How to hire creatives when you're a business person

Job candidates may express one, multiple or all of these types of creativity - but the important thing to remember is that everyone has the capacity for creativity.

It's a familiar refrain: "We need to hire more creative thinkers!" Whether you're looking for writers, designers or coders, you're probably looking for someone with drive and passion - someone who can produce an original product or concept.

To a business-minded person, this might seem like a challenge. Because humans like to categorize, we tend to compartmentalize people into groups. Over here, the hard-working, physical blue collar workers, over there the numbers-oriented executives, and in the middle a scruffy bunch of artists and other "creatives."

In reality, each individual lands somewhere on a spectrum of creativity. The accountant who organizes the books into actionable insights is just as creative as the designer who streamlines website UI. The skills may be different, but each takes creative energy.

Types of creativity

The productivity organization Lateral Action defines eight different types of creativity. They are, briefly:

  • The social creative: Collaborators.
  • The musical creative: Musicians.
  • The spatial creative: Visual designers.
  • The kinesthetic creative: Athletes.
  • The logical creative: Mathematicians.
  • The intrapersonal creative: Philosophers.
  • The naturalistic creative: Scientists.
  • The linguistic creative: Writers.

Job candidates may express one, multiple or all of these types of creativity - but the important thing to remember is that everyone has the capacity for creativity. Rather than looking for a creative, you need to define the role further. What type of creativity are you looking for?

Defining the role

The position itself will generally define what kind of creativity your ideal candidate will possess. For example, a graphic designer will likely express spatial and social creativity - but he or she may also be quite logical.

Turn to your job description. Try to imagine a candidate reading it. Does it convey the kind of creativity you're searching for? If it reads like a general call for able bodies, you may want to rewrite. If you want someone with inherent curiosity and a drive to discover (a naturalistic creative), use language that will appeal to that kind of thinker.

Job descriptions for an accountant and a sales representative shouldn't follow the same template. Each should speak its own language and appeal to a different type of persona.

Everyone has the capacity to be creative in different ways.

Assessing candidates' potential

During the interview process, it's best to have someone in the room who knows at least a little about the position's daily requirements. If you're hiring a writer, you'll want someone who's good at proofreading to go over their writing samples.

Asking about a candidate's passions outside of work is a good way to gauge the direction of their creative energy.

"I like to ask about interests that might not be on a candidate's resume," says Mary Grimm, Senior Managing Consultant with Beacon Hill's Associates Division in New York. "Maybe they are a writer, or are part of a weekend improv theater, an owner of an Etsy shop, or a triathlete – I try to connect with them on that. It's typically a passion that is equally important to them as their job. I ask questions such as 'tell me what you like to do in your free time', but I also take it one step further and ask them to tell me about a project, outside of work that they have completed and are proud of. What steps did they have to do to complete it? How did they find time to complete it outside of work (this also shows a bit about their time management skills)? What are some challenges they faced in order to complete it?"

"Creativity is really taking two unrelated things and making something new. You see it a lot in science, you see it in art. [...] What are they reading? What else did they read? You can kind of get an idea sometimes from people if they're very single minded or if they're eclectic," suggested Bill Winchester, vice president of the brand strategy group Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, in an interview with Inc. Magazine.

In other words, use interesting creative questions to really determine the creative potential of a job candidate. Boring questions will lead to boring answers - so try throwing out a wildcard and see what happens.

Using professional recruiters

When the position you're filling is of critical importance to the company, consider using the services of a professional recruiter. Recruiters know their industries inside and out - they can spot creative individuals with ease. This frees up your time to focus on growing your business and you'll only need to focus seriously on the most promising candidates.

"Using recruiters can really help because 'creativity' isn't necessarily something that's going to jump out at you from viewing a resume," notes Vanessa Keenan, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Philadelphia. "Learning their outside interests – coaching sports, playing in a band, other passion projects – help define what 'creative genes' they have. It is also important to find out if a candidate can apply their creativity to solving problems at work. I interviewed a candidate recently who told me about an organizational problem he was having at work, and how he took it upon himself to create spreadsheets and workbooks that his whole team now uses."

Contact the recruiting experts at Beacon Hill Staffing Group to learn how they can help you find the right creative job candidates for your company.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

Related Resources