The following is Part Two of a four-part series on hiring for innovative ideas. The series will post each Wednesday during the month of April.
All people have natural strengths to be innovative, whether they are butchers or bakers or cabinet makers. But how can you identify them in the job application and interview process? Though it does give some cues, the resume—whether a white one-sheet or a creatively-designed interactive puzzle—is of course not enough.
Suppose you have evaluated your team and you realize that you do not have all brain types represented. Specifically, you need someone with a "conceptual" brain to foster innovation and ideas that are not bound by the kinds of restraints that often hinder others. (Other folks say, "It has never been done before," "It’s too expensive," or "You’ll never get it approved," for instance.)
These conceptual people naturally look at things differently. They usually excel at generating ideas and making the "quantum leaps" necessary to solve difficult problems. They need to engage with the big picture. They enjoy a challenge and immediately focus on solutions, but not the steps involved to get there. They are quickly bored by details and mundane matters.
So how do you weed out the innovators from the masses? And how can you distinguish the best ones at that? Naturally you want an intelligent, energetic employee with enthusiasm and integrity, one whose values are in line with those of your organization.
Finding an innovative thinker also means looking for a creative resume, with writing that is metaphorical and playful, even inspirational. Look for phrases like, "I am an idea person," "I am visionary," or—better yet—"I enjoy developing solutions that are fresh and new." Don’t be suspicious of a career path that has jumped from one field to another.
Coming Next Wednesday: Interview questions to help you identify strong innovators.