Talent Acquisition

How to Identify Creativity During Interviews

It is every employer’s dream to have a team that is self-driven, sets new goals and comes up with new ways to explore their challenges. They are the creative type, who value self-expression and consider fulfilment of their passion as a reward on its own. If you are one, you know what I’m talking about.

Creatives are highly sought-after and it is common to come across job postings that highlight the need for a creative approach. That’s a pretty vague term. Creativity, however, is not vague and there are certain traits that are common among all creative people.

The common traits of creatives

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, perhaps the most noted researcher on ‘creativity’, identified these common personality traits among creative individuals in different lines of work.

  • Creative individuals are energetic yet highly composed. They possess focus and are enthusiastic but also have strict downtimes for self-reflection.
  • They have a mixture of maturity and childishness to their character. The emotional immaturity plays a key part in their approach to problems.
  • They enjoy a light-hearted yet disciplined environment. No wonder they pursue careers that make them happy.
  • Creatives tend to lose themselves in fantasy that are grounded in reality. Their way of looking at life might seem bizarre but results in outcomes that people tend to relate to over time.
  • They show traits of both extroverts and introverts at the same time.
  • A sense of pride mixed with humility is characteristic of all creatives. They have a sense of their own proficiency but constantly aim for greater challenges.
  • Creative people are known to be psychologically androgynous, meaning they defy gender stereotypes.
  • They are rebels at heart but also show conservative notions. It comes from being coherent with their choices and knowing what they want.
  • They are passionate about their work yet objective about its worth. Creative individuals can reflect on the standard of their own work which help them evaluate its limitations.
    They love to explore art, culture and new interests but have a low threshold for pain. Bad quality in anything they have a taste for repulses them.

If any of the above seem true in your case, you probably are a creative type yourself. In that case, you would know a creative person in an interview. It’s not always so easy though, right?

So let’s build a list of idiosyncrasies to look out for in your candidates which will highlight them as creative individuals.

Creative is as creative does

1. Are they observant?

Creatives are a highly observant lot. It is not something they focus on. They just happen to observe everything. If you look at the works of geniuses like Hayao Miyazaki and Noam Chomsky, much of their work comes from a keen observation of society. They engage in people watching, capture nuances and can pick up on behavioural patterns.

Check if the interviewee has an eye for detail. Their ability to gather information from subtle ideas will show that they are, indeed, a creative person.

2. What hours do they prefer working?

This can be phrased as a direct question or you can lead the candidate to speak of their preferable working hours. Most creative people actually have odd working hours. Some feel productive in the wee hours of the morning while others might say they like working at night.

Whatever might be the case, creative people have a distinct choice when it comes to when they like to work. They work the hours that work best for them. If the candidate voices a preference, it would suggest they get into their creative flow during that period.

3. How aware are they when they are in flow?

Make them talk about something they feel passionate about. Creative people tend to lose track of time when engaged in activities they are genuinely invested in. But it’s important to keep time when it comes to business, right?

Of course. But when you get better output by cutting a little slack, forcing a time schedule would kill the creativity that gives your team the edge in the first place.

4. Notice their dress sense

How are they dressed for the interview? For startups that allow a casual dress code, most candidates would stick to what they feel comfortable wearing. If the candidate is a creative type, you’d notice their taste in fashion. Creative people have excellent taste and they know what works well on them.

It would be a stretch to say all fashionable people are creative. But creative people are, for the most part, great when it comes to expressing their sense of style.

5. How do they rate themselves?

Creative people tend to aim for bigger goals than others. They are always striving to achieve something more. They are their own biggest critic. So a creative individual would always see room for personal improvement.

But they also happen to know their own strengths. Which means a creative person would expect a competent pay and might quote a higher package than your other candidates.

6. Watch how they communicate

A creative might come across as eccentric at first encounter. If you pay attention, you’d see they have a personal approach to communicating ideas. This is a result of not conforming to the textbook approach and having their personal view of the world.

They have a very clear grasp of the matters that interest them and discussing those would lead them to express things the same way they approach the subject in their mind. In fact, they are very good at getting ideas across in their own way.

A candidate who shows these particular signs in their interview can be recognized as a creative type. It is important to note that hiring a creative or running a team of creatives is tough trade since they might not conform to traditional values. Often though, the outcome of their work is of far better quality just because they seek reward in improving themselves.

About the author: Augustus Franklin is the founder and CEO of CallHub, a California-based Voice and SMS service company bridging the communication gap for political campaigns and advocacy groups. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his kids or training for a marathon.

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