Are you creative? | Interview prep help

If you need to hire someone to work for you, wouldn’t you want to hire a sensible, smart and creative person? Companies want just the same. They want to hire the smartest and the most creative folks. Which is why interviewers ask you those questions that put you on the spot during an interview. Your answer provides them a glimpse into your thinking and problem-solving capabilities.

A question like ‘Can you forecast the evolution of this industry?’ is great for the well-read candidate to answer. But if you aren’t sure of the response, don’t panic. Instead, pause for a second and try to think creatively.

One way to approach this would be to think of the pain points of the job and link it to how technology is bound to resolve it. After all, technology has changed almost everything we know today and will continue to do so and at an accelerated pace. Couple with it, the societal trends demanding urgent changes. Put them together as coherently as possible and you have your very own forecast for the industry! Remember, no answer is right or wrong. It’s the perspective that matters. The interviewer is not normally looking to pick the next Steve Jobs to disrupt the industry. If you are able to think logically and creatively despite stress – that is what he or she will appreciate.

A creative answer can make you stand out in the hundreds of candidates that an interviewer meets with every single day. One easy method to stand out in a crowd is to invest time in researching the company where you have applied for a job. Most people don’t spend time reading about the company they want to work for. If you read through the company’s LinkedIn profile, it’s Twitter handle and its Glassdoor reviews, it will help you understand the pulse of the company and its DNA. Incorporate those insights into your discussions with the interviewer.

Picture being asked something that you are absolutely not prepared for. For example, “Which recent book published in your industry do you disagree with?”. Don’t worry if you haven’t held a book since college. Think creatively. Combine a few of the relevant observations you have made about the company and steer the conversation towards it. You can always agree with the approach that the CEO of the potential employer is taking and call it ‘far-sighted’. Mention that you disagree with those nay-sayers out there who are unable to see the larger picture. The interviewer is hardly likely to go against the approach taken by the CEO of the company. On the contrary, it will demonstrate how well you are following the CEO of the potential employer, and consider him or her to be a thought leader.

Creatively combining two or three elements of knowledge you possess to navigate a tricky situation sensibly, is bound to make a mark on the interviewer.

Interviewers are looking to hire problem solvers. Problem solvers find solutions by combining, tweaking, expanding or simplifying something to arrive at a solution despite having the same constraints that others face. They think creatively to work out a solution. And this is a skill that is always in demand.

Take a look at the children around you. They are naturally good at presenting compelling arguments.

Ask a child who wants to eat a chocolate on why he must be given one and see his creativity being unleashed.

We lose that ability to be effortlessly creative as we grow older. Unfortunately, unless creative thinking is practiced, it won’t pop up at the interview table.

If you want to develop it, try the simple approach taken by Dr. Tucson George Land. Think about something – a matchbox, a table, a report card, anything at all and come up with 25 ideas (or to begin with at least 10 ideas) over and above its current use. Do this every day with a new thing, task, object or situation. Let’s say, you choose to think about a ‘dashboard’ used routinely at work, you need to come up with at least 10 additional uses for it or ideas around it. Assume that there are absolutely no constraints. On the next day, you need to choose something else to ponder over. Say, the dreaded ‘quarterly review meeting’. Think again of at least 10 different ways to use or benefit from that terrifying quarterly review meeting. With no right or wrong answers, this simple exercise will you help thinking differently, creatively and originally in the long run. It will make you question the status quo, explore potential ideas, test out new concepts and help you sync together information unconventionally.

When ‘thinking creatively’ becomes a habit, it will reflect in every part of your life be it work, home or even an interview. In your job search, it will prompt you to utilize an interview as a wonderful opportunity to showcase your skills and capabilities to your best and maybe learn something new through the experience. Don’t forget to practice creative thinking even before you begin your job hunt.