It may feel a little bit intimidating to hire a graphic designer if you don’t know much about the design industry, but 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, so don’t get too hung up on what you don’t know. Instead, focus on finding a candidate who is easy to work with, finds creative solutions to design problems, and shows that they’re committed to your project’s success.

Here are ten additional tips to help you choose the best graphic design candidate:

Be clear with your goals and expectations

Any successful project starts by providing enough background information to the talent you’re trying to attract. Be sure your creative 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 upfront in a graphic design job description ensures that candidates will have a good understanding of the project and gauge whether they can meet your expectations before submitting a proposal.

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 reviewing proposals. For instance, 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? Making these types of realizations upfront will ensure a much smoother interview process.

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 and thinks on the fly.

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.

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. This could be anything from designing a simple logo to touching up a prior project; it doesn’t necessarily have to be a difficult task as long as it showcases each applicant’s talent. Just remember — candidates should be paid for the trial project.

Request a short video chat interview

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 over a video service like Skype or Google Hangouts. 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, video conferencing is a great way to get a preview of what it might be like to work with each candidate.

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 upfront, the smoother the overall project will go.

Explain your brand and 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 steeped 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.

Look for relevant industry experience

It always helps if graphic design candidates have experience within your 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.

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.

This article was written by Keith Koons from Upwork and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Twitter or its affiliates.

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