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Creative Inspiration: Interview Questions and Playtime


How would you move Mount Fuji? How would you weigh a jet plane without scales? Which way should the key turn to unlock a car door? These are all fun interview questions, but as Max McKeown argues, hiring brainteaser champions is not a guarantee that the person is creative or that they will help the company innovate.

Much like Google’s recent interview in the New York Times, McKeown offers a new take on recruitment, suggesting that far more important than what a person knows is how a person learns.  “The way that people have learned what they know and the way they intend learning what they will need to know in the future is the real difference between candidates. It’s also the difference between companies. Learning new things is at the heart of innovation.”

This is interesting to read from an employer’s perspective, but if you’re reading this from the point of view of a prospective applicant, it is also a nice little reminder not to get lazy and to make creative thinking a part of our day-to-day lifestyles.

Some other thought-provoking questions come from 3 Interview Questions for Screening Innovative Employees, where  Ilan Mochari discusses how to find the truth behind a prospective employee’s interview answers by asking the right questions. He quotes questions that certainly do get you thinking. They could even be used for a little self-direction, for those moments when you aren’t quite sure where your career is heading.

  1. If you had one month and a $50,000 budget to tackle any project, what would it be?
  2. Which external jolts or wild cards have the potential to significantly impact our industry?
  3. Which new customer segments will emerge in five years? How will those customers discover our product?

Moving on from recruiting, Brian Nielson tackles the issue of creativity in business by focusing on structure. His methods outlined in 5 Ways to Enhance Creativity with Structure might not be whimsically creative, but they are very practical and rooted in scientific research.

  1. Organise new project requests into a global creative calendar
  2. Replace one-off creative briefs with a department-wide, templated creative brief
  3. Incorporate project kickoff and collaboration meeting agendas
  4. Create routing, review, and approval policies
  5. Centralise project tasks on a unified work management dashboard

On a slightly different note, an article from the Guardian caught our eye this week; Parents are forgetting how to play with their children. It discusses how both parents and children are unsatisfied with playtime, as parents say they have forgotten how to play and children say that their parents either don’t have the time or it is clear they aren’t enjoying playtime.

Amelia Hill’s article is about more than adult-child relationships though, as it demonstrates a disconnect between adults and a more creative period in their lives. Hill quotes Byron, a psychologist and child therapist: “There are four key ingredients to a successful playtime between parents and children: education, inspiration, integration and communication.”

Those four ingredients could so easily be applied to our working environments.

Five more things we enjoyed reading recently:
A look into the science of talent
5 grammar tips from David Foster Wallace
Do you share or hoard ideas at work?
Pixar’s philosophies of success
Buzz Aldrin on tinkering

Photo Credit: PhoTones_TAKUMA via Compfight cc

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