Need more innovation power in your company? One way is to hire more creative people, but this is easier said than done. How do you accurately identify the real creative thinkers from the rest of the field and all the posers? And, if you’re the candidate considering a new job opportunity, how do you know the corporate culture will embrace your high personal creativity?
All too often the hiring process is based on efficiency. The HR department and their corporate recruiters are measured on time to fill a position, and are asked to fill far too many positions concurrently. I met a corporate recruiter at a major technology company in Seattle last week who had 200 open positions to fill herself, and this individual was just two years out of college. Hence the massive growth of LinkedIn InMail blasts. The government job numbers may not show it, but what I’m seeing is massive hiring, and it is all based on filling seats fast. Therefore interviews are based on efficiency, and the fastest way is by reviewing biographical information. Just looking at past experience is fast, and important, but not too effective for creative positions.
To improve hiring effectiveness you need to go a few steps further. After screening for biographical experience, take the time to conduct situational, case-based interviews. This will help to better understand project results and work style. For example, see how to evaluate product designers and how to evaluate UX designers posts. Since we focus on design, UX and innovation leadership positions, I like to go one step deeper and overlay this with performance-based interview techniques, which focus on evaluating the key attributes of outstanding employees including:
– Ability to motivate others
– Decision making skills
– Relevance of past experiences
– Strong character and passion
These are all effective methods, depending on the skill of the interviewer. But if you are looking to uncover real creative thinking abilities, and those people with high Creative Intelligence, I like to toss in an Oddball question or two, which can tell you a great deal about a person.
Oddball interview questions can help reveal a candidate’s problem solving abilities, imagination, and flexibility; key characteristics needed for creative positions. According to Susan Ruhl at OI Partners in Denver, oddball questions “Are designed to uncover how you think, handle unexpected problems and situations, whether you are a good fit for their culture, and how creative you are.” I always try to ask at least one oddball question in every interview and I’ve seen some great ones from innovative companies like Disney, Google, Apple, Volkswagen, Amazon and Zappos among others. What Oddball interview questions to ask, you might wonder? Here are ten doozies:
1. “If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from having scissors?”
2. “How would you cure world hunger?”
3. “Does life fascinate you?”
4. “What would you do if you just inherit a pizzeria from your uncle?”
5. “How many different ways can you get water from a lake at the foot of a mountain, up to the top of the mountain?”
6. “You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be a why?”
7. “How many basketballs can you fit in this room”
8. “How would you move Mount Fuji?”
9. “If you could throw a parade of any caliber, what type of parade would it be?”
10. “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?”
And if you’re the candidate, feel free to turn the tables. Maybe not with the junior level recruiter, but when you get your interview with the big executive, toss in an oddball question or two yourself. You will learn volumes about the company culture regarding innovation by pressing executives out of their comfort zone.
Need more innovation power in your company? Hire more creative people, and toss in a few Oddball interview questions. Another interview tip for interviewing creative leaders, replace the resume with a white board. In the interview just ditch the resume and ask the candidate to tell their story on a white board; it’s a great way to see a person’s ability to think on their feet, solve problems, and communicate on the fly – verbally and visually.
What methods work for you? What are your favorite oddball questions?