How many of you hire people with zero experience?

The interview thread got me to thinking.

Where I am currently working, we never hire anyone without 2-3 years of experience. Even the technician positions. We want our hires to hit the ground running. We don’t have time for the guidance needed for someone with no experience.

At a different employer, we would hire people fresh out of school. But that was more to the owner being a cheap SOB and knew he could abuse the inexperienced with endless revisions going late into the night. I think he was a bit a a sadist too.

I would like to think that is not the norm. So if you do hire without experience, why do you do so? I don’t want to believe money is the sole reason. You will get a better ROI from a junior with 2-3 years under their belt.

I have never hired anyone who didn’t have at least a 6 month internship under their belt. The only people i consider for Zero experience is when i am actually interviewing interns. I have hired a intern after they completed their internship in my dept. (i love the try before you buy scenario.)

Its not to say i would hire someone with Zero experience it is just that all the entry lvl people i have interviewed those with internships are a step above the other.


I do and have hired designers with no experience, the exception being that they must have had an internship or co-op.

But to be fair the type of design work that we do is niche and there are only 2-3 accredited schools in the U.S. for this type of work, and I try to recruit specifically from these schools. We do have designers from other schools and with different design/illustration backgrounds, and they do great work, but the learning curve is always longer because they don’t come in the door with any industry education.

What kind of work is that Greenman?

I’ve never hired anyone who at least did not have a few internships or co-ops under their belt.

considering I just built a team of designers, heres what we hired:
ID team:
I inherited an excellent designer with 11 years experience
1st designer I hired had about a year or two of experience + internships
2nd had about 6 or 7 years experience
3rd just graduated but UC so lots of Co-ops

Graphic Design team:
I inherited 2 designers, 1 with about 8 year experience, the other with about 2
Hired a 3rd with 8-9 years experience
Added two more right out of school with about a year each under their belt

Inherited 3 very senior guys
Hired a young guy with a couple of years experience from a competitor
Hired a guy with 8 years experience at a major retailer

For me I think it is about balance. I love what happens when a super senior highly experienced person works with a couple of optimistic green fresh people, whether they are right out of school, or possibly from a different industry. I can trust the experienced person to keep the project on track and the green person to try to break things, which is necessary to do new stuff.

Now that we have the team pretty strongly in place, i would look to hire more people right out of school because we now have the time and space to mentor them, but again, I would expect a few internships just so they know how to tuck their shirts in and find the bathroom… :wink:

I’ve never hired a staff member so cannot comment to this thread directly, but was employed as a junior designer straight from University with no experience.

Internships did become popular here, particularly in the fashion and media industries, however these were generally unpaid so are now experiencing a backlash in terms of legality and ethics.

I would propose that hiring someone in a similar situation the one I was in would allow companies to lead skill development to fit their needs, have a member of staff to do the more mundane tasks which free up more experienced/costly staff, and give recent graduates a foot-in-the-door. I was working on a self-employed status for a period of time.

Would a portfolio that showed promise in the necessary areas not give you a good indication of base skills and a desire to succeed?

I’m getting the impression that a mix of design experience (internships, co-ops etc.) and real world working experience (how to speak to people, use email, meeting etiquette etc.) is desirable.

Really? I would have thought for a profession that you’ve invested years and dollars training for, a keen new employee would be a bit more professional, especially seeing how much competition there is for ID positions.

I’ve been on a few interview panels, mostly for call centre positions. These are pretty well paid but entry-level off-the-street roles, you don’t really need any specific skills apart from a good attitude and common-sense. You get some people with interesting expectations.

You would be surprised.

Agreed, this isn’t necessarily something that’s taught in school, if a program includes some business courses then maybe…but other than that I feel it comes down to upbringing and work experience, any work experience. I had friends in college who’d never had a job, ever, prior to graduation. Working with classmates on projects is a much much different dynamic than working with others the workplace.

Since I had started working when I was 14 I had 9 years of “work” experience before I landed my first design gig. Most people only put relevant work experience on their resumes, but as a fresh grad I actually would recommend putting that college bookstore or clothing retail store tour of duty you took on to make ends meet while getting your degree.

iab - I manage a team of exhibit/event designers that work mostly in the tradeshow industry, however we also design and develop exhibiting products and systems in an R&D/ID capacity. There is a lot of knowledge required of exhibiting practices and idiosyncrasies that you just can’t get without work experience or from one of the accredited schools.

At my first design job, my boss told me not to look at porn at work. He told me, from experience, he needs to tell everyone that.

a little bit of coffee just snorted out of my nose

Is it the norm that you do 1-2 years (in my case nearly 3) for a sadist to get your experience, before going somewhere where they treat you nice?

If I was in the hiring seat I would want someone who has some hands on experience and hopefully knows what a bad workplace can be like. If you haven’t experienced a real bad boss/workplace, chances are you will think a good boss is bad (from my experience).

Nothing gives you perspective like a boss calling you into his office, making you sit there while he reads his emails, then says “don’t just sit there… make yourself useful and fill this for me”… while holding his coffee cup at you, not taking his eyes off the screen.

My company prefers to hire junior designers with 0-3 years of experience as a general rule. We would prefer to train a designer in our methods rather than having to retrain a designer that has come from somewhere else. Obviously there are some exceptions (I came from another firm with a lot of experience). We have a unique friendly culture that would also be spoiled by ego issues that often come after working for a few years. We then do our best to promote from within to encourage our staff to stay.

Its a balance. If there are already some senior folks on the team, it makes sense to hire more junior staff. A pyramid gets smaller toward the top.

I have always wondered about that. It is a ponzi scheme. VPs were juniors. Where are all the other juniors?

You’ve been at this longer than me. It seems like 50-75% of my classmates found their way to other things.

I’d say freelance or academics could be another way or just corporate in smaller firms or things like that

I hired for the first time recently. I selected someone with 2 years experience. I specifically didn’t want someone that would just follow the way we do things, because we are a messy start up that is trying to get organized.

Having said that, the next hire might be a new grad. We have a lot of basic work that needs to be done and it would be a good experience for someone’s first year.

I used to think that my old bosses were all sadists, but looking back I realize it was mostly my ego that led to that perception. I was really green when I started, but I wanted to succeed and always thought that I could. No boss could have given me enough, fast enough.

Having said that, I always remind myself, “don’t be an a-hole” when dealing with employees hehe:)

Our agency hires lots of people fresh out of school, but primarily graphic designers. I’ve hired a new ID grad with no design experience but he’d had technical/engineering jobs before, so I put him on SolidWorks training courses and built up that competency internally. He was also a little bit older. I’d be wary of hiring someone without as much as an internship, 22 years old, fresh grad, unless they were extremely professional and had a good book, or some skill that I needed.