After recently completing the process of A.R.C.H.I.T.E.C.T – The Career Search, below are answers to the question — What do you look for when hiring a new designer?  The answers below are from professionals from within architecture that have experience hiring. As such, you may wish to heed their wisdom. 

I look for a strong portfolio of work.  — Thomas Fowler IV, AIA, NCARB, DPACSA Professor, California Polytechnic State University—San Luis Obispo

I look for communication skills, both verbal and graphic. I look for confidence, a broad range of skills, and team spirit. I look for evidences of volunteerism and leadership. — Grace H. Kim, AIA, Principal, Schemata Workshop, Inc.

I look for incredible talent and ambition and for the ability to listen and to work with our team. — William J. Carpenter, Ph.D., FAIA, President, Lightroom

I look for someone who is motivated, eager, and not afraid to get their hands dirty and is also not afraid to ask questions. The best architects ask the best questions. They must be able to communicate well and speak to the power of their ideas. They need to have a vision, but still show humility. They need to be able to demonstrate that they can work with others in a positive and collaborative manner. — Robert D. Fox, AIA, IIDA, Principal, FOX Architects

Because young practitioners often have a considerable wealth of knowledge in digital technology that can be useful to the development of a practice, I recruit individuals with expertise in a range of digital tools who also have excellent visual, oral, and written communication skills because they add value to the firm. — Kathryn T. Prigmore, FAIA, Associate Director, Shalom Baranes Associates

Someone who has strong personal skills to deal with other employees and clients, possesses the fundamentals needed to be an architect such as drawing, drafting, and CAD but most importantly a well-rounded individual — John W. Myefski, AIA, Principal, Myefski Architects, Inc.

Passion and commitment to the profession.  A desire to learn and work collaboratively.  We seek out bright, motivated individuals who take problem solving seriously.  The hard skills required such as rendering and drafting are secondary to their attitude but we would not hire someone without a strong portfolio showing graphic sophistication. — Lynsey J. G. Sorrell, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Bureau Gemmell

It is a given that the individual must possess the basic technical skills in and innate capacity for design.

What is more intriguing to me is a team player – someone who gathers inspiration from others and strives to achieve a feeling of synergy with the team.  Having a good work ethic, a strong understanding of building materials and methods, and an interest in business practices is a plus as well.  — Kevin Sneed, AIA, IIDA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C, Partner / Senior Director of Architecture, OTJ Architects, LLC

We look for different attributes for different skill positions.  Not everyone is destined to be a designer, and nor should we all.  There are many rewarding ways to find your voice in this amazing profession.

For a designer specifically, we most often look for a special combination of passion, confidence, talent, and attitude.  We want our designers to have a fire in the belly for architecture and this can trump portfolio. As we work in collaborative teams throughout design, we want designers that are passionate about design, that communicate ideas effectively and whose attitude plays well with others.

We look for designers that engage, and inspire. — Shannon Kraus, FAIA, MBA, Principal and Senior Vice-President, HKS Architects

A designer needs to have a thought process unlike the typical individual. A continuous reply of “what if we do this?” should be the ingrained attitude for any designer or design challenge. An individual that is a quick learner is ideal due to the rapidly changing technologies and products in the profession. — Kathy Denise Dixon, AIA, NOMA, K. Dixon Architecture

When I am hiring new designers I am looking to see if the individuals present themselves clearly, confidently, and can articulate design concepts.  I look to see if they present themselves professionally, if they have a personality and attitude that will fit in with our organization. — Sean M. Stadler, AIA, LEED AP, Design Principal, WDG Architecture, PLLC

I look at how the applicant lives. I get nervous whenever I get an applicant that has wild theoretical visions for how others should live but cannot imagine a similar world in which they themselves would reside. Consistency in this is the most basic tenant professional honesty. Next up would be the ability to draw and paint what they see. This is the most tangible sign that they are careful observers how others behave, conduct commerce, and interact with one another. Finally is communication. Our art is as much science as it is story telling. — Joseph Nickol, AICP, LEED AP BD+C, Urbanist, Urban Design Associates

It lies in the ‘other’. 

Beyond the specific skill sets of technical and building proficiency of the position, we seek out the other latent passions that a person may which would be influential to the project at hand.  We have hired designers with backgrounds in social work in LGBTQ communities, graphic design, anthropology that have been a compliment to our skills and made the project process more robust and enjoyable. — Katherine Darnstadt, AIA LEED AP BD+C, Founder and Principal Architect, Latent Design

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