1. The one that understands that promotions and raises will not cause someone to start making significant contributions to the department, rather, they happen in response to the ones already made.
2. The one that is fun to interview. By fun, I don’t mean funny ha ha. But fun as in really interesting to talk to. What makes someone interesting to the creative director they may some day work for? Passion. A passion for this business which is demonstrated through their knowledge of it. If they’re a designer for example, this doesn’t mean knowing the latest software; knowledge means knowing how design is evolving and how it is impacting consumers in ways that are different than five years ago.
3. The one with ambition. A sense of impatience, and urgency, and curiosity, and a place to go where they will take everyone on the team. Ambition is about more than someone saying they’re ambitious. In fact if they do, it kind of negates it. Ambition is a left over feeling the Creative Director has about all the things someone was up to and interested in.
4. The one that doesn’t apologize 10 times during the interview for something they meant to do, or forgot, or were going to do. If they know it’s enough of a transgression to apologize for it, why don’t they just fix it! See, an apology in an interview turns into an excuse why it wasn’t done when promised later, and Creative Directors don’t like that.
5. The one that listens and can have the crap ripped out of their book, and can take it on the chin and learn from it. That’s joy. That’s a Creative Director having the most amount of fun possible. Getting into a great productive conversation about how to make an idea better. But it can’t happen, and won’t ever happen with someone who gets tense during the interview. Debate is great, defensiveness is a snore.
6. The one that has researched and read the website and looked at the work. Maybe they have a question about something. A burning question about a particular piece of work? How did they do that? How much did it cost? How did it get approved? What was the brief? What happened at the initial presentation to the client?
7. The one with questions – good ones. I know it’s hard to know what is appropriate to ask. How about, if it wouldn’t be asked on a first date, then it shouldn’t be asked here. But like a date, there are things to learn, finding out if this is worth more attention. *If you’re challenged in the dating scenario, maybe you can kill two birds with one stone here. *
8. The one with style. Okay I know it sounds superficial, but it’s true. We sell style. Some kind, any kind, but we’re selling style. We sell our style to our clients, who we create their style for. So it’s a good idea to demonstrate an understanding of that construct.
9. The one with an appropriate understanding of their market value. It’s okay for anyone to want to make the money they want to make. It’s also okay for the Creative Director not to have as much money in their budget as is required to hire the person they are interviewing. (If the person is priced appropriately, a note will be made for the future.)
But it’s not okay for someone to have a massively inflated sense of what their salary should be. In all fairness, it’s hard. There are no standards – so everyone is pretty much going on word of mouth. Maybe someday we’ll have them.
Perhaps a way around this is to state current salary, and any other compensation details. It’s also good to understand what bonuses were received in previous years, and what they were based on.
10. The one who knows what his/her weaknesses are and is actively engaged in a plan to work on them.
11. The one with interests outside of work. It can be anything really. I met a Creative Director once who intentionally hired people who did cool stuff outside of work. Thought it made for more interesting people, and he wanted to work with interesting people. Why not?
12. The one that understands the previous 11 points. In fact, the more senior someone is, the more of these points they should have mastered.
13. The one with the killer book. Unfair to put it last, because it’s so important. But if someone has all 13, I’m pretty certain that every CD (or President hiring a CD) will want to hire that someone.
And, once hired, do anything to keep.