The Way We Work
July 27, 2011 by Tamara Rice

Need to hire a graphic designer as soon as possible? Consider these must-ask questions and can’t-be-ignored red flags specific to graphic design.

1. “What program do you use and are you certified?” There’s no right answer, of course, unless you have a personal preference, but this will help you gauge the  professionalism of your potential hire. Are they using something that’s free? Like the free download of (Probably not the best sign.) Or has this person really invested in their career by buying top-of-the line software. Are they certified in any particular program like Adobe InDesign or Corel? How you interpret the answer is up to you, but understand that owning the best software doesn’t always guarantee skill.

The One-Click Interview Series:

It can be difficult to hire someone for a position you aren’t well acquainted with. For example, if all you’ve ever known is software development, hiring an accounting clerk might be a challenge. That’s why we’ve developed The One-Click Interview series — to help make hiring outside your skillset even easier. Check out How to Hire a Writer.

2. “What can you show me from your portfolio that is similar to what I want?” This is not about getting free ideas out of the person. This is about seeing similar work. If you want business cards, ask to see their business cards. A brochure? Make sure you see what they’ve done in that regard. Be sure they have experience creating the type of work you need.

3. “What format/file type will you use to turn in your work?” This is important depending on what you plan to do with it. If they are creating a button for your website and your web designer wants to get it in the form of a jpeg file, then you need to be sure that’s what you’ll get.

4. Show the designer some samples of things you like. Graphic designers are not mind readers. Show each person you interview a few links to concepts or layouts that are similar to what you are looking for. Be sure to get a feel for whether or not they can deliver what you want. (By the way, you should probably pass on any interviewee who criticizes the type of artwork you want.)

5. Ask about the designer’s work schedule. Proper design projects will require a lot of back and forth between you and the designer you hire. You’ll want to see the progress at specific check points (sketch, mockup, rendering, etc.). Be sure that you understand when the designer is and is not working, so that you don’t become frustrated by a designer who is never available to talk when you are.

6. “How many hours do you expect to spend on the project?” You may or may not know what is realistic for your project, but getting the estimation from several interviewees will start to give you some answers.

8. If you decide to hire the designer, pass him one assignment at a time. Starting off slow will allow you to weed out the bad hires and discover the great ones before making any kind of long-term contract commitment.

Ever made any big mistakes hiring a graphic designer? Share what you’ve learned about interviewing designers in the comments below.


Tamara Rice

Freelance Writer and Editor

Tamara Rice is one of several freelance writers on the oDesk Blog team. She joined the oDesk marketplace in 2009, after more than six years on staff at an award-winning national magazine.