Hiring with the ‘HEART’ in Mind

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.” -Henry David Thoreau

This holds true across all job functions and levels. It is specifically applicable to design jobs, where you hire a person to solve problems for your team/organization — and problems which are by nature very ambiguous and require a lot of ‘love’. How do you go about and find that right person, who is going to come in, and make this magic happen?

There are a lot of resources around hiring for UX designers, few of them on the lines of Ultimate Guide for Hiring UX Designers, a step by step approach on how to How to hire a UX Designer, or even mapping out the experience of hiring here — The UX of hiring for UX positions. It’s not so difficult to hire designers evaluating them on their portfolio, and past projects and experience — but how do you really determine if they design with their ‘heart’.

Mentoring, and conducting interviews for entry and mid level designers, at LinkedIn and my previous jobs, has taught me to interview from my HEART — which essentially is an mnemonic which stands for the following :

This one is generally applicable across varied roles of positions and experience — but so much more for a designer’s role, which requires a lot of understanding and empathizing with the user, and can be elucidated as following:

H — Hear

Hire designers who hear, and listen; before responding. Who take efforts to understand your question before they respond. This is the right skill and the attitude you are looking for in your designers. The ones who listen and understand before responding — which makes it a thorough response, and not just a reply. This helps you visualize how they would empathize with others, be it users or team members, right from this point in the interview.

E — Excite

Know and understand what designers are excited about. What are the latest trends, products, concepts, and ideas that inspire and excite them. Often these things let you to know what motivates them, as a person and then as a designer. This will only helps you gauge what type of design work will make them successful and happy, if they had to join your team — and thereby make your design team exciting and well rounded.

A — Ask

Hire designers who are curious, about your day to day life in the company, your business, team, team members, your company/team culture, what challenges you, what keeps you up at night, what brings you in at work on a Monday and everything apart from the job profile. This curiosity help you understand their motivations, and expectations — only helping you to set that as a baseline if they had to start on your team, and enable them to bring their better self at work.

R — Relationship

Look out for designers who strive to create relationships. Designers are the binding glue between the different departments (Product, Engineering, Sales, Marketing etc) of the organization. Ask them about their team and their peers in their previous jobs. Ask them if they keep in contact with their peers from their previous workplace. Try and find out how do their peers from other departments see them as. A question I usually ask is ‘If I had to meet your product manager/engineer in the streets today, and I ask them about you — how’d they describe you in three words or a short sentence?’. This does give you an idea of how they present themselves, and manage workplace relationships, in a collaborative and empathic manner.

T — Thankful

Hire designers who are thankful for the interview and opportunity. Look out for candidates who are grateful and appreciative of the interview time, and in general, happy about this conversation. Humbleness is a good trait to find in designers — which only translates to the designs, and keep it simple and uncomplicated.

This mnemonic, isn’t really, the sole criteria for hiring — but is a good checklist in place to go ahead and use it subconsciously in your interview process.

As Peter Schutz ( President and CEO of Porsche, 1981–1986) would say

“Hire character. Train skill.” — Peter Schutz

..I’d hold this quick mnemonic as a guideline while interviewing, look out for character, and hire with the ‘HEART’ in mind.

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