10 Tips on Hiring for Creativity

Creativity is the root of innovation. But how can you find the right kind of inspired individual to bring into your office? Some of the country's best creative directors, and HR pros for their tips on hiring the most creative individuals.

Every company wants innovation in one form or another, and innovation comes from creativity. But where does creativity come from? Creatives are often a different breed: less worried about profit, less tied into the world of MBAs and bottom lines, and more adept at populating clouds of big ideas and grandiose designs. And the best advice for hiring for creativity.

1. Look for people rooted in strategy. "It's not only what you're doing it but the strategy behind it as well, how you tell the message. It's an idea that ideally lives across any single thing the brand is trying to do. A lot of it is the energy that comes from someone. When they start talking about an idea, when somebody's really got that creative juice, it's almost like they can't help themselves from being flooded with ideas. They can't help themselves but to be excited and passionate about it."

2. Give homework. "When we're talking about creative people, there's no substitution for actually seeing the work and witnessing the way someone manages a project and makes decisions. The best kind of homework is a scenario that asks a candidate to solve an open-ended problem. It puts technical skills, critical thinking and aptitude for communication on display. When you're hiring for creativity, ideas are great, but scan for initiative. How does a candidate contextualize creative ideas? How do ideas impact the business? Does he or she show a track record of execution? That should be the No. 1 barometer."

3. Treat the hiring differently. "Don't hire this person based on how you hire someone for profit. Look outside your own box and make sure he or she is passionate, honest, and in touch on a personal level with your industry and the world of style, art and fashion. Any company hiring a top-level creative executive must first and foremost have complete trust in that person's vision. The key to any "cool" successful brand is authenticity, which comes from hiring someone who clearly knows the market they are targeting and has the experience and unique ability to activate demand by understanding the ethos of this market. There should be truth in whatever it is they present and that truth should be executed in a creative and innovative context.  Whether it's a product or service, hire someone who knows how to evoke an emotional response in the right people--much like the way a comedian makes an audience laugh."

4. Craft an amazing job listing. "We write in all of our job descriptions to write a custom cover letter and address it to me or the hiring manager. If people don't have enough attention to read through the job description, they've already self-selected themselves not to be part of our organization. Our culture kind of shines through in our descriptions. Many people who read that might not be attracted to work here from the start. We like to do a social interview: dinner, lunch, breakfast or a drink. It's an open room [in the office]. Their first interaction with us is important to note. If someone is massively emailing their resume out without learning about us, that person who did not take the extra effort may not be the right candidate for this organization. There's no requirement in terms of education but we usually write on there: college degree or really freaking cool dropout story."

To be continued

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