What to Look Out for When Hiring Your First Designer

Go to market strategy? Check. Established market plan for your product offerings? Check. Hired a designer that understands your brand and can take it to the next level? Well, not quite yet.

Hiring your first designer can be a harrowing process, whether you’re looking out for a product designer, a graphic designer, or a jack-of-all-trades. Before crafting a job listing or starting to talk to designers in your network, you’ll need to figure out what it is you’re looking out for. Below we’ll go over some of the top skills and characteristics you should keep in mind when you start hiring your first designer.

Demonstrated Creativity

Beyond their creativity, they should also have examples of exactly what you need immediate help with. Do you need a logo yesterday or a new approach to your user flow that you’ve tried to mock up yourself? Your first designer doesn’t have to have skills in every aspect of design, but a willingness to learn is key.

Don’t see something in their portfolio that you’d like to see? Create a design challenge during the interview process that includes them creating the early stages of that type of deliverable. Maybe they have plenty of examples of infographics, but no eBooks. Ask them to create an eBook design that is a few pages long about a fictional topic. Beyond the finished product, also ask them to write something quick up about how they approached the challenge to get a window into their thought process when it comes to something they haven’t worked on before.



Able to Incorporate the Right Feedback

Connected to the Design Community

Team player attitude? That’s exactly the designer you need.

Delegation Skills

When hiring contractors, your designer will need to have airtight communication skills to produce creative briefs that ensure deliverables are on-brand and move the larger project moving forward faster.

Once your company outgrows external design help and needs to hire an additional part or full-time designers, your lead design hire will need to be an excellent manager. This includes delegating tasks and helping all new employees manage workload.

Puts the End User First

More Than a Designer

Drawing on the weekend can refresh designers so they can bring new ideas into work on Monday.

It might sound like a cliche, but everyone at a startup needs to wear multiple hats. A phrase that isn’t in a startup employee’s vocabulary is: “that’s not my job.” We’ve all assembled chairs for a new office, restocked the fridge, or helped plan a company event. Startups require all hands on deck. These “assorted other duties” help the team succeed, even though they have nothing to do with what’s listed in a designer’s job description. Make sure when hiring your first designer that they are similarly flexible.

Soft Skills

This is often where discussions of “culture” come in. Every company has a distinct culture, and any new hire shouldn’t be required to fit in, but rather be able to add something to your company culture. This will help grow the outlook of your company and employees.

Closing Thoughts

What else should entrepreneurs look out for when hiring their first designer? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio.

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Originally published at blog.proto.io on February 13, 2019.

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