Creative or Crazy: Knowing which Candidates to Hire

Imagine incessantly refreshing your email inbox, anxiously jumping whenever the phone rings, or atte...

Posted by Coriana Spencer, HR Industry Writer and Blogger on April 11 2016
Coriana Spencer, HR Industry Writer and Blogger
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Imagine incessantly refreshing your email inbox, anxiously jumping whenever the phone rings, or attempting to sound “normal” when you finally land an interview. This is the typical behavior of a nervous job seeker who is eagerly awaiting an opportunity to impress an employer. Most job seekers have the basics down: confusedshowcasing the best and most relevant experience on their résumé, arriving on time for the interview, dressing appropriately, and so on. However, with three in four full-time employed workers open to, or actively looking for, new job opportunities, the pressure to stand out is on. In this highly competitive job market, being qualified for a job opening isn’t always enough. With multiple skilled workers applying for the same positions, job seekers are becoming more creative with their approaches, and are going to extreme measures to get a spot at their desired workplace.

Creative top talent knocking at your door is a good thing, right? Every recruiter and HR professional understands the need for creativity to foster innovation, but what happens when creativity goes too far? Here are some tales from recruiters and other professionals about candidates whose attempt to get it right went wrong:

Liar Liar

“A candidate listed a company on his résumé where I had previously worked. He never worked there. He was not pre-screened by our HR department, so the discovery of his ‘exaggeration’ happened while we were face to face during the interview. Neither one of us really knew where to go after that.” Ian Siegel, CEO of (

Wrong Tune

A candidate sang her responses to the interview questions. (

Pet Smart?

Thinking it would showcase a softer side, a candidate brought a pet bird with him. (

Creepy Caller

“I was doing a phone interview and when I asked if the candidate had any questions for me. She replied, ‘You sound very attractive; I think we may have a connection. Would you please describe what you look like in detail?’ Really?” Ann Larson, Managing Partner, The Interview Experience. (

Worst Foot Forward

One hopeful candidate thought it would be a great idea to send in a used shoe to “get their foot in the door.” (

Fire Hazard

To showcase a ‘burning desire” to be hired, a candidate lit a corner of his résumé on fire. (


As you can see, creativity can go wrong, but don’t fear the possibility of a unique hiring experience with a creative candidate. During the hiring process, those in talent management should still seek candidates who prove they have an ability to think outside of the box. Creative hires bring many benefits to an organization such as:

  • Breaking the pattern of homogeneity: The best workplace cultures will include employees who bring a variety of ideas, experiences, and perspectives.
  • Increasing problem solving: Creative minds introduce new ways of thinking. Having various employees working to achieve one common goal creates faster ways to solve problems and make decisions.
  • Attracting and retaining top talent: The best candidates want to work for an innovative company. A company proves itself to be innovative by re-defining their industry, producing fresh perspectives, and allowing employees to create and think independently. By hiring talent with non-traditional work methods, not only will employees want to stay in an environment which fosters their creativity, the company has the potential to attract new business and become an industry go-to.

So don’t let the horror stories fool you. Creative does not always equal crazy. In fact, it often leads to a successful hire. Here are examples of creative job seekers who found the perfect balance between showcasing their skills and being creative:

Love is in the Air

A candidate who had been looking for a job in the Marketing field decided to take a chance by delivering her résumé and marketing plan along with a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day to her potential employers. Not only did her idea give her marketing experience, but she was also contacted for interviews! (

Invitation to Success

A candidate created a cover letter which resembled a wedding invitation inviting the employer to hire her rather than a request to be hired. (

Bilingual Connection

A candidate requested to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his skills. (

Hired Hacker

Alec Brownstein faced the seemingly impossible task of getting the attention of top creative directors. Avoiding the résumé and cover letter route, he decided to buy Google advertisements attached to the director’s names. Whenever the directors would Google themselves, they would see a personalized message from Brownstein, and a link to his website. His creativity worked! Within a few months Brownstein received calls from the creative directors he targeted, and two of them offered him a job! (

The best creative candidate is one that will creatively sell their skills and qualifications. They will not do a random act in an effort to get noticed, but will instead find a way to both grab your attention and showcase their skills. Assess a candidate’s creative approach to the hiring process by answering, “How does this type of creativity translate into the skills needed for the open position?” The right candidate will effectively communicate and illustrate their abilities by delivering something valuable and unique. Being creative does not have to equal crazy! Hire with an open mind, and reap the benefits of hiring creative candidates.

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Coriana Spencer, HR Industry Writer and Blogger
Coriana Spencer, HR Industry Writer and Blogger
Coriana writes and edits HR-related articles for Berkshire's blog, Berkshire's Customer Community Portal, and Berkshire's social media channels.

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