Uncovering Creativity In Interviews

Someone asked me the other day about my approach to the recruitment of salespeople. Specifically, the conversation was around how you can get to know the real person you seek to hire.

I listed a number of traits that I try to home in on, in a way that I cannot be ‘gamed’. These include grasp of Process, pitching/objection-handling/closing, passion, initiative and optimism. Of these five areas, one we animatedly discussed revolved around how you uncover creative spirit.

Many moons ago I read an article that listed a pair of classic tests for creativity. You give a candidate 30 seconds to write down ideas on these two posers:

  • words beginning with ‘c’ that have four letters
  • uses you can think of for a particular household object (the two most commonly used apparently being a brick or paper clip)

Inspired by the successful use of these in interviews that I myself conducted, over the years I’ve added a further quartet along similar lines. Not only have they unearthed genuine and wonderful insight into a person’s creativity, but I’ve also learned that in these days of automaton interviewing (although I am quite a fan of psychometric tests as a decision support aid) they gain the added benefit of distinguishing my opportunity from others in the minds of the hopefuls:

  • activities for a Date
  • draw a pattern for a neck-tie you’d like to see worn
  • for a specific (primary or secondary) colour, list as many flavours or derivatives of it as you can (ie. write words which evoke that colour as adjectives)
  • write a chorus for a song (based on a stipulated title of your, the interviewer’s, choosing)

As well as the ability to deduce someone’s creativity, you also gain a valuable glimpse into how they think.

In addition, I had a useful light-bulb go off in my mind before utilising these latter four, which was to test them out on my own sales resource first. If you too do this (and I’d recommend it!) it can be a terrific session addition to your next sales conference, the purpose of which being to encourage sales tactic creativity.

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