trade tales | Feb 26, 2021 |
What are your go-to questions when interviewing candidates?

Adding the right people to your team is a crucial part of expanding your business. We asked five designers—Dennese Guadeloupe Rojas, Lynn Kloythanomsup, Mary Maydan, Aisling Mittman and Rocky Rochon—to share their favorite interview questions for aspiring new hires.

Mary Maydan
Mary MaydanCourtesy of Mary Maydan

Pride of Place
“I like to ask candidates what accomplishments they are most proud of. Many portfolios look outstanding and, with 3D software, everyone looks like a great designer, but when candidates describe work that they really did, they know all the details. They know what the challenges and the solutions were. It’s not just an impressive rendering.” —Mary Maydan, Maydan Architects, Palo Alto, California

Lynn Kloythanomsup
Lynn KloythanomsupCourtesy of Landed Interiors & Homes

Flipping the formula
“We just did some hiring and one of our hired candidates had a list of questions for me to determine if we were the right fit for each other. She provided the questions and her own answers, and I provided answers on my end. She asked questions on expectations around communication and work experience, employee development, and our position and response to social justice issues. Rather than put me off, I was impressed at how incisive she was.” —Lynn Kloythanomsup, Landed Interiors & Homes, Berkeley, California

Dennese Guadeloupe Rojas
Dennese Guadeloupe RojasCourtesy of Dennese Guadeloupe Rojas

Basic instinct
“I ask them what vendors they like most, specifically for furniture lines. That tells me everything about whether or not they’d be a good candidate for my firm. I also like to send potential employees a shell of a room from an earlier project to see how they might go about creating a floor plan. That way, I can get a sense of their creative instincts and design acumen.” —Dennese Guadeloupe Rojas, Interiors By Design, Silver Spring, Maryland

Rocky Rochon
Rocky RochonCourtesy of Rocky Rochon

Looking for the whole package
“My questions are geared toward finding out what someone enjoys doing, because people are generally good at what they love, and not what they hate. So, if I’m hiring for an administrative position, yes, I want to know that they can juggle many balls in the air, but more so, do they love doing that? Because then they will. I’ll also ask what they do for fun and for relaxation and what magazines they like. A good portion of our waking hours will be spent together, so it’s really important to find connections. My sister once told me, ‘I can train most anybody, but I can’t get along with everybody.’” —Rocky Rochon, Rocky Rochon Design, Seattle

Aisling Mittman
Aisling MittmanCourtesy of Aisling Mittman

Design IQ test
“I try to always gauge a sense of how design-obsessed they are by asking questions about their favorite designers and brands and why they love them. This is always a good conversation starter as well as an indicator for me to see how deep their knowledge goes. I am always looking for someone who knows more than me in a few areas. It is important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and hire people you can learn from. Lastly, the design world is indeed very small, so I always look for a mutual contact or their previous employer to see how their work ethic is. It is important to have a good reputation, as it follows you!” —Aisling Mittman, ALM Curation Studio, Los Angeles

Homepage photo: A project by Maydan Architects | Courtesy of Mary Maydan

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