Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I:CreativeRecruit - 4: Being Creative With Creatives

The question inevitably arises as to how one can be creative in interviewing creatives. Think the heavy weight agency creatives whose life force is bent towards innovation and creative idea generation.

Part of my response to this resides in investigating just 'what it is' that the client has not expressed in the position advertisement, but they still want to find in their chosen candidate.

I'm sure many of you would recognise the following type of request that is made person to person or over the phone:

"Obviously I need a brilliant designer, someone with cutting edge skills, but I don't want a drama queen who seems to think the whole studio revolves around their talents. I'm looking for brilliance of craft but also someone down to earth. Confident and classy maybe but showing they believe everyone else in the team is as special as they are."

Most people have an holistic vision of their desired employee and yet most positions vacant advertisements don't reflect this. Many of course try by saying 'seeking team player' or 'must enjoy working within a team' or similar, however unless the fulsome desire is carried into the interview process, that holistic vision can be lost and the advertising phrases ultimately used to more superficially determine whether the candidate meets 'desired' traits.

Too many interviews simply ask questions along the lines of:

"Tell me about the role you have played in team project situations"

These questions have their own value of course, but do allow a witty and articulate candidate to persuade when substance may be wanting.

This is where a consultancy service like mine can assist of course; helping the client to locate mechanisms that test claims through observable behaviour.

So, in looking at how to evaluate a creative, one looks at the situation in terms of holistic desires and profiles.

I recall being present during an interview for creatives, along with a psychologist who used sand play as a therapeutic and counseling technique. Whilst their engagement with the short listed candidates led to information creation of a certain type, my observation noted others. Two activities had occurred with the sand play, one involving the short listed candidates individually and one with them combined as a team.

As suggested, I noted different issues entirely to what the psychologist did and combined with portfolio and other information the client moved towards what wound up to be a very successful hire. This is an example of what is effectively triangulation. Using 3 or more different analytical approaches to draw a conclusion between them.

I have also watched activities at distance via a computer mounted camera in the interview room although candidates must be informed this is happening in such cases.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I:CreativeRecruit - 3: Being Creative About Knowledge

I have referred to creative recruitment design serving the ongoing recruitment process and not just the interview. The following is an example of an intervention that occurred early in the recruitment process and at the stage where prospects were being called and generally assessed. For this particular job each round brought different strategies to assess knowledge. Some were very straight forward, some more indirect. This is an example of an early intervention strategy that spoke to two of the key traits/skills that the research director was looking for.

A research facility has a sub-team of 12 researchers and scientists. They require an additional scientist come manager who also, they hope, may have some PR capabilities. In the process of communicating with early prospects, the recruiter asked some key scientific questions to do with the field of research the team were working in. It was important not to give away details about their projects that were not already public so the idea was more to ascertain the ability to respond to core field questions quickly and competently and to also do so in fairly plain English. The recruiter had, of course, been equipped with the Q&A set.

A few of the candidates found it difficult to describe or respond to several of the questions simply and they were ranked lower at this point than those who did the opposite. The Director decided to automatically place one candidate into the final round of three because when asked if they would be willing to answer some questions, this person asked if the questioner wanted scientific language or laypersons.

These approaches are really quite straightforward however it is the development of staged interventions that becomes more of an art.

I have also taken candidates in one field into a room, asked them to have a good look around, taken them outside and asked them to tell me any OH&S issues they observed whilst inside. You can prep candidates for this sort of task if you like however I find many businesses prefer dividing the acutely observant candidates from those who are not.