Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Best Way to Interview

A few months ago, I reached out to my cousin's boyfriend and asked him if he could design a business card for me. You see, I have a ton of projects and I could always use a good designer on hand.

The question is, how do you know if a designer is good? Seems like there are always two camps: good designers trying to be coders or good coders trying to be designers.

Anyhow, here is the resulting lesson that I attempting to pass along to my cousin's sig other:

I recognize that you worked your ass off on those cards and I appreciate it. I got them a few weeks ago and they are acceptable (designed well, printing is ok). That bottom bleed that doesn't bleed doesn't look too bad. The area code "6" did get chopped a little bit, but still readable. So, Zazzle is acceptable for a medium quality run.

I'd normally not even take the time to write this, but I'm doing so because you are dating my cousin. I go out of my way to separate personal and professional, so I want to offer some advice to you.

I've got 4 to 5 designers that I work with. They are all damn good. Two of them are working on a project for me right now. One is unavailable because he is just got married. The other two are incredibly busy with life or starting new businesses and also unavailable.

I have a brand new software company I'm working with that is in dire need of design right now... I really think they have a chance to go big. I have two products in alpha market testing and I'm working on a business plan with two gentlemen overseas. I have a ton of work to offer.

Whenever I hire a new marketing manager, I always have them present a concept to a hypothetical new client. We grill them with questions about our company that they would no business knowing. It isn't about the answers, it's about how they deal with the questions.

This business card project was not about the business cards. I could create my own business cards if I wanted to. I wanted to test your creativity and patience.

Yes, I was a pain in the ass on purpose. Curse me if you like, but there are lessons to be learned here. First of all, the printing of your design is the only way that it comes to life. Therefore the printing is as important as the design. If the printer fucks up your design, no one ever says it was the printer's fault, they always say the designer should have known better. Printing errors render materials unusable and
worthless... which, in turn, makes your design worthless.

Second, you have to commit to finishing everything, large or small, and satisfying the customer. You agreed to the price and you must deliver no matter how much time it takes. I never added work to this project. The point is to design what makes the client happy and if the client doesn't know what that is, then you must be an expert to help them figure it out. We eventually got there, which I was very satisfied with, but the process seemed to be a bit frustrating for you. Pick up the phone, chase me down, get your answers, don't assume that you know what I want and continue to run down tangential paths forcing me to bring you back to the main idea.

I knew your were getting frustrated and that was the point. In this country, we learn by doing. I hope that you have learned from this or will eventually.

I'll definitely keep him on the list of those that I call upon.

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