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  • Writer's pictureLiftOfff Design Agency

What's the best way to hire a designer for startup

Where to look and how to attract a designer to a startup

In this article we will provide a strongly recommended advices for hiring and interviewing a designer for your startup based on a personal experience.

Having 10 years of experience as a designer, I have been interviewed by small and large startups periodically, and I could tell shortly after the first interview if I wanted to continue the process and invest my time. Just one question could shake my trust, and I would wonder if it was worth it. Startups have an open minded view of employers and respect work-life balance, remote work, and high bonuses, but sometimes aim too high for the "perfect" designer.

There are many designers today, but, as always, there is a competitive struggle for truly valuable specialists. And start-ups often suffer in this struggle, which, unlike large corporations, cannot offer three meals a day in their own restaurant, a trendy office and a gym with a sauna and a swimming pool in the same place. Fortunately for them, designers are no longer attracted to all these bonus benefits as they were before. This is why it's very important for any small startup who wants to collaborate with a professional and successful designer to become their friend, and not a parent.

To stand out from the background of IT giants, startups need to take into account several important points:

1. Stop being Freud

Some designers feel like they are in a police station when asked all-in-one design skills, strict questions about their professional experience, and Freudian psychoanalysis questions. Instead of creating a strict interview, have a friendly chat. In my own experience, I felt comfortable discussing my portfolio and projects with a friendly and professional person.

For example, questions such as " What is your greatest weakness? " and "Why do you think you are a good match" are outdated and everyone knows the answer. Any designer hopes to get hired specifically after years of freelancing should first focus on gaining professional experience and developing social networking skills. In other words, money + experience + friends. When hiring and interviewing a professional graphic designer, learn what they look for, provide the "perks," and then start with police interview questions.

2. Tell about the company in an attractive way

Tell the designer you are doing something valuable and necessary, so he will be more willing to be involved. To help avoid the clichéd perception of the company (fintech is boring, banks are conservative, sports betting is dull) and get a strong specialist, a non-clichéd description of the vacancy and the company can help. Phrases like " Our startup will change the world " became quiet clichéd , and used too many times. Find a new and creative way to promote your startup as a promising land to a designer. Promises newest, apps, software, fun features and other design products which designers can't afford.

It is important for product managers to believe in the work they do, and for starters, read through the description of the company and the vacancy. The moral is that you can't know where an employer, a job, or a dream team is waiting.

3. Don't insist on working in the office

We are used to attracting employees with interesting tasks, vibe, a fun and smart team, a modern interior designer - people often want to work with us themselves. But with designers, unfortunately, this does not work. Designers will not always be impressed with an office that is cool for a project or product. The designer sees a lot of “wrong” things: the wrong chairs, tables, light, color. And the company's recent advantage becomes a disadvantage.

Of course, there are companies with a design culture, like Readymag, Intercom and others, where the space is actually created by designers for designers, but such examples are rare.

Therefore, when hiring a designer on staff, think about how he sees your office. Even something as simple as a room has a big impact on the designer funnel at a startup. It is better to hire a remote specialist, but so that he works in conditions that are comfortable for him. Moreover, the option of remote work in general can be your main advantage in the eyes of the designer.

3. Order a paid project

Remote work is a very attractive format today. As practice shows, many top designers refuse to go to most fancy office and appear there only on demand.

A professional designer should be hired online at the very beginning of the process. It is difficult to recruit a successful designer with a time schedule from 9 to 18 with a freezer full of beer and cookies. Since modern technologies and their work allow them to be accessible and do their job anywhere in the world, IT-specialists have long been all in favor of remote work.

But employers, hungry for control, are still very wary of the idea of ​​remote work. Therefore, the willingness to work remotely will be a weighty argument for choosing in your favor. In the end, you need the result, not the contemplation of the back of the designer's head, so it makes sense to agree with his rules of the game if they affect the final product in almost no way.

Having obtained a strong diss in this way, you will receive a top standard (in the design case, also at a fixed cost) - a base that others will even spoil for a long time to come. But for support, feel free to hire a middle or even a confident junior. This will make things easier for you if the junior is in the office, where he will be able to dictate to you the rules of the game less.

It is important to understand that a junior cannot be the first member of the design team, otherwise you automatically get a person who does not want to grow and develop, since he obviously understands that there will be no opportunity to learn from senior colleagues.

4. Where to look for talented designers?

But if there is no expertise, none of the sites will help to close the vacancy quickly and efficiently - it is easier to turn to highly specialized services that take on the expertise. Some startups have successfully recruited terrific designers by browsing through online sites for designers and searching relentlessly for portfolios that suit their design sensibilities


In order to success please remember that any designer is a human being and your best friend


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