Hiring Headaches: How to Deal with Difficult Creative Interviewees

Hiring Headaches: How to Deal with Difficult Creative Interviewees

The job interview can be tough for both parties. In some cases you can tell whether a creative job interviewee would be a bad hire just a few minutes into your discussion. That being said, making a rush to judgment can be problematic if you rule out a potentially good hire — but unremarkable interviewee — too quickly. Following are three difficult interviewees you’re likely to encounter along with techniques that will help you elicit the information you need to adequately evaluate them.

Interviewee #1: The Quiet One

After a half-dozen questions, this candidate has provided only short responses. While the applicant’s resume and portfolio are impressive, you can’t get a good read on the person or how she would fit with your organization. While your inclination might be to fire more and more questions at the job hopeful, hold back. This interviewee is probably shy; bombarding her with additional queries in rapid succession could cause the candidate to clam up even more.

Try slowing the pace of the interview and give the person ample time to expand on her thoughts. Some people simply take more time to warm up and formulate answers. In addition, be sure you’re asking open-ended questions that require more than a one-word reply. Also, do your best to find a topic the person is excited to discuss. This is where a seemingly softball question such as “What creative pursuits do you enjoy in your spare time?” can help open the dialogue and pave the way to more meaningful responses.

Interviewee #2: The Nervous Nelly

The opposite of the Quiet One, the Nervous Nelly barely lets you get a word in. This individual likely suffers from interview anxiety, as evidenced by the nonstop chattering. Try to put this person at ease by slowing down your own speech. If you’re deliberate and calm in your delivery, the applicant may take a cue from you and settle down.

Hopefully you find that this individual’s nervousness subsides during the course of the interview. If it doesn’t, there may be a bigger issue to consider beyond the over-talkativeness. After all, regardless of how much creative talent a person possesses, you don’t want to hire someone who presents himself poorly or is inept at handling high-pressure situations.

Interviewee #3: The Sensitive Type

This candidate takes his work very personally. When you say you really like a direct-marketing piece in the person’s portfolio but ask why he chose a particular typeface, the individual bristles defensively or seems to wilt before your eyes.

When encountering this type of interviewee, dig deeper to help determine how the candidate will take direction. For example, you might ask him to describe a situation when a client or manager criticized his work and how he responded. Particularly in the creative industry, you can’t afford to hire someone who isn’t open to constructive feedback. Plus, you and your existing creative team probably don’t have the time to deal with a new team member’s bloated or fragile ego.