Our working environment is changing more and more. While in some industries operations and processes are fully standardized in order to always obtain the same result, in many other industries the opposite is the case. Economy becomes more and more dependent on innovation and new ideas. Innovation cycles are becoming shorter and competitors know how to challenge you. Without creativity, no innovation, without innovation no (economic) future. The rise and fall of a company significantly depend on the creative potential of their workforce. But how does creativity differ from intelligence? Is it just like any other recruiting trend? And how can you measure your candidates’ creativity?

Are creative people better than smart people?

In personnel diagnostics, intelligence used to be considered as a characteristic to predict future performance.

The importance of creativity becomes perfectly clear when looking at German economy, for instance: Arts and creative industries are very much influencing German gross value creation, ranging right after mechanical engineering and automotive industries. However, one should not only apply the benefits of creative industries to the creative industry itself (such as advertising agencies, film, art, etc …), but extend the concept to other creative professions that create added value, such as molecular gastronomy.

What’s the difference between creativity and intelligence?

Intelligence refers to the ability to draw logical conclusions, to make analogies, to understand how things are connected to each other. However, we should pay attention to not spoil the term of intelligence and make it less accurate (cf “emotional intelligence”).

Creativity on the other hand refers to the ability to break out of common thought patterns, to get rid of mental barriers. It is about finding new solutions and bringing together new ways of thinking. “Divergent thinking”, “originality” or “imagination” are often used synonymously.

Or you simply refer to it as producing useful and relevant ideas. Even Einstein said using reason and logic can bring you from A to Z, but using your imagination can get you anywhere 😉

How can you measure creativity?

Measuring creativity is kind of challenging, since it presents a larger concept than intelligence. But here are some suggestions:

1) The Past is the Best Prophet of the Future (Biographical Data)

One possibility is to refer from past creative performance to future creative performance. Let’s take a job interview, for example: We recommend to not only ask the candidates about recent creative ideas they had, but also about the circumstances and the situation in which they had this idea.

2) Collecting your colleagues’ opinions

Another possibility is to evaluate a work sample in terms of creativity. If several people come to the conclusion that something was creative, it probably IS creative. The same applies to “uncommon” questions like “What can you turn a brick or a tin into?” Of course, questions like this only make sense for particular target groups.

3) Assessing correlations with other traits

Research came to the conclusion that there are several easily measurable personality traits associated with intelligence. These include risk-taking, curiosity, self-confidence, tolerance of ambiguity (to deal with uncertainty) or unconventionality. Thus, you can use other assessments to indirectly assess creativity.

4) Measuring divergent thinking directly

There are some testing methods that attempt to capture divergent thinking directly (eg the Ideational Fluency Scale of Runco et al., 2001) that take self-reports into consideration. Robert J. Steinberg, one of the most intelligence researchers, defines creativity as a habit, a lifestyle that can not be detected with standard tests.

Do you want to know more about how to check the creativity of your candidate in a job interview? We are happy to help. Just write to falko.brenner@viasto.com or call me at 030-60 988 533-0