people ask.