Talk to the interviewer about a time you had to solve a problem creatively. Your answer doesn't have to be an invention or a tremendous break-through you made in your previous role. Any unexpected decision you made will most likely count as a creative solution. Pick a scenario where you were pleased with the outcome.
"In my current position we saw a decrease in clients due to a local economic downturn. I recommended to our head office that we begin to generate business outside of our region for the first time in many years. They agreed, and the idea turned things around for us that fiscal year."
"Last week my computer crashed, and it took IT three hours to recover everything. Feeling lost, I said to myself 'Well, what did they do before computers?' To make the best of my time, I took to the file room and started organizing the physical files."
"I once had to deal with a space issue in our warehouse. We arranged and re-arranged several times and could not make it work. I thought outside the box and rented some outside pod storage until we were back to normal inventory levels."
"Recently we needed to create a mentorship program for a client. By my suggestion, we decided to engage local thought leaders as well as aspiring leaders. This approach benefited the community as a whole, and our client was delighted with the result."
"In retail, a customer will approach you with odd requests from time to time. Recently, I had a customer insist on making a return that wasn't even from our store. They were furious that I would not take the return! It turns out; we were running a promotion where if you spent $50, you received a $25 in-store gift card. I suggested to the customer that they purchase the product, from us, that they initially wanted. They would then receive the $25 in-store gift card, and they could still return the original product to the first store. I turned an angry return to a paying customer!"
"In sales, if you cannot think outside the box, and on the fly, you will not succeed. Recently I had a client who wanted a digital service option thrown in that we did not yet have. It was still in development. To offset his disappointment, I asked him if I could give him three months of the service for free on a trial basis, to help us work out the kinks, would he then be happy. He was thrilled, and we had a real-life test subject."
"As a teacher, I often have to think of alternate ways to teach a lesson when some kids aren't picking up the content. I will always have multi-media resources available for my students to support their learning such as educational computer games and interactive online worksheets."
The interviewer would like to know if you discuss creative ideas with your coworkers. Do you use your creative mind with your colleagues to discuss plans and systems in the workplace? Talk to the interviewer about how you have used creative thinking in the workplace.
"I have a policy with my team that if they have an innovative and helpful idea they can bring it to me at any time. If the idea or system is something that I think could work, we then create a plan together to present it to our head office. This policy has generated some powerful ideas in our office over the past three years including a work-share program and some health and safety initiatives."
"I think it is important to discuss work with colleagues in a collaborative nature to encourage all types of ideas to come forth. Often, when people put their heads together, they will create something better than something one individual could have done alone."
"I communicate with my coworkers, subordinates, and supervisor daily. We may not always think up new ideas, but we often discuss "what-if" scenarios."
"My current environment is a collaborative one 99% of the time. Our offices do not have walls, and we often eat lunch together in the boardroom."
"The company which I work for does not have wiggle room for new ideas, or working styles. We are very much mandated to follow scripts and policy to a tee. Our team often wonders how we can better implement certain policies; however, we rarely discuss these as they are not well-received by the head office. I look forward to working in a more receptive environment soon."
"My team collaborates all the time! When one of us closes a huge sale, we send an email to the entire team to let them know how we do it. We can all learn from each other's work methods which are encouraging and helpful."
"Each year at Teacher's Convention we spend two full days learning and attending workshops. I find that after these conventions, myself and my faculty have a new sense of excitement for our jobs and educational styling. This time of year is when we collaborate the most."
The interviewer would like to know how you have encouraged others to think creatively. Encouragement to others is a great skill to possess. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to promote creative ideas in your team members. Here are some ways that you can encourage ideas in others: - Get to know them and what they like to work on - Send an encouraging email letting them know you like their plan or ideas - Publicly praise their efforts - If they are doing a great job, offer them more related opportunities - If you are a leader, then tell them that you like their ideas - Say things like 'Well done' or 'Nice work' on a regular basis - Show that you believe in their quality of work before they even deliver it
"I like to encourage ideas in others by sending them nice emails. I am not one to publicly praise someone, primarily because that would embarrass me, but I will send them a quick note of encouragement."
"I like to encourage other people to be creative in their thinking and present ideas to the company, no matter how off the wall they may seem. Some of our most successful employees are ones who are confident in their ability to bring forward their unique ideas. I encourage participation through an open door policy and strong praise for those who show initiative."
"I try to leave crumbs of knowledge and ideas around the office. You know - things that inspire me like magazines, articles, photographs, and even certain music. These are all great ways to spark conversations and get my marketing team thinking."
"When I hire new people for our sales floor or a new cashier, I will heavily encourage them as they are training through kind words. It's amazing how much confidence you can infuse into a new trainee simply by saying "wow, you are learning so fast!" or "I have yet to train someone who catches on as quickly as you."
"I encourage my sales representatives to tap into the best parts of themselves. It helps to ask probing questions to get them to generate ideas on their own. I have found that by painting a long-term vision for where I want to go, my team will often jump in with creative solutions to get us there."
"As a teacher, I have found that by showing my belief in their quality of work before they even deliver it, my students go into a project much more confident."
The interviewer would like to know about a particular project you have worked on where your creativity was required. How have you implemented creativity in the workplace when a conventional approach was not suitable? Display for the hiring manager how you can think outside of the box when necessary.
"In 2009 our economy suffered, and a lot of businesses were struggling to keep their doors open. At that time, a conventional approach was to take out additional ads on the radio or TV. Social media was starting to become a major advertising outlet - and it was free. I launched a social media campaign that was very successful. We were able to generate new and repeat business while coming in under our advertising budget."
"As an executive assistant, I often have to pull strings, ask for favors, and assume that no is never an answer that I should take. I will bargain with vendors and come up with highly creative solutions at times to make a plan come together. I love the fast pace of it all and the challenge that comes with supporting a high-level executive."
"I recently worked on a project that was ahead of its time and federal guidelines. If you want to achieve something you never have before, you have to do something you have never done. We took an unconventional approach to federal research and licensing technology through the Office of Technology Transfer in a way never done before. It was a necessary step to achieve the bigger picture."
"I was on a marketing team where we had to alter our processes to meet our customer's environmental impact challenge. We had to completely change the way we built their advertising plan, keeping zero waste in mind. It was a fun challenge where our entire campaign was digital."
"Our company has ten stores total. Head office announced a merchandising contest where we all had to come up with a theme and execute it, in the shop front window. Our team decided to take a very unconventional approach and gained inspiration from Anthropologie's memorable store experiences. Our eclectic style won and we all earned a $50 in-store credit, along with bragging rights."
"A conventional approach is rarely suitable for sales - ever! I love to come up with new ways to get my weekly calls in, and I create new phone scripts for myself to keep things interesting for myself and my clients. The original sales scripts provided to me were not effective or creative, so I chose to make my own."
"I often have to work around very tight budgets where a conventional approach is not even an option. When we need supplies, I will ask the parents if they have items they can donate to the school. I will partner with local businesses to see if they have any items they could donate. And, my friend who owns a bookstore has committed to donating five new children's books per month. It makes for great collaboration and networking in the community."
The interviewer would like to know if your creative side has benefitted your employer in any way. Talk to the interviewer about a recent time when you have helped your employer through your creative thinking.
"This past year I have benefited my current employer through my creation of a new sales training program for our sales trainees. It simplified the process and made it much easier to teach our new staff."
"I made a couple of recommendations on planning and organizational apps that we have recently incorporated. Most notable were the use of Google Docs and Trello."
"I'm a creator by nature and constantly thinking up new ways to benefit the organization and improve processes. Most recently, I saw a gap in the new hire training and created a practice to teach new team members the information they need to be equipped and successful on the job. We continue to build upon it with training materials and incorporation of top talent into the program as mentors."
"We had a large client who was not loving the marketing plan that our team presented. One weekend it just hit me that they needed a clean, simple brand strategy that spoke to their millennial audience. I storyboarded my ideas and presented them on Monday to my team. We collectively tweaked areas and presented it the following week. The client loved the new strategy."
"I suggested to my employer that we change our inventory system from Excel to a cloud-based program like AssetPanda. We are currently doing some recon to see what programs are most useful and affordable."
"I recommended to my employer that we begin switching to electric company cars as part of our mandate to help the environment. Many of our clients are very involved in environmental sustainability, so it just made sense for us. Soon, we will be replacing all of our company trucks with the Nissan Leaf. It will help our brand but also eliminate the need to give gas cards to all of our territory sales reps."
"This year I incorporated a morning fitness option for students who wanted to become more active. With kids getting so much screen time these days it is important to me that they take the time, every day, to move. Kids have the option of coming to school 20 minutes early every day. I lead them in a variety of stretches, and then we play fun games like dodgeball, soccer, and flag football."
Talk to the interviewer about any interest that you have in creative activities and how you have implemented your creative desires in the workplace. Even if you do not consider yourself to be a 'creative person,' there is a significant change that you have made creative minded decisions in your career.
"I do consider myself to be a creative individual. One example of this would be the telephone sales scripts that I crafted for our inside sales team. They were lively and effective, and sales increased by 23% in the first 90 days of implementation."
"I am someone who alternates back and forth with the right/left brain, but I will always consider myself a very creative person. I admire the creativity and unconventional thinking in business and arts."
"That's an interesting question for me because I have never considered myself creative in the traditional sense of being artistic. I am, however, a very creative individual when it comes to new ways to motivate my team."
"I consider myself creative! I have had a flair for the arts and thinking outside of the box, ever since I was a child. My mother says I danced before I could walk and I always loved to take on new creative projects."
"Having been a musician all my life, I do believe that I am a creative person. I grew up playing the piano and still practice a couple of times per week."
"I am creative in the sense that I am great at seeing all sides of a negotiation, I can use creativity to close a deal, and I am a solid writer. With that said, give me a paintbrush, and I will have no idea what to do. I suppose creativity comes in all forms!"
"Yes, I do consider myself to be a creative individual. I will often work with my students on hands-on projects. I believe in the use of multi-media to teach, and learn."
Using your creative mind, have you ever introduced an employer to a new product or service opportunity? Talk to the interviewer about a time when you have created a new product or service. If you have not created a new product or service, perhaps you have had a great idea that you presented. You can use an example from school as well if you have just started your career.
"In my previous role I was fortunate enough to introduce my company to the idea of a gold level service where, in addition to our general customer service, we added on additional options. Our customer base responded very positively, and we kept the program running for a few years."
"I am newer to my career as an administrative assistant and have not yet found myself comfortable enough to offer a new service idea. I am creative minded, though! As an avid nature lover and lover of cooking, I was tired of carrying all of my cooking tools and equipment in and out of camping sites. I created a Camping Kitchen Kit to hold cooking and serving for up to six people. It is an easy to carry bag that makes life much easier!"
"I created a new service manual for our team, in PDF form, which had infographic styling. Making it easy to read meant that my production team paid better attention to the content inside. I am now working on a manual for our QA team."
"I create new services and product ideas every day! As a content marketer, my brain never sleeps. I am always generating ideas to use now, or in the future."
"I created a Facebook group recently, geared solely to swap clothing. It's a closed group for those interested in specific brands. So far we have over 200 local members!"
"Growing up, a lot of my neighbors had pets. I started a neighborhood dog walking, sitting, and vacation service in high school. It was highly lucrative in the summer. I made some money and helped my neighbors enjoy their vacations. I think this was when my parent knew I was gearing up for a career in sales come adulthood!"
"I recently created a Twitter account for my class so that parents could follow along with us throughout the day, and interact with their kids. We post funny pictures, tweet shout-outs to the parents, and ask questions to educational influencers. It's been a great way to blend education with technology. The kids love it."
The interviewer would like to know how you express your creativity, outside of the workplace. A genuinely creative minded person will have outside activities aside from what's happening in the workplace. Tell the interviewer about the variety of ways in which you express your creativity.
"Outside of work I like to attend dance classes and I also attend the odd paint and sip wine nights at a local wine shop. I also enjoy reading as a way of nurturing my creative side."
"As an avid reader, I also explore writing. Cooking is also art for me, and I try to incorporate creativity into the fun meals I prepare for family and friends."
"It's important to me that I do something creative a few times a week so that my interests are vast and not only work-related. I am currently teaching myself PhotoShop. Primarily to put my friends' heads on hilarious photos but either way, it makes me laugh, and I love it."
"Outside of work I love to explore my creative side. I practice photography for fun and take painting and sculpting classes. I do love the arts."
"I am huge into fashion and recently started a fashion page on Instagram. I curate new outfits and create fun fashion-inspired flat lays."
"I have a lot of energy, so I like to bring out my creative side on the weekends by attending local art events, going to the theater, or trying a new paint and sip class."
"I play the violin in a community orchestra and teach private lessons to local kids. This activity is one I have participated in for the past four years."
The interviewer would like to know how you handle rejection when you present a solution at work. Putting yourself out there with new ideas can be intimidating, and we all want to be accepted. Talk to the interviewer about how you would handle the feelings that come with having your opinion rejected.
"A couple of years ago I made a recommendation for scheduling that would have included some split shifts. The result was less overtime and reduced expenses for the company. My colleagues were unhappy with the idea of split shifts. I was able to see their perspective which made it much easier to bounce back from the rejection. My overall attitude is, you win some - you lose some!"
"I recently asked my boss if we could implement a couple of workplace planning tools that would make it easier for myself to connect with the cross-departmental teams. I was already familiar with the tool, from using in a previous role. However, my boss prefers to run the business very lean and does not want to spend any money. It was unfortunate, but I understand that some people simply like things how they are."
"I am often creating unique solutions or ideas in the workplace. Last year we launched an employee satisfaction survey. After reading the results, it was clear to me the work that needed to take place. We needed to train our associates better, and further equip our leaders with best practices to ensure their team's success. I suggested implementing them right away. Leadership rejected the ideas citing they wanted them to keep process simple. We did end up implementing some of the ideas over time. It was a learning experience for me on how to better gain buy-in from my peers before introducing new ideas."
"At times I will have funny slogan ideas that I think we could incorporate into a project. I keep a little notebook full of weird ideas. Some of them stick, and some of them do not. This life is one of a marketing professional!"
"I once requested a 'suggestion box' when we experienced high turnover and employee morale issues. Ironically, management rejected my suggestion. The leadership team thought it would just turn into a complaint box. I was disappointed, but I did not let that deter me from continuing in my pursuit to help find a solution to our turnover issue. Instead, I verbally checked in with the employees, creating a safe place for them to provide feedback and suggestions."
"I asked my boss if we could change the sales script slightly, as some of the wording was outdated. Unfortunately, he was offended, since he wrote the script....twenty years ago. I didn't take it to heart, as he's a bit old school; however, I am hoping that he will let the idea simmer and revisit it at a later time."
"Hoping to take my class to the museum to see a recent art installation I recently put in a request for a class field trip. The principal felt that the school could not justify the cost compared to the learning opportunity. I was disappointed because I knew it would be an excellent experience for the students. As a workaround, I sent a memo to the parents notifying them of this new exhibition, and how it related to our current social studies topic, in the hopes, they would take their children on the weekend."
Are you given the creative freedom to improve existing processes? Talk to the interviewer about your ability to take an existing process and develop it creatively. If you do not have a work-related example, think back to your time in school.
"Last month my supervisor asked me to take our existing sales training package and improve it. My goal was to make the system more engaging for recruits. Once we implemented my ideas, we increased our new trainee retention rate by 16%. I was quite proud of what my creativity could do!"
"I do not go into a position looking to make changes for the sake of change but, as an executive assistant, I do monitor processes and look for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Recently I switched us to Google calendar so that we could more easily share our time and availability. It was a small tweak, but it changed the game for the executive and me."
"There are so many great business practices out there that there is not always a need to reinvent the wheel. I took a "touch base" practice we used to get a pulse of the team and customized it for a field-based corporate sales group to build better relationships with them. It has been effective and fun!"
"In marketing, we are always changing processes. I recently changed our morning storyboarding sessions to be verbal downloads where we could talk about our weekends, what the highlights were, and why. I find that my team can be even more creative when they feel a connection with each other. They are less inhibited."
"We used to have a 'returns binder' where we had to track all customer returns by hand and then fax the sheet to the head office every Saturday. I felt it was an ancient process so I created Google form that we could email instead. The process was so helpful that my head office incorporated it into every store."
"In sales, very few processes are evergreen so great sales professionals are often looking for ways to make a sale happen faster, smoother, or better. I decided to move my call tracking sheet to my phone and download it into Evernote so that I had it with me, even when I wasn't in the office. If I am stuck at a red light, I will try to handsfree call a client from the list. There is no waking opportunity that I want to miss!"
"The math textbook provided to me to work out of when I started teaching in this district was incredibly outdated. The photos were from the 1980's and the language used were examples that kids these day's didn't understand. I mean, what is a typewriter, right?! I found an excellent online resource where I could use free worksheets and popular videos. The kids respond much better to this tool."
We all have the opportunity to perform a creative task, whether we realize it or not. Perhaps you were a receptionist at our previous job, and you creatively organized the company's front desk by using color-coded folders. If you were an accountant, talk about how you restructured the workflow for a client and how it saved you hours of work on their audit.
"My previous employer wanted to think of ways to generate more attention online and gather a stronger following and more brand recognition. I started an e-newsletter that, after just six months, had over 30,000 subscribers. It was a great success."
"I once worked in an office where a primary goal was to reduce our environmental footprint. It was a lot of fun to find new ways to help the environment, and we ended up cutting some costs as well."
"Recently I implemented a 'late fund' because my team was consistently running behind. We had a jar, and you had to put $1 in the pot for every minute you were tardy. At the end of the month, I chose a charity to donate the money too. It was lighthearted, but it made my team more aware of their timing and that being late to work, and essential meetings affected everyone."
"I recently worked on a team to create a website for a global powerhouse organization. We sought to find gaps in communications across the organization and bridge those gaps through the new online tool. We were able to shape the structure and make it our own as we saw necessary to fit the needs of the business."
"I had the opportunity to join a focus group, initiated by my current company's head office. We had the opportunity to voice our opinion on upcoming lines, colors, and pricing. It was such a great experience, and it made me want to become a buyer, down the road."
"I recently worked on the launch of a new product that has never been in our market before. The sales team worked alongside the marketing team, and we collaborated more than ever before. I came to appreciate the work that a marketing team does, and got a bit of an itch myself for writing sales copy!"
"Luckily for me, I have the opportunity to work with children every day. The minds of these children are so active that you cannot help but be driven to create. Currently, we are using our knowledge of ratios, base, area, and perimeter to make a model scale of our town. I found the idea on YouTube and think it's the most hands-on, creative project that I have had my students participate in so far."
If an interviewer asks you any questions related to how they can help you, then you should rejoice! Companies who ask potential employees what they can do for them, are often a flatter organizational structure and often fabulous companies to join. Think of a time when your creative juices were flowing. What were the surroundings, or which resources were available to you? Be sure to thank the interviewer for a question related to your needs!
"I appreciate your concern for my needs! The best way to inspire my creative side is to provide me with the space that I need to work. I come up with my best ideas when I can brainstorm and work through my ideas on paper, or on my computer."
"I appreciate you asking this question! I tend to concentrate heavily on my work, and sometimes I forget to take breaks. If you can encourage me to take my breaks to refresh my mind, I can create some excellent and creative work!"
"It's great that you are concerned with the creativity of your employees. I encourage creativity in my team by asking them to bring me their ideas - fun, weird, challenging, and clever. All of them! If you can do the same for me, that is when I am at my creative best."
"Thank you for asking! For me, a flexible work schedule and a moveable workspace are all factors that allow me to be at my most creative. For instance, in my current role, we can start late and stay late, or come in early to have a quiet coffee and get our day going. Also, I am not chained to one specific desk. Our workspaces flow all throughout the office."
"I love to exercise my creativity, so - thank you for asking! I am at my best, creatively speaking when a team mentality is encouraged. This mentality could mean group huddles at the beginning of the day, group coffee breaks, or after-work drinks."
"I am my most creative when I have the resources that I need to get my job done. These resources could mean technological, or even access to a mentor, and continued education opportunities. Thanks for asking! I highly value creative ideas in the workplace."
"I realize that the public school system has limited resources; however, one of the best ways that I get my creativity flowing is through mixed media and other visual aids. I like to introduce these aids into my classroom for my students and encourage their creativity, in return."