Do you know what a recruiter values in a job interview? We have talked with Lisa Barrow, Chief Recruiter for Kada Recruiting, about how recruiters evaluate candidates during a job interview.

What are the main red flags a recruiter sees in a candidate?

People who can do everything.  While being well-rounded is great, if your approach on your resume and/or profile is “yes, I can do that” to every little thing, it can seem a bit desperate and that you aren’t skilled in any given thing.  I see candidates do this because they’re afraid to knock themselves out of an opportunity, but they end up not being strong enough for any role with this approach.  This is a common mistake made and sometimes a red flag.

How do you recommend candidates to position themselves when applying for a creative job?

A portfolio site is a must have for a creative role.  The best sites are custom sites (built from scratch or with WordPress or similar tool), though at a minimum you need to have your work on something like Behance or Cargo Collective.  It also needs to be clear what your involvement was in the work.  Was it direction or production, did you have involvement in programming a website or was it the design?  Position yourself to showcase your skills and involvement of the work.  

Once you’re in the interview phase of a role, if you have work samples that you can’t share on your site, but can share one on one, offer those up if they’re relevant.  People understand that there is sometime client work or pitch decks that aren’t appropriate for a portfolio site, but those things can really showcase your skills.

It’s okay to have a “creative” resume where you use your creative skills to make it visually appealing, but if you’re applying on a company site that is through an application process (particularly for larger orgs), then you may want to use a more traditional text format, as it will be uploaded into their system and likely parsed, so you don’t want any of your experience to get lost in the process.  

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What is the one thing that makes a difference between a successful candidate and a not successful one?

My favorite note on candidates is that they’re “organized in thought”.  What I mean by this is that they can clearly articulate what they’ve done, what they’re good at and where they’d like to be.  They’re not afraid to give clear examples of their success.  Their portfolio sites are organized and easy to navigate.  

What are the most important trends in recruitment?

I’m seeing a swing back from all things digital to a mix of traditional and digital.  Digital media is no longer a separate skill, but something that is intertwined into everything.  

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What’s your worst/funniest experiences with candidates?

I’ll change this to most interesting place I’ve recruited someone.  It’s a lesson of always keeping your best foot forward and the fact that there is opportunity absolutely everywhere.  

I was lounging around on a Sunday, indulging myself in HGTV’s Lakefront Bargain Hunt.  They always say the job titles of the home buyers, and low and behold, there was a Creative Director looking at lakefront homes in the Southeast.  Being that I was currently recruiting for a Creative Director, I immediately took to the Internet with the first name, title and location of the buyer and found him on LinkedIn.  I sent him a message congratulating him on the new home and the show and shared the job that I was recruiting for.  He was interested and we set up an interview.  


Lisa Barrow is the Chief Recruiter for Kada Recruiting.  Kada is a full service recruiting firm located in Charleston, South Carolina.  Kada was founded on the belief that work matters and people are more than words on a resume, just as jobs are more than a list of required skills. Kada Recruiting is a leading successful recruiting agency bringing together digital marketing talent in the creative and digital media and marketing space.

Follow Lisa at @barrowkada on Twitter and Linkedin