Hiring the right designers: 5 skills to look for

Let’s face it, if you were looking for a chef to staff your kitchen, you’d want to taste their cooking right? But a chef does more than cook, they run your kitchen. They are largely responsible for the way your customers perceive you; their user experience. So how do you find the right designer for your team? Here are some things we’ve learned from building ours.

A great portfolio

First impressions are important and a designer's portfolio is the first thing you will see. So what do you look for in a portfolio? A good portfolio is curated, shows only their best work. Ideally 3 to 5 projects. It tells a story, gives you insight into their design process and their personal contribution to the project. As design is a team effort, ask the right questions to understand the exact part your candidate had in the team. It should make you excited to meet them and leave room for something to talk about when they come in for their first cup of coffee.

Telling the whole story

Designers make a lot of decisions: About user experience, about aesthetics and ultimately about the relationship your users have with your product and company. You’ll want people that are able to rationalise and sell those decisions to others. Not only within the team, but also when the CEO comes in for a quick update about the project. Designers should be able to tell a story and engage stakeholders in the process of design. They should be rock stars, basically.

"Designers should be able to tell a story and engage stakeholders in the process of design. They should be rock stars, basically." - Martijn Pillich, Managing Director at Hike One

Curiosity is key

Designers solve problems. They should show a tireless curiosity in looking for better methods and tools to solve those problems with. If you encounter a designer that has been working in Adobe Indesign for the last 15 years, that should raise some eyebrows. Also working for different domains, markets and end users keeps them sharp and focussed. So look for diverse designers that have experience in different fields and want to keep improving their methods. They will do wonders for your design department and ultimately your company.

It’s all about the team

Realising great digital products is a team effort. Design is just one piece of that puzzle. Being able to work closely together with developers, product owners, marketeers, etc. is what makes a designer really valuable. So make sure to ask about their experience with working in product teams. A good designer knows what impact their decisions have on development and the product as a whole. Their job isn’t done until the 5 star ratings roll in.

Focus on impact

Design is not a goal in itself, it exists to solve business problems with great digital products. So designers must be able to kill some darlings along the way, know what battles to pick and when to go with the flow. All for the good of the product. Because in the end, a product or service will be judged by the entire experience and not solely on how great the design is.

Continue the conversation

Hike One organises Beyond Design sessions for design and product leaders: roundtable discussions with up to ten participants from diverse companies to exchange experiences. Are you in? Join the community.

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