5 Qualities of a Great Designer / by Pamela Green

Corporations spend thousands of dollars per year investing in creatives that would greatly improve their business. In terms of design and overall art direction, finding a superlative candidate to join your team can sometimes be more challenging than rewarding. One might end up hiring a designer who does not possess the qualities you assumed they had. 

So what are some traits that you should look out for when hiring? How can you tell whether or not a designer will be a good fit? Here are five qualities that you should consider when interviewing a designer:

1. They should have a genuine love of design.

Although this may seem pretty obvious, this trait can very easily be overlooked. When interviewing a candidate, they will show you the best of his/her works in their portfolio. Granted these works may have been published on their websites, or perhaps smaller side jobs that have been professionally produced. The fact of the matter is–this is expected. A great designer should show works that were produced outside of any financial aspect; personal works they've produced just for the genuine interest of their craft. 

2. They should be collaboratively independent.

A good designer takes initiative. However, a great designer can take initiative meanwhile working in a team. Working in a team means working with several individuals all with independent thoughts, suggestions, mood swings, etc. Being able to cooperate and take constructive criticism is definitely a MUST for all designers who are considering working in a field involving an outside force. You can test a candidate simply by making a remark about a piece, and observing their reaction (i.e. "Your work is very impressive, do you see yourself making adjustments to <insert portfolio piece> in the near future?"). A great designer would take the suggestion as a grain of salt.

3. They should pay attention to detail.

This might seem obvious, but this too–can be overlooked. A great designer should be able to notice when the kerning within a paragraph is not consistent. This may not be something you will see during the interview, but do take note of their cover letter and resume. See if you can recognize some sort of a layout/grid, and make sure their images are of good resolution--this should be apparent within a glance. 



4. They should be organized.

Fourth things fourth: You can tell from the very beginning if a designer is organized just by looking at their website/portfolio. How it is organized online should give you a clue as to how organized they are themselves. Ask yourself: Can you pinpoint this artists main interest? Do they have an apparent style through their work? How many tabs are in their navigation? This should all be simple, clean and blatantly obvious.

A great designer should also know where their files are stored and ways around a presentation if technical difficulties should arise. Having a back-up PDF, print out or even a folder with JPEGS should be prepped in advance.

5. They should know how to adapt.

Lastly, and perhaps the most important quality of a great designer: They must be able to adapt. It is their obligation to keep-up-to date with recent technologies, even if they do not have the financial support to do so (we get it–times are hard). Just knowing that they are aware, makes that much of a difference long-term. If they make references to workshops, campaigns, conferences, blogs, emails and other websites that is a good sign that they maintain an open mind.


Now, although this was broken down in terms of design, many of these traits can be applied to any profession. Keep in mind that what we look for in candidates we should also have instilled within ourselves. So regardless if you are the interviewer or interviewee, take these elements into consideration and don't just be good at what you do--be great at what you do.