When Hiring Innovative Employees, These Are the Traits You Should be Looking For

Every company may slightly define innovation in different terms, depending on if it’s a tech company, a marketing company, a retail business, etc. Tech companies might look for someone who is more inventive, marketing companies might look for a candidate who is more creative, and a retail business may look for someone who finds ways of working smarter, not harder. Innovation in any workplace setting is often associated with progression, development, and improvement. So, you may be wondering, how do I find myself an innovative employee?

During the hiring process, look for these five traits in candidates:

1. Curiosity

Curiosity is one of the most important traits to look for when hiring innovative employees, because you want to make sure the candidate has an active mind. The ability to ask thoughtful questions and think beyond the obvious indicates someone is a life-long learner. During the interview process, note moments of curiosity the candidate shows towards your company or the job description and ask about past projects they’ve completed and what they learned. This demonstrates a desire for progression, both personally and professionally.

2. Self-motivation

Self-motivation reflects the ability to solve problems and work towards goals. This aids in being a life-long learner because motivation can give a person that push to learn more about a topic they’re researching or a goal they’re trying to complete, while also increasing productivity. You may ask candidates, “What motivates you?” You may also state, “Tell me about a time you lacked the knowledge to complete a task and how you overcame that.” The question is straightforward, while the statement allows the candidate to exemplify a time in which they took the opportunity upon themselves to learn more.  Did they give themselves deadlines? What did their process to learn more about a topic they had little knowledge of look like? What was the outcome? What did they learn?

3. Critical thinking skills

Being able to think critically challenges prior ways of thinking or doing, which can lead to more innovative solutions. Critical thinkers can make better decisions, exhibit problem-solving skills, better understand problems and how to reach solutions, while fostering their own independence. Ask interviewees to share a time they have had to convince a supervisor, coworker, or team member to take a different approach to a task or problem. Ask them to explain their decision-making process to see how their brain works and how their critical thinking skills have come into play in prior jobs.

4. Adaptability

You want to make sure your candidate can adapt to our ever-changing world. Inquiring about times they’ve adapted to unforeseen or difficult situations will give you an idea of if they can pivot.

5. Passion

Those who usually change the game-plan in their given industries through innovative means are very passionate about their work. Ask candidates why they’re passionate about this role or this industry to find out more about what drives them. Do their eyes light up? Do they have a lot to say? Does their excitement rub off on you?

By looking for these five traits during the hiring process, you can determine if this candidate has an innovative nature that will aid in reaching company goals.  

Nexxt is a recruitment media company that uses today’s most effective marketing tactics to reach the full spectrum of talent – from active to passive, and everything in between. Learn more about hiring with Nexxt.

This article was written by Michaela Coll.
Michaela Coll is writer, editor, and consultant. During her free time, Michaela likes to write poetry, blog posts, and creative short stories, some of which you can find on her Linktree. When she’s not writing or reading, you can find her snuggled up with her cats or dogs.

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