With graduation this month for the most part and many graduates seeking their first professional position after graduation, I thought I would share answers to the question – What do you look for when hiring a new designer?

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, Professor, Southern Polytechnic State University; 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

Professionalism (organizational and communication skills), how do the individuals pursue their work, interest, design capability or potential, and computer literacy with hand sketching / drawing as a bonus. Broad design perspective. Level of artistry and craft in presentation.

Mary Kay Lanzillotta, FAIA, Partner, Hartman-Cox 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, Senior Project Manager, HDR Architecture, Inc.

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.

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, Associate Principal, Arel Architects, Inc.

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

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 complement 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

Enjoy graduation and best in your first position!

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