Hiring great graphic designers
When having your own business it can be a little bit intimidating sometimes. Running the company and keeping your staff happy can be an endless task and can be very tiring and stressful. Something that can be a bit more worrying is hiring staff, more importantly, a graphic designer, especially when you’re not familiar with the design industry. Finding the best possible candidate isn’t simply a question of talent, you’ll likely hear from several applicants who have the design skills to deliver solid results. Focus on finding a candidate who is easy to work with, that can find creative solutions to design problems and shows that they are committed to your project’s success.
Here are ten additional tips to help you choose the best graphic design candidate:
TIP #1: BE CLEAR WITH YOUR GOALS & EXPECTATIONS
Any successful project starts by providing enough background information to the talent you’re trying to attract. Be sure your brief goes into detail about your company, the objectives of the project, and the specific qualifications you’re looking for. Sharing deadlines and any potential obstacles up front in a graphic design job description ensure that candidates will have a good understanding of the project.
TIP #2: KNOW WHAT TYPES OF SKILLS TO LOOK FOR
It’s extremely helpful to have a basic understanding of the design world and what types of skills are necessary before you start interviewing candidates. For example, will your campaign use stock images, or will the candidate take photographs to incorporate into the project? Will most of the artwork be created in Adobe Illustrator or Visual Studio?
By doing this you can also see if the candidate knows the programs? As much as you need a candidate to be a team player and have a creative mindset there is no point in hiring somebody that will be confused when working with the task at hand when the program isn’t giving the right tools because he/she is in the wrong type of program. To make it easier for you to understand, it is like hiring a waiter at a coffee shop that will stir the hot drinks with a fork.
TIP #3: SEE HOW CANDIDATES THINK ON THEIR FEET
Another tactic for narrowing down graphic design candidates is to ask something unexpected during the interview process. For instance, you could ask candidates to critique a competitor’s design piece and explain what they would have done differently. The answer itself will provide insight on the candidate’s abilities, and the way they deliver the answer will help you better understand their creative process. The goal here is to see how well each applicant handles the unknown.
TIP #4: DON’T RELY ON PORTFOLIOS ALONE
Choosing graphic designers based on their portfolios alone isn’t the best strategy, especially when it comes to top-level agency work. Instead, ask potential candidates about the designs in their portfolio and what inspired them to make those particular choices. That way you have a better understanding of how the designer works creatively, plus how you can complement their inspiration if you decide to work together.
There have been situations with junior graphic designers that just finished studying that have portfolios with their work in, but sometimes the work was done with a facilitator or sometimes it isn’t even their own work at all.
TIP #5: CONSIDER A TRIAL PROJECT TO START
A great way to narrow your field of graphic design candidates quickly is to offer a small sample project that would only require a few hours to complete. You give them a simple design brief so that they can understand how the design process works before a project begins. This could be anything from designing a simple logo, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a difficult task as long as it showcases each applicant’s talent.
TIP #6: REQUEST An INTERVIEW from the candidate
It can be hard to get a sense of someone when you can’t see their expressions or read their body language in person. Rather than interviewing candidates on the phone, it’s a good idea to conduct interviews in person. You’ll get a better sense of the candidate and they can share sketches and stories about previous experience in a more creative way. Since assignments usually involve sharing concepts in this manner anyway, an interview is a great way to get a preview of what it might be like to work with each candidate.
TIP #7: ASK WHAT WILL BE REQUIRED FROM YOU
It’s always a good idea to ask designers what they will require from your company in order to achieve the best possible results. This could apply to physical items like documentation and artwork, and also time-related tasks like proofing concepts, discussing design choices, and giving feedback. The more you can understand the designer’s process up front, the smoother the overall project will go.
TIP #8: EXPLAIN YOUR BRAND & TARGET AUDIENCE CLEARLY
While you know exactly what your company does on a daily basis and what differentiates it from others, it’s easy to forget that your applicants aren’t as clued-up in it as you are. This is a problem since it’s almost impossible for a designer to design anything if they don’t have a clear understanding of your business, your brand and the target audience you’re trying to connect to. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure that your final candidates have a firm grasp on your company’s brand and how it relates to consumers. A good tactic is to tell the candidate to ask some questions about the company or they must send an email in with all their questions. This will also show you if they are interested in your company and that they have done their research.
TIP #9: LOOK FOR RELEVANT INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE
It always helps if graphic design candidates have experience within the industry, even if it’s as a consumer. Having this knowledge could eliminate much of the learning curve required to get up to speed on your business and make your project a success. It also ensures that the designer will have a good idea of how to connect with your ideal customers.
TIP #10: TALK ABOUT THE DESIGNER’S INSPIRATIONS
Finally, be sure to take the time to understand what motivates each designer you interview. By getting an idea of the different brands, websites, books, and artists that they draw inspiration from, it will give you a much better sense of their style. This conversation may also help you discover additional ideas or unique design elements for your project.
The biggest thing to remember when hiring a graphic designer is that you’re looking for more than just a specific skill set. The designer’s overall creativity and work style are just as important as their skills, if not more so. These aren’t things you’ll find on a resume and they can only be discovered through conversation. So the more hands-on you can be during the interview process, the better the final deliverable—and working relationship—is sure to be.