Hiring people in the games industry

shallow focus photography of red and white for hire signage

Usually, as a manager, you are responsible for the hiring of team members. You put in a request for an additional headcount on your team (along with the reasoning behind it) and if it’s approved you need to interview folks.

I really appreciated the interview process at BossAlien, it had four steps and each step had a semi-standardized format that was aimed at trying to reduce individual biases. Was it perfect? Probably not, but we always tried to improve it with each iteration.

The ask

Before you can get candidates through the door, you need to first start off with defining the role. What are you looking for? What’s the job they’ll be doing?

Keep it simple

Usually, when working at an established studio there will be an existing format for these kinds of requests. However, if you are starting up a new studio and have nothing established I suggest doing the following.

What’s the job?

Detail out the day-to-day responsibilities of the role; Gameplay Programmer? What does that mean, are they going to be writing networked code? What about any of the AI implementations?

Being clear on this part will help you avoid wasting people’s time when you ask them about it at some point during the interview only to have them respond with “I have no idea how to do that” or worse, you hire them and you don’t set them up for success.

What is the pay?

This can be a touchy subject, but I think it’s important to level set with everyone involved on the salary expectations. Don’t ask people what they want to be paid, because either they’ll be disappointed when you offer lower or you’ll be knowingly underpaying them, which isn’t great for morale in the long run when they find out someone is paid more.

Yes, passion is important, but your staff having to worry about money whilst working will lead to them looking elsewhere.

Where are they working?

Remote? In House?

Make sure it’s clear to the candidate where they are expected to do their day-to-day job and list out any potential traveling they have to do.

You’ve got a job listing, now what?

Congratulations, you’ve now got the job listed somewhere! Maybe on your website, maybe with recruiters. Now onto the next steps.

CV / Resume review

I would go through all CVs / Resumes that were sent to me via our recruitment team and then flag candidates based on their experience levels, if they hit most (not all) of the job requirements then I would move them onto the next phase.

Initial Screening Interview

At this point I would go over the candidate’s CVs / Resumes with them and ask them questions about their previous experience/education and go over some simple problems (my favorite was asking how they would go about making some sort of aim-assist system), they never had to implement something for me by writing down code or going over a board. I wanted to see how they broke down problems and come up with solutions. If they got stuck I’d say things like “Oh what about doing it like X / Y”, that would usually help push them toward finding a solution.

If I was comfortable that they could succeed in the role, I’d move them on to the next step.

Group Interview

Usually, this would be a cross-section of the team, a designer and engineer, and someone from production. They would ask targeted questions from their own disciplines that could be useful to gauge how they would work with others.

Everyone on the panel would be able to vote on the person taking the role, if we had a consensus I moved them onto the final meeting.

Discipline Lead Interview

This was with the CTO of the company who would have the final say on the hire, if all went well then a job offer was made. If not then we thanked people for their time and offered any feedback if requested.

That’s it

Hopefully, you now have that new team member joining soon and you’ll be doing the next part of the process, ramping up!