How To Hire A Graphic Designer

Published on: 20 Aug 2018

When looking to hire Graphic Designers, Web Developers and other Creatives, not everybody fully understands what to actually look for and how to go about it. Whether you work in HR, are an Internal Recruiter, Managing Director, or Marketing Manager; marketing, PR and creative recruiters, Brand Recruitment, have put together five tips on the things you should consider when looking for a creative professional to join your team.

  1. Establish essential vs. desirable experience

Firstly, have you decided what the essential requirements are that a candidate must have to do the job? Or, have you only decided on what skills/experience would be desirable? This is a very important thing to establish early on, as in reality the two may be miles apart.

Think about what you need to be designed/developed. Is it predominantly print; editorially focused literature; digital and social media imagery; creative artwork; websites; or infographics? Get down on paper what your business needs. Once you have a clear indication of these essentials, then you can think about what it is that would be desirable.

You will need to think realistically about this, as finding the perfect candidate who ticks every single box will be hard to come by. However, if you can find a candidate with the right personality and attitude, they will often be able to learn the skills you would find desirable that they don’t currently have. And they will probably enjoy doing so, especially if you can find/fund the training.

  1. Understand the technical skills required

Once you know what your essentials are, you can use this to figure out the technical skills you need as a base. If the technical side of design is not something you’re familiar with it could be worth asking for advice from another graphic designer, a recruiter that specialises in design (like Brand) or spending a bit of time researching online.

Nine out of ten times you will need designers to be well versed in Adobe Creative Cloud (which we find is the most commonly used group of design software packages). Depending on the type of work you need there may be parts of Adobe that are more important than others, or other software experience that is essential.

Figure out what will be needed from day one to tick the boxes of the essentials, and what would be desirable from day one, or what could be learnt to benefit you in the future. There’s lots of added packages such as Adobe Lightroom for photos, AutoCAD for technical B2B drawings and WordPress for a certain style of web development. There’s endless options out there, so try not to be too fussy about these added abilities, as most designers that love designing will be more than happy to pick up new talents for a job if they’re given the chance to practice.

  1. Understand your applicants


If you’re not a large corporate firm and don’t always need employees in a suit and straight ironed tie, perhaps consider giving creatives a little slack if they’re not suited and booted for an interview. The creative industry is generally more laid back, so don’t be surprised if your creative candidate turns up to an interview dressed in jeans and a t-shirt! There are of course more corporate creatives out there too, but we would suggest being very clear from the outset if you need your candidates to come dressed in corporate attire.


Think about whether you need your design candidates to be super gregarious as standard. It is not uncommon for designers to be slightly less extroverted. So, expect this, and certainly don’t be put off by it. The onus should be on the work they can produce for the business. Naturally though, if you’re an agency and need somebody who can represent you and communicate well with your clients, put the confident personality in as an essential requirement for the position.


You should also consider your office atmosphere. For example, if you’ve not had a creative in the office before and have a no-music policy or don’t let people listen to music on headphones, it may be worth re-thinking this. When you’re glued to a screen all day pulling images about, music can get you through the day. So, you may want to consider being able flex on this for creatives who don’t need to be on the phone constantly. And if you’re not adverse to it, outline this to candidates during interviews to help sell your office culture. You would be amazed at the number of candidates who will not take positions purely based on the atmosphere in an office.

  1. Don’t be put off by freelancing

Try not to be put off if designers freelance on the side; this is common place in the design industry. We’d say you could expect around 90% of the applicants for a design role to also do freelance design services in the evenings and on weekends. There’s no need to look at this as a negative. Instead see it as them practising in their spare time, and a signal that they are passionate about their chosen career.

To be quite honest, the design industry has never been the highest paid, and as a result this is how a lot of creatives supplement their salaries. So, if you expect applicants to commit 100% to you, you may need to be prepared to up the salary you’re offering to secure their services.

Employees freelancing can be a difficulty if you’re a design agency. In this instance, you may want to ask your new designers to give you a list of their clients before they start, and sign a clause detailing that if they leave they can’t take design work from your clients. This way there’s real transparency around their freelancing.

5. Ask to see a portfolio 

Most designers should have a digital portfolio of some of their work, either on a website you can visit, in a PDF or some may attach it along with their CV. Don’t be afraid to ask for this as a part of the process. Equally, if the candidates are more junior and detail that a lot of their more recent work was confidential, don’t discount them.

If you see somebody with a great CV and great design examples, then get them in! And if they have the great CV, but don’t quite have the examples, you could consider setting a small design test. For example, ask them to mock up a flyer using some text and your logo, or get them to create a GIF for your website – anything that can help you assess their technical skills if necessary.

We hope this guide helps those looking to make a hire in the creative field. If you need any further advice or would like assistance with a creative hire, please get in touch with Brand Recruitment as we’d be happy to help! Find out more about Brand’s Creative and Design Recruitment services and view our live creative jobs.