Hiring designers involves finding candidates on design-focused platforms, attracting them with a design-conscious company image, and assessing their skills through assignments. Look for candidates who consider the user, handle criticism well, and help team members improve.
Attraction, though, is a two-way street. To make candidates consider your open roles, you need to show them you’re a design-conscious company. Here’s how:
Sell your employer brand
Sway design candidates with your well-designed careers page and offer creative perks. Benefits could include a training budget or access to design tools and equipment of their choice.
Host designer meetups
Meetups allow professional designers to network and learn something new in their field. Hosting meetup events (that focus on UX, product or mobile design) gives you the chance to invite potential candidates to your offices and sends a strong message that you’re interested in building and contributing to a design community.
Sponsor design conferences
Sponsorships boost brand awareness. Your company will stand out as a sponsor for a design conference. Attendees will be more likely to consider your open roles, since you will have proven you’re active in the design world.
Source and attract more candidates
Workable helps you build and promote your brand where your next candidates are. You’re always top of mind, whether they’re actively looking or not.
When hiring a designer, look beyond their resumes. Designers with a passion for the field attend conferences, try new design apps and work on personal projects. Ask your candidates which designers they follow, how they keep up with industry trends and what inspires them.
For senior roles: Find out what new skills they may bring to the table. Those could include expertise in a specific field, such as UX design, or strong leadership abilities. Opt for people who are collaborative, innovative and able to emulate your company’s aesthetic.
Embrace diversity among candidates for all design roles. Diversity is key to success, particularly within creative teams. People of various backgrounds and mindsets have a greater collective intelligence, contribute new ideas and offer fresh takes on existing designs.
Traits to look for when hiring designers
The pursuit of perfection may lead to never-ending projects, but a desire to improve one’s work is the mark of a designer who wants to grow. As Zaharenia Atzitzikaki, Workable’s Lead UI Designer, puts it:
Good design is not like the top of the mountain you want to reach. It’s more like an endless road you walk to get better.
Candidates who embrace a growth philosophy will grow with your company. So, when hiring designers, keep an eye out for people who:
Always consider the user. Professional designers create pieces of work with the end-user in mind. Hire people who view their designs as part of a bigger picture. They should care about the process of gathering requirements and make sure the outcome meets their users’ needs.
Gracefully handle criticism. Designers usually work on teams. They collaborate with developers, marketers and a company’s clients. Your candidates should be able to receive feedback constructively from various individuals.
Help team members improve. Ask candidates to critique someone else’s designs. It’s a good sign if a candidate is able to spot areas that need improvement, but how they deliver that feedback matters. Rejecting fellow designers’ efforts outright, without suggesting how to improve a design, could indicate a lack of team spirit.
Tips for evaluating design assignments
Assignments help you compare candidates’ work and make objective hiring decisions. Here are some tips to better evaluate design assignments:
Inform candidates early on in the recruiting process that you use assignments as part of your hiring process. Explain how this kind of assignment will help you understand whether you’re both on the same page about the position’s requirements. Send instructions via email and include a specific deadline.
Assign a reasonably challenging project with a fair deadline and don’t expect perfection. When assessing candidates’ finished assignments, look for people who are methodical, know how to follow guidelines and meet deadlines. Even if their work isn’t error-free, candidates who treat the assignment professionally are genuinely interested in the job.
Design assignments are not about right or wrong answers. They help you understand the candidate’s way of working and provide you with good talking points for interviews.
If a candidate advances to the next interview stage after their assignment, ask them to walk you through their way of working. Here are some example questions that will help you assess their assignments:
What tools did you use to create this design?
Did you use any resources (e.g. font/typography libraries) and/or templates from your past projects?
Did you sketch before finalizing your images? If so, was it a digital or hand-drawing?
How much time did this assignment take you? Given more time, what would you have done to improve the design?
What was the most difficult part of this assignment for you?
Once you’ve made a hiring decision and your candidate accepts your job offer, it’s time to onboard your new team member. Provide them with necessary resources, train them on tools you use and, most importantly, involve them in your design process as soon as possible.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I find potential designer candidates?
To find potential designer candidates, post your job ad on sites where designers gather, such as Coroflot and AIGA Design Jobs. You can also browse popular portfolio sites like Behance, Dribbble, Carbonmade, and ArtStation. Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as Slack Channels and Facebook groups dedicated to design, are also good places to find designers.
How can I attract designers to my company?
To attract designers, showcase your company as design-conscious. This can be done by having a well-designed careers page and offering creative perks. Hosting design-focused meetups and sponsoring design conferences can also boost your company's visibility in the design community and show your commitment to the field.
What should I look for when hiring designers?
When hiring designers, look for candidates who always consider the user, handle criticism gracefully, and help team members improve. For junior roles, look for enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. For senior roles, look for expertise in a specific field or strong leadership abilities. Embrace diversity among candidates for all design roles.
How can I assess a designer's skills?
Assignments are a great way to assess a designer's skills. Inform candidates early on in the recruiting process that you use assignments as part of your hiring process. Assign a reasonably challenging project with a fair deadline. When assessing candidates’ finished assignments, look for methodical work, adherence to guidelines, and meeting deadlines.
What questions should I ask when evaluating design assignments?
Ask candidates to walk you through their way of working. Questions could include what tools they used, whether they used any resources or templates from past projects, whether they sketched before finalizing their images, how much time the assignment took, and what they would have done to improve the design given more time.
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