As part of our regular blog calendar our Monographs postings take an inquisitive approach, offering more questions than they answer in the hope that these questions can catalyze useful thoughts amongst our team and our industry. In this post we are exploring questions about the hiring practices of architectural and interiors services firms and asking, how can the hiring process be improved in the firm environment, or should the process be redesigned entirely?
At DBI we read a lot on the subject of Recruiting and Talent Management, David Brown even recently wrote about the one tool every design firm must have (https://dbifirm.com/the-one-tool-every-design-firm-must-have/) in their hiring process. Unfortunately, one thing that we don’t see very often is architectural and interior design services firms taking an introspective look at the process by which they identify, vet, and evaluate talent prior to the yes/no decision of deciding to make an offer of employment to a candidate.

Some firms might be consistent in some elements of the hiring process, they always ask all candidates the exact same set of questions, have the exact same hiring team members interview the candidates, and evaluate in ways that mitigate biases. However, these same firms often still admit that the process could be better, the result of their process still sometimes leads to hires that don’t pan out. What if design firms could interview candidates in a more holistic way? What could design firms do to better vet candidates’ capabilities within the context of their culture and the specific type of work that the firm does and needs the candidate to be able to do? Is it possible to replicate the process and environment of working within the firm? If it is, how close to reality can we make these hiring processes and the environment in which candidates exhibit their skills and abilities?

In an article (https://qz.com/362958/hiring-in-tech-should-prioritize-skill-not-charisma/) discussing recent innovation in tech hiring processes, Thomas Ptacek mentions how tech firms are designing tests for candidates in order to understand how they think about the work that the firm needs to have done. This article brings up several useful questions that we would pose to the design services firms we work with: How can our clients develop a method to allow candidates to exhibit their capabilities in-person? Do our clients evaluate what is working in their hiring process and what isn’t? Are they adaptable in their ability to add value to their hiring practice and remove liability? How can we help candidates be their authentic selves, so that both they and we can understand how they fit into the firms we work with?

These are all questions that we ask when working with our clients, some of these ideas are within reach for our clients, and some are not. However, every one of our clients understands the overarching question that serves as motivation for all of these questions: What is it worth to improve the hiring practices of the firm?