Innovation: it’s one of the most important words to ever come into the workplace, and with good reason. Innovation is what drives growth and pushes companies to new heights, markets, and technologies. However, building a culture of innovation can be a challenge—and it starts with hiring the right people, of course.
There are all kinds of people in this world. Some of them are more comfortable doing the same job over and over, going home, and enjoying their lives. Others have the curiosity and drive to engineer new solutions, problem solve creatively, and come up with the next big thing. In order to build a culture of innovation, you need those creative people on your team.
Here’s how to hire for innovative employees.
Focus on Emotional Intelligence and Creativity
There’s probably already a lot of innovation on your team already, and you don’t even know it. Many introverts are creative people, but they may need some additional encouragement to open up and come out of their shell. When you’re hiring new employees, look for the traits of emotional intelligence and creativity.
Creative people are the backbone of every innovation effort, and people with high emotional intelligence are great at working and communicating with others, as well as generally maintaining high levels of emotional well-being and leadership skills. Even if you are not hiring for an innovation-specific role, these are important traits to look for when cultivating a culture of innovation.
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Don’t Hire the Yes Man
Groupthink is death to innovation, and the yes man will agree with everyone to keep the peace. In order for true innovation to emerge, things need to get a little messy. There needs to be some disagreement, because ideas can’t be properly vetted unless there are challenges and questions posed about each new idea.
Now, you don’t want to hire the guy who will disagree with everyone because he thinks he knows best on everything, but you do want to hire the person who isn’t afraid to speak up when they have a question or concern.
Embrace the Career Fair
There are a lot of downsides to hiring people straight out of college—they don’t have any meaningful real world experience in the workplace yet, after all. However, there are also some very good reasons to hit the career fairs and consider bringing some fresh talent onboard. Not only do they generally start at a lower salary, but they also haven’t been influenced by traditional office politics and processes—making them great candidates for an innovative workplace.
Instead of working against biases and opinions they’ve built up after years in the office, young workers are usually full of ideas and excitement, and are ready to think outside the box. Your whole team shouldn’t be hired out of a career fair, but it’s a great place to find fresh, innovative talent.
Ask the Right Questions
Take a look at the questions you’re asking potential employees. Do they evaluate the candidate’s adaptability and willingness to dream big? Most companies are moving away from standard interview questions these days and opting for a more customized approach, so don’t be afraid to tailor your interview questions to identify the most innovative candidates of the bunch.
Asking questions that assess strategic vision, logic, and ambition will help you find the most suitable new team members. Look at their body language as well as assessing their answers—you want to choose candidates who are comfortable thinking on their feet.
The Benefits of Innovative Employees
When your team lives and breathes innovation, you have so many more opportunities on the table for growth. Whether your employees are dreaming up ways to reduce waste in the office or brainstorming the next revolutionary product, the benefits of hiring a team that thrives on innovation is obvious. In today’s ever-changing market, it’s important to seek out new hires that will be ready and willing to shift at a moment’s notice and apply some creative thought to the inevitable challenges your business will face.
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