Toronto Marketing Recruiter Catherine Lund

By Catherine Lund, Toronto Marketing Recruiter

Hiring creative talent is different than hiring for more traditional or analytical roles.  How do you evaluate someone’s creativity?  And how can you tell if their particular brand of creativity will mesh with your company or clients?  As a marketing headhunter, I assess and place creative talent every day, and here’s what I’ve learned:

The interview.How to hire creatives1

To start off, a formal interview is not the best way to screen a creative person.  Let it be a conversation.  And remember that culture fit is extremely important to them, so demonstrate your corporate culture.  Let them know that you do office yoga at lunchtime or that pets are welcome in the office.

The portfolio.

Think beyond your gut reaction when reviewing a candidate’s portfolio.  Even if their work is impressive, it’s about more than whether or not you ‘like’ what they’ve done.  Here are some things to look for:

  • Have they mainly been executing someone else’s creative ideas? How much strategic experience do they have?
  • What mediums have they worked in – print, online, social, mobile, or broadcast?
  • What are their technical skills – do they have experience with UX? IA? Large builds?
  • What types of clients have they worked with?
  • Did the clients have strict brand guidelines?  If so, how creative were they within these guidelines?

The to hire creatives2

Dig deep on their resume.  As a headhunter I’ve seen a range of creative resumes, and the best ones always include specific past clients, agencies, projects, and accomplishments.  If theirs doesn’t, make sure to ask…

  • Have they led large creative teams?
  • Have they been the main point of contact?
  • Have they presented their ideas?

Hobbies and interests.

This is something I pay particular attention to.  People in the creative space need to be a part of the cultural zeitgeist.  There’s nothing worse than an ad featuring out of date slang or an old reference.  They need to know that “Gangnam Style” isn’t cool anymore.  So…how to hire creatives3

  • How do they stay current?
  • How do they foster their creativity? 
  • What are they reading?
  • How do they create their own brand?  Their website? Twitter?

Business sense.

It is great to hire someone with creative chops but can they also solve your business problems and do so on time and budget?  Do they understand your business?  Give them an assignment or sample problem and see how they solve it.


Watch out for egos.  Are they just looking to win awards or do they want to help you build your business?  Ask their references if they were difficult to work with.  Find out if you’re hiring a lead singer when what you need is a drummer to support the band… or vice versa.

At the end of the day, creatives (and everyone, really) want to feel supported and appreciated.  They need to believe in the company to do their best work.  So make sure you sell your company, team, and clients in a creative way that will engage them (from job description to interview process).

Hiring the wrong person for your creative team can be extremely costly.  To make sure you’re hiring the right person for your agency or company, follow these 6 headhunter guidelines to help you look beyond the flash and ask the right questions.


For more posts like this, check out our Hiring Trends and Headhunter Insights blog categories.  Also, learn about Marketing Recruiter, Catherine Lund, and connect with her on LinkedIn.

IQ PARTNERS is an Executive Search & Recruitment firm with offices in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. We help companies hire better, hire less & retain more. We have teams of specialist recruiters in Financial Services & Insurance, Marketing Communications & Media, Emerging Tech & Telecom, Consumer Goods & Retail, B2B & Industrial, Technology, Accounting & Finance, HR & Operations, Energy, Mining & Engineering, Life Sciences, and Construction, Property & Real Estate. IQ PARTNERS has its head office in Toronto and operates internationally via Aravati Global Search Network. Click here to view current job openings and to register with us.

Mark Rouse Marketing Recruiter

Mark Rouse

Mark leads Canada’s largest Marketing Communications & Media recruitment practice. Leveraging close to two decades of industry experience in the Marketing Services and Agency businesses, he has been responsible for hiring, developing, and retaining top talent as Vice-President with companies such as Young & Rubicam, Wunderman, and J. Walter Thompson.

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