How to hire a graphic designer

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How to hire a graphic designer

Our blog How to hire a graphic designer
How to hire a graphic designer

If you're looking to hire a graphic designer, it's important to make sure you make the best hire possible. Since most of a graphic designer's work will be customer-facing, this hire will have a huge impact on the way your customers perceive your brand.

If you hire the wrong graphic designer, potential customers may be put off by the look and feel of your marketing materials. This can damage your brand's credibility and lead people to choose one of your competitors instead.

You can avoid this by making sure you hire a designer who:

  • knows their tools,
  • understands fundamental design principles, and 
  • is aligned with your company's values.

To help you do that, this guide will cover the skills a good graphic designer will need to possess, a sample job description you can use to source candidates, suggestions about where to find graphic designers, how pre-employment skills testing will enable you to find the best candidate, the interview questions and tests you should use to identify the top candidates, and a suggested salary range.

Graphic design skills

Graphic design skills

Some of the most important graphic design skills include:

Communication. Your graphic designer will need to communicate with other members of the design team and other departments (e.g., marketing) as well. So it’s important that to find candidates who can:

  • Understand and interpret written communication
  • Listen actively and interpret non-verbal cues
  • Clarify next steps and summarize messages effectively

Attention to detail. It’s important to find a graphic designer who can ensure that your graphics are on-brand and error free. Candidates with attention to detail should be able to:

  • Find differences in images
  • Distinguish design details
  • Identify patterns

Time management. To ensure that deadlines are met, you’ll need to find a graphic designer with excellent time management skills. This includes:

  • The ability to prioritize tasks
  • Plan for the completion of tasks
  • Execute their plan

Technical skills. Most graphic design work is done through the use of software. Look for candidates with experience using the tools that your team relies on. For example:

  • Canva
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop.

Problem solving. No matter the role, everyone runs into problems occasionally. Your graphic designer should be able to:

  • Adjust their schedule based on emergencies that may arise
  • Interpret data and apply logic to make decisions
  • Prioritize and apply order based on a given set of rules

Teamwork. Graphic design is typically done as part of a team. Whether it’s the design team, the marketing team, or multiple departments, if your graphic designer will be working with a team, it’s important to find someone who can:

  • Collaborate effectively with a team.
  • Fulfill commitments made to other team members.
  • Be responsible for their duties within the team.

Ad design. If your graphic designer will be designing creative for use in ad campaigns, they will need to understand:

  • The dimensions needed for different ad formats and platforms.
  • The rules that apply to creative for different formats and platforms.
  • Best practices for creating compelling ad creative.

Typography. The ability to arrange type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing is crucial. Without it, your graphics will not be compelling or understandable. That’s why it’s essential to find a graphic designer who can:

  • Choose fonts that work together harmoniously.
  • Align and style text so that it is on-brand.
  • Develop an information hierarchy that brings the proper amount of focus to each part of the copy.

Graphic designer job description

When hiring a graphic designer, a well-written graphic designer job description is important because it helps potential candidates understand the skills, strengths, and experience you are looking for in your candidates.

For example, if you don’t make it clear that you require a graphic designer who knows how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, you may find yourself sorting through a pile of resumes from candidates who only know how to use Canva.

A good job description will keep you and potential candidates from wasting time. It will reduce the number of applications you receive from unqualified applicants, and ensure that those who do apply know what to highlight when applying for your graphic designer opening.

How to write a good graphic designer job description

Before you begin writing a job description for your graphic designer opening, think about what you’re looking for in a designer.

  • Will the person be working with people on your team or independently? Working with a team and working independently require many overlapping skills, but there also skills unique to each.
  • Does your team use certain graphic design software? If you need a graphic designer who has experience with specific software (e.g., Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop), you’ll want to include this in the job description.
  • Would you rather work with a freelancer, an agency, or hire a new employee? Many freelancers and agencies search  job postings when looking for new clients. If you’re only interested in hiring someone in-house, make that clear in the job description.
  • What level of experience do you need? In general, the more experience you require, the more you should expect to pay. So you probably won’t want to hire someone with an MFA in graphic design when a self-taught designer could get the job done.
  • What sort of projects will your graphic designer be working on? Different graphic designers have different strengths and weaknesses. By understanding what projects you need your designer to complete, you can call out these skills in the job description.

We’ve written a sample graphic designer job description and included the qualifications and characteristics of the ideal candidate. You can use this job description template as a starting point to create a graphic designer job description for your opening.

Graphic designer job description template

[YOUR COMPANY NAME] is looking for a creative graphic designer who can develop compelling graphics for multiple channels.

What is the role of a graphic designer?

As [COMPANY NAME]’s graphic designer, you will be responsible for all visual aspects of our marketing and advertising efforts.

Your graphics should be compelling and clear. You will need to have the creative ability to translate our messaging into a visual format that matches our brand.

Graphic design job responsibilities

The graphic designer will be responsible for creating graphics, logos, and advertisements for the business.

This includes:

  1. Creating graphic designs for marketing materials
  2. Creating logos and branding designs
  3. Designing social media images and digital marketing assets
  4. Creating graphics for print, digital, and social media
  5. Conducting marketing research and competitor analyses
  6. Establish and follow brand guidelines
  7. Creating digital graphics for all online and social media channels
  8. Optimizing graphics for print and web
  9. Executing multiple projects at a time
  10. Completing all projects in a timely manner

Graphic design job requirements

  • 2 years of graphic design experience (or equivalent)
  • Proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite (includes Design, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator)
  • Strong understanding of color theory and typography
  • Understanding of marketing and branding
  • Ability to work independently and meet deadlines
  • Self-motivated with excellent organizational skills
  • Understanding of the design process and the ability to execute
  • Ability to take direction and work well with others
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to create designs for print and digital

Where to find graphic designers

Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to source some candidates. Of course, there are your standard job boards like Indeed and Monster. But when it comes to graphic designers, there are many more specific options.

The best option will depend on whether you’re looking for an employee or a freelancer and whether you need ongoing graphic design support or someone to help with a one-time project.

Where to find freelancer graphic designers

  • UpWork. Thousands of graphic designers from around the world are on UpWork looking for work. Since many of these designers are in countries that may have a lower cost of living than where your business is headquartered, you can often get better rates than you would with a local designer. Posting a job is free.
  • Guru. As of this writing, Guru is host to 268,474 freelancers offering graphic design services. Posting a job is free.
  • Dribbble’s Freelance Project Board. You can post one project a month for free on Dribbbble’s Freelance Project Board. 
  • Fiverr. If you have a fairly simple project (e.g., some social media graphics), Fiverr is worth checking out. The quality varies, but there’s a “Pro Services” filter you can use to identify designers vetted by Fiverr for quality and service.
  • 99designs. If you’d like to know what you’re getting before you commit to pay, 99designs has a contest option that allows you to share your creative brief with their design community. Then, designers will submit their ideas and you’ll pick your favorite.

Where to source graphic designers for a full- or part-time role

  • Dribbble’s Job Board.Job postings on Dribbbble’s Job Board cost $249, but the company says “listings receive an average of 1.5K targeted clicks per month.”
  • The Design Kids. For $250, The Design Kids will post your job on their job board for 2 weeks and share it on their Instagram account of over 250,000 followers through a post and a story.
  • AIGA Design Jobs. AIGA Design Jobs is an exclusive job board for design-related vacancies. Postings cost $225 for 45 days, but you can get a discount on multiple postings. Your post will be promoted to 18,000 designers on AIGA.org, AIGA chapter websites, and AIGA’s social media profiles.

Pre-employment tests for graphic designers

Once applications begin to roll in, it can be challenging to evaluate graphic designer candidates—especially if you don't have much relevant experience in the area. Compounding the problem is that many talented graphic designers don't have an educational background you can rely on to shortlist qualified applicants.

Since so many great graphic designers are self-taught, if you rely on educational experience or even work experience, you may miss out on some great candidates.

Fortunately, skills tests can help you test some of the relevant skills even if you don't know anything about graphic design.

Pre-employment skills testing will:

  • Hire the best candidates. Pre-employment skills testing identifies the top candidates right off the bat so you can make the best hiring decisions possible.
  • Increase your hiring efficiency. When you use pre-employment skills testing at the top of the hiring funnel, you won't have to go through hundreds of resumes (many of which are typically submitted by resume spammers who didn’t even read the job description). You'll quickly see whether each candidate has the skills needed for the role.
  • Reduce the impact of hiring bias. With skills testing,  you will be shortlisting candidates based on their skill level instead of gut instinct. This leaves less room for unconscious biases to come into play. This will lead to a more diverse candidate pool and ensure that you’re finding the best person for every job.
  • Reduce turnover. By hiring qualified candidates who align with your companies values and the behaviors necessary to be successful in the role, you'll make better hires who will stay with your company longer.
  • Save your company money. Since you'll be starting off with a pool of qualified candidates, you'll reduce the risk of making a hire that will cost your team time and money on training, paying, and replacing a mishire.

Here’s how to make a great assessment for a graphic designer.

How to build a skills assessment for graphic design candidates

Extensive research has been done to understand what hiring methods actually predict job performance. One of the most important studies in this area is Frank Schmidt’s meta-analysis of a century’s worth of workplace productivity data. 

The table below shows the results of this study: the predictive validity of some commonly used test types, ranked by effectiveness.

Most effective hiring selection practices

Based on this study, we recommend that employers consider using multiple test types when they're deciding how to hire a graphic designer. Our large, ever-growing Test Library offers a wide selection of tests with which to build your assessment.

You can add up to five tests to an assessment. The recommended tests below include a mix of tests to help you identify the top candidates for your graphic designer role.

Depending on the duties you assign to your graphic designer, we recommend choosing five of the following tests.

  • Communication. This test evaluates candidates' skills in communicating clearly and effectively using professional etiquette. The test assesses candidates in both written and verbal communication, as well as non-verbal cues and active listening.
  • Attention to detail (visual). This test evaluates’ candidates ability to pay attention to visual details and information. This test helps you identify candidates who can pay close attention to visual cues and can handle visual material carefully and thoroughly.
  • Time management. This test evaluates’ candidates ability to pay attention to visual details and information. This test helps you identify candidates who can pay close attention to visual cues and can handle visual material carefully and thoroughly.
  • UX/UI design
  • Adobe Illustrator. This test evaluates candidates’ technical knowledge of the software and their ability to create designs for both print and the web. This test helps you identify designers who are well-versed in Adobe Illustrator and use it effectively.
  • Problem solving. This test evaluates candidates' ability to define problems and analyze data and textual information to make correct decisions. This test helps you identify candidates who use analytical skills to evaluate and respond to complex situations.
  • Adobe Photoshop. This test evaluates candidates’ technical skills in Photoshop, focusing on their ability to manipulate and combine images with text and other elements to create artwork for a variety of purposes and media.
  • Culture add. This test assesses how a candidate’s values, behaviors, and interests align with your company values and the behaviors and activities that would make your ideal hire successful in a specific role, based on a customized survey you fill out.

Save time with custom questions

With TestGorilla’s custom questions, you can ask your candidates questions that aren’t covered on the tests. 

Here are a few ways you can use custom questions to find the best graphic designer for your opening.

  • Collect candidate portfolios with a file upload question.
  • Collect candidate resumes with a file upload question.
  • Get a better sense of your candidate’s enthusiasm for graphic design with a video response question that asks them to talk about the project they’re most proud of.

You might also ask:

  • What graphic design software are you most familiar with?
  • How do you handle graphic designer's block?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to manage multiple projects at once. How did you juggle competing priorities?

Qualifying questions

If a candidate isn’t a good fit, you can save them time by including qualifying questions at the beginning of the assessment. If their answer indicates that they aren’t qualified for the role, they will be notified that they don’t meet the minimum requirements.

You might ask:

  • Are you currently authorized to work in the United States?
  • Do you have at least two years of graphic design experience?
  • Do you have at least one year of experience with Adobe Photoshop?

Graphic designer interview questions

If you're hiring a graphic designer, here are some interview questions you should ask your candidates.

  1. Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback on one of your designs. How did you respond?
  2. What is your process when designing a ____________?
  3. What is your favorite type of project to work on?
  4. Do you have experience working in our industry?
  5. Do you work well with others?
  6. How would you describe your design style?
  7. What do you like most about working in design?
  8. What is your favorite or least favorite design trend? Why?
  9. What is your favorite design resource? Why?
  10. What do you think is the best part of working in design?

Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback on one of your designs. How did you respond?

A good graphic designer needs to be able to handle negative feedback in a professional manner. By asking for a specific example of a time when the candidate received negative feedback, you can get a better idea of how they handle criticism. 

Listen to see if the candidate was able to take criticism and use it to improve their work on the project.

What is your process when designing a ____________?

A good graphic designer should know what steps they take when designing a logo, a social media graphic, or whatever they’ll be working on. The more information they can provide you with about their process, the better. 

Listen to see if the candidate understands the importance of research, concepting, sketching, and revision.

What is your favorite type of project to work on?

A graphic designer who enjoys their job and takes pride in their work will be more engaged on any project you hire them for. Listen to see if the designer you're interviewing enjoys working on the sorts of projects you’ll need them to focus on.

Do you have experience working in our industry?

You want a designer who can understand the needs of your type of business. So, ideally, your new graphic designer will have experience designing for companies in your industry. For example, if your company sells construction equipment, a designer with experience in fashion or retail might not be a good fit.

But fundamental design principles are consistent across industries, so even if the candidate doesn’t have experience in your industry, listen to see if they understand what your business needs in a graphic designer.

Do you work well with others?

Interaction with clients and coworkers is an important part of being a successful graphic designer. It’s important that the person you hire can work with a team. You might want to ask some specific questions about times in the past when they have worked with a team.

Then ask about the benefits and challenges they faced when on that team.

How would you describe your graphic design style?

A graphic designer's design style will affect the look and feel of their work. You want to know if the designer you're interviewing has an established design style that matches your company's needs.

What do you like most about working in graphic design?

Every graphic designer is different and every graphic design job is different. Listen to see if the things they enjoy most about graphic design line up with the things they’ll be doing on the job.

What is your favorite or least favorite graphic design trend? Why?

A good graphic designer should stay up to date on design trends. They should be aware of the latest design trends and techniques. Listen to see if they have a thoughtful answer to this question.

What is your favorite design resource? Why?

A good graphic designer will keep up-to-date on design trends and resources. Listen to see what designers they admire, what blogs they read, and whether or not they seem to be focused on continuing to improve as a designer.

What do you think is the best part of working in design?

A good graphic designer will be passionate about their work. This question will help you see if the candidate is excited about their career.

Listen to see if they are enthusiastic about their job and if they seem to enjoy the responsibilities that you will need them to perform.

How much does a graphic designer cost?

The amount you can expect to pay a graphic designer will depend on their experience, education and what their responsibilities will be. According to Salary.com, the salary for graphic designers ranges from $44,658 to $52,549, but there are many factors that can lead to salaries outside this range.

Some of the factors affecting salary are:

  • Experience with in-demand software
  • Cost of living in the candidate’s location
  • Education or training in in-demand skills

If your offer will come in on the lower end of the range, don’t give up. You may be able to compensate by offering great benefits or other perks.

Find your next graphic designer faster and without bias

Job postings for graphic designers can receive hundreds of resumes (or more!) so it's important to have a process in place to efficiently separate qualified candidates from those who don't have the skills necessary to be successful in the role.

With pre-employment skills testing, you can have candidates who are interested in your graphic designer opening take a skills assessment at the start of the hiring process. Each candidates' proficiency in the necessary skills will be calculated in real-time, so you can narrow down your candidate pool to the most qualified applicants before you even look at a single resume.

Start a free trial of TestGorilla today to find the best talent faster and bias-free.

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