How would you demonstrate your creative skills in the workplace

This might sound like a pretty blue sky question, but it's becoming a lot more common, as employers go looking for more productive employees.

Creativity in the workplace is the next step up from problem solving.

It is a real asset to job hunters, if they can show how they bring additional value to the employer, and preferably prove a dollar value to that creativity.

In the modern workplace, work isn't as scripted as it used to be. Initiative and good ideas are now much more appreciated than they were in the old hierarchical corporate jobs. Ideas are valuable, and so are employees who can get more value out of the endless possibilities of new systems.

Some people actually make much more of a career out of ideas, rather than just doing a job. The opportunities are always there.

When asked this question, you therefore are being asked if you've ever introduced a new method, idea, or added value to your work.

You probably have, although you may not have registered that you were contributing an added value to your work.

Everybody, on any job, soon figures out a better way of getting things done.

An accountant will create a standardized spreadsheet, database or other format to deal with the regular inputs from clients. A tradesman installing a lot of internal features in a new apartment block will prefabricate as many of the pieces as possible, to speed up the work.

Most value adding is about dealing with volumes of work. Just as well, too, because that's how efficiency is achieved. It's a natural use of skills to make work easier and more productive.

That's also why many people who are quite efficient in organizing their own work don't even recognize why they're efficient. They think it's common sense, but it's actually part of the creativity in the workplace effect.

Think about how you've organized your own work to suit your own needs. There will be something. You may not have redesigned the whole workplace, but you will have done something to make yourself work more efficiently.

Now comes the rest of the question, how to show value in your creativity.

Work value is measured by:

  • Profit
  • Savings
  • Improved time frames
  • Increased efficiency in your own work
  • Increased efficiency which carries through up the work chain to others from your own work

This is what is meant by improving productivity. It's productive in that it generates income, saves time and therefore money, and improves the efficiency of yourself and others. In whatever sense it's done, it's valuable to the employer.

So you have to express the value of your creativity in those terms, to the interviewers, and show them why it's valuable.

If you've come up with a better way of doing things, or a more efficient or obviously quicker way of doing your work, you've answered the question effectively, and made your point.

As with all interview questions, you must structure your answer so the interviewers can see the processes involved, and the value of your work.

In this case, creativity is a very broad range of possible subjects, but you can simplify and clarify your answer:

  • Explain the work, and the processes.
  • Explain your idea and its benefits in terms of the productivity criteria.

Tell the interviewers what you've achieved with your creativity. Also tell them your manager or supervisor's reaction to your work if you can tell them about a positive response from them. That's proof of achievement.

If you don't have an example of your creativity

Some jobs don't allow for much creativity. You're at a bit of a disadvantage, if asked this question, but you can explain the situation, and put forward other positive characteristics.

You can mention:

  • Learning the job in detail, becoming more efficient.
  • Developing your skills and improving performance through experience.
  • Taking up other work and adding to your general productivity.
  • Volunteering for extra tasks to add to your current workload.

In terms of productivity, which is what the creativity question is really about, you can show you're doing what you can.

You're also adding additional value through your own initiative.

Interviewers will recognize the productivity element, but make it clear you can't really do much creative work in that environment.