7 Reasons Why You Need to Test Your Creative Hires

You’re looking to fill a creative position: graphic designer, front end web developer, copywriter, video editor… so the first thing you probably want to see is the candidate’s portfolio. After all, work samples are a primary indicator of suitability for many positions, especially creative ones.

However, if you’re basing your hiring decisions solely on previous work, a resume, and an interview, you’re taking a huge risk. There are many other factors that go into determining whether a person is going to be a good fit for your company, particularly when you’re talking about creative people. They are a unique breed – so consider these tips before you hire your next one!

  • Creative people can be… well… sensitive. That’s part of the reason why they’re creative in the first place – but you have to make sure they are a match for your culture. You don’t want to hire someone and find out later that they don’t fit in with the rest of your team. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of their personality drivers. Are they agreeable when it comes to requests for edits or changes to deadlines? How much will they contribute to brainstorming and planning sessions? Do they place a high value on the quality of their work? Are they open to new ideas and the feedback of others?

  • Deadlines can be a roadblock to creativity.This doesn’t mean that creative people don’t understand the urgency of a project; it just means that creativity doesn’t happen on demand. You can’t change your standards – or your due dates – because they aren’t ready to call a project “finished.” You need to ensure that your new hire is able to: Balance tight timelines with stellar results, juggle multiple projects at once, remain flexible when priorities change and handle the stress that accompanies the position.

  • Math is important. Just because the job is “artistic” in nature doesn’t mean that math doesn’t play a key role in the day-to-day duties. Calculating the size of an image or making sure a web page loads quickly requires more than just basic math. Understanding the metrics behind website conversions and the best ratio of keywords to content is part science, part art. Knowing on what beat of the song to cut to the next video clip is more than just knowing the lyrics to the song. Software can only go so far… while many programs will spit out numbers and automate tasks, having the ability to understand their meaning and how they relate to the overall blueprint is key to a successful completed project.

  • Writing and grammar are important. This is obvious when we’re talking about a writing position, but it’s just as vital for non-writers. Errors like misspelled words and improper use of apostrophes or commas are more than just embarrassing – they can cause serious harm to a company’s image. Don’t hire anyone without making sure their writing abilities are up to snuff.

  • Seeing the big picture – and the minutiae –is critical. Can your new hire step outside their list of tasks and understand the big picture each project plays in the success of your company? Can they wrap their mind around the roles other people play in the project, and how they are all interwoven? Your creative folks are the ones that build the foundation where your company interacts with your customers. If they can only manage a task list inside their little silo, you run the risk of a fragmented result.

  • Being creative requires thinking outside the box. Is this one a no brainer? Perhaps… but if you become blinded by a fancy portfolio, you might miss the fact that the work was done under heavy supervision or created by committee. Make sure that your candidates are actually creative and not just good at following directions (they should be able to follow directions, too).

  • Creativity is at its best when workers are engaged. Engagement is that wonderful land where everything an employee does is for the betterment of the company. They work late. They come up with great ideas. They help other employees. They bring donuts. And all without you having to ask! Start by hiring motivated people, and then elevate it by getting regular employee feedback, either through surveys or reviews.

Like I said at the beginning, creative people are a special breed. But on the other hand, they’re just like everyone else. They, too, need to go through the testing process so you can get a complete understanding of their potential for success at your company. Motivation, personality, cognitive ability, math and verbal skills, writing skills… all critical to success. Of course, don’t dismiss their work samples, job references or education – but make a hiring decision based on facts – not a pretty portfolio or neat lines of code.

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